Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic has risked Didier Drogba's wrath by accusing the Chelsea striker of diving.
Vidic believes Drogba exaggerates fouls to make defenders think twice before challenging him in the penalty area, therefore giving him more room to operate in the danger zone.
The Serb will go head to head with Drogba in Wednesday's Champions League final in Moscow and he hopes the officials will be strong enough to ignore the forward's gamesmanship.
“Sometimes he (Drogba) goes in very strong and sometimes he pretends he is weak. He plays with your mind and tries to make the defender think about the next tackle,” Vidic told the Sunday Times.
“He can pretend he fell down to win a penalty, but referees know that. The Champions League final is a big game and I'm sure the ref will know his job.
“He's a great player and he's a top scorer. It's a hard job to stop him.”
Vidic is the latest in a long line of players and managers to highlight Drogba's occasional theatrics, but he may live to regret his outburst.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez angered Drogba by revealing he had showed his players a video of the Ivorian's diving ahead of their Champions League semi-final.
Drogba responded with a man of the match display in the second leg, scoring twice to send Chelsea through to the Moscow showpiece. It would be no surprise if he is planning something similar after Vidic's accusations.
Vidic has already suffered against Drogba this season after being stretchered off with concussion and a split lip when the Chelse star accidently kneed him in the head during the recent meeting at Stamford Bridge.
But the United centre-back insists he doesn't hold a grudge. “He went for the ball and I don't think he wanted to kick me. It's in the past and I don't think about what happened in the past,” Vidic said.
“I don't know if he said sorry. I remember nothing from those first five seconds after it happened, but he didn't need to apologise. When a player doesn't mean to kick me yet it happens, I understand that.”
Vidic admits he must learn to choose the right moment to throw himself into the fray because he is no-holds-barred style leaves him open to serious injury.
“In the past four months I've had two concussions and that's not good. I don't protect myself. I leave myself too open for players to kick me or hurt me.
“I'm not saying they want to, it just happens, but maybe I need to work on my protection. I put my head in, but don't also put my elbows and hands in to protect myself.
“I want to win the ball and don't care how and maybe because of that I get hurt. I never feel afraid. Nobody has ever died on the pitch because of a challenge.”
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