Barcelona v Chelsea

Hoddle: Beating Barca like flooring Ali

April 19, 2012
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Glenn Hoddle likens Chelsea's chances of beating Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final to Joe Frazier knocking out Muhammad Ali in his prime.

Barcelona fans display a banner at Stamford Bridge ahead of the kick-off
PA PhotosMany clubs have learnt the hard way from trying to beat Barcelona at their own game

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Chelsea beat Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday courtesy of a Didier Drogba goal and Hoddle, who had been confident of a Blues win, believes they could get a positive result at the Camp Nou next week, though he acknowledges that progress will be tough.

Hoddle, who managed Chelsea between 1993 and 1996, said: "Muhammad Ali in his pomp you couldn't out-box. No one could. Now no team on this planet can out-football Barcelona. Madrid have tried, Manchester United tried, but you cannot do it.

"Ali, though, was beaten by Frazier because of his aggression and refusal to give in, and those are the qualities Chelsea will need to stand a chance of reaching the final.

"For me, I would be much more confident about Chelsea had they got a second goal, and would have liked to have seen them take a little more of a risk to go for that second goal in the final 15 minutes, as that would have been the key to getting to the final

"However, it is easy to say that but very difficult to do with wave after wave of attacks coming at you.

"Chelsea found a way of beating Barcelona, the best team in the world, so it's not the time to be critical, it's the time to admire what they did, and so much hinged on playing Drogba, as he was immense, but it was achieved by getting everyone behind the ball, including Drogba.

"Having said that, Barca had some wonderful chances and on a more clinical night would have taken them. Chelsea had one chance, one goal, and I had a funny feeling they would nick it, but it does show you how football is such a mad, strange game at times.

"As for the second leg, well, the Nou Camp is such a big pitch, it will be even tougher to cover all the spaces, the way Chelsea did at the Bridge, which is a more compact ground.

"Roberto Di Matteo's tactics were spot on - they were never more than seven yards from any player at any time all over the pitch - and even then Barca broke them down but didn't take their chances.

"To win in the Nou Camp much will depend on Petr Cech having a 'worldie'. He will need to pull off some miracle saves and you wouldn't put it past him the form he is in. Chelsea have a chance, yes - it's not impossible. It's delicately poised."


Glenn Hoddle is Technical Director of 20-20 football, who are hosting the Fallen Heroes Trophy (in aid of Help 4 Heroes) and the Elite Legends Cup at Loftus Road on Sunday May 20. Chelsea (holders of the London Legends Cup), Manchester United, Arsenal and hosts QPR are competing, with tickets on sale from QPR.