The Blues legend believes the Portuguese coach faced a difficult task in trying to implement a new brand of attacking football and that is why he was sacked prematurelyChelsea for wanting to play more like Barcelona and yet not being patient enough with former boss Andre Villas-Boas.
The Portuguese coach was dismissed by the Blues at the start of March, less than nine months after the English outfit had handed over a reported €15 million in compensation to Porto to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
Zola has admitted on the eve of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final second-leg clash with Barca that he has a lot of sympathy for Villas-Boas, who he believes deserved more time at the helm of the Premier League club.
"I think what Chelsea want to do is to change their style of play," the Blues legend mused during an interview with El Pais. "The idea of Barca's football appeals to everyone, and also them.
"However, with Villas-Boas, they had no patience in terms of the results, which were not considered up to expectations."
Chelsea are now being linked with a move for Blaugrana boss Pep Guardiola, who is out of contract at the end of the season, and Zola admitted that he has nothing but respect for the former Spain international.
"He has assembled a winning team that plays such divine football," the Italian enthused. "This Barca side are good for football."
Zola also admitted that he is particularly fond of a certain member of the Catalans' squad.
"There is a player that fascinates me: he's very short, left-footed, Argentine and I think plays for Barcelona. It seems that he's not bad," the former Azzurri attacker joked.
"But Messi aside, I also like [Sebastian] Giovinco, Giuseppe Rossi, [David] Silva, [Mesut] Ozil, [Wayne] Rooney and [Juan] Mata."
Zola, who was capped 35 times by his country, spent seven seasons at Chelsea between 1996 and 2003.