'Chelsea can surprise Barcelona' - Zola backing Conte's Champions League cause

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The Blues legend suffered heartache at Camp Nou during his playing career, but he believes the class of 2018 have every chance of prevailing

Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola is backing his former club to spring a surprise against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Antonio Conte's side travel to Camp Nou with their last-16 tie all square at 1-1 – Lionel Messi having levelled matters at Stamford Bridge after Willian put the Premier League champions in front.

Zola scored in a 3-1 win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals back in 2000 before the Catalan giants matched that score line in the second leg and prevailed on home turf in extra time.

This time around, Zola is hopeful Chelsea will not suffer Camp Nou misery and believes Conte and his players can make life difficult for Ernesto Valverde's La Liga leaders.

"It's not going to be easy. Playing in Barcelona is a tough game. But Chelsea are a strong team, with good players," Zola told Omnisport .

"I think they can go there and surprise Barcelona, they have the ability to do that. Chelsea have the type of players Barcelona don't like very much, so in my opinion, it's still an open game.

"They will have to defend well. The first leg was 1-1, Barcelona will want to try to win the game [and not rely on the away goal advantage].

"I'm sure they will want to be safe. If Chelsea defend well first, then they can use the counter as they can do really well. I think they stand a very good chance."

Gianfranco Zola was speaking at the Geneva International Motor Show, on behalf of Yokohama Tyres, the principal partner of Chelsea Football Club. For more information, visit: http://www.yokohama-online.com

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