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Apr 18, 2012

Hoddle: Pragmatic Blues can beat Barca

Former Chelsea boss Glenn Hoddle believes the Blues are the English team best equipped to beat Barcelona and has backed them to pull off a shock victory in their Champions League semi-final tie.

• Fabregas taunts long-ball Chelsea
• Guardiola: Chelsea link a fantasy
• Alves: Blues play with fear

But Hoddle, who was at Chelsea in the mid-90s before going on to manage England and Tottenham, feels current boss Roberto Di Matteo will need to abandon the expansive attacking style his side showed against Tottenham in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final in order to claim a famous win against the reigning European champions.

"Of all the English teams capable of beating Barcelona, Chelsea have by far the best chance," Hoddle told ESPNsoccernet. "Manchester United and Arsenal would want to take them on at their own game, attack them with possession football and swift counter attacks. But none of that will work against this team, the best that there is at what they do.

"Chelsea have faired better against Barcelona in the past and the reason is that they have been far more pragmatic at times, and on this occasion they need to be that more so than ever before."

Hoddle advocates the use of a "basketball strategy" and claims Chelsea must not try to go toe-to-toe with Barca's renowned tiki-taka approach.

"For me, Chelsea need to retreat to their own half, within their own half-way semicircle and concede possession to Barcelona when they have the ball, and close down all available space within their own half," Hoddle said.

"It is like a basketball strategy, as soon as the opposition have possession the other team simply rush back to their defensive positions within their own half. The best way, in fact only effective way to play Barcelona is the way that Chelsea are equipped to do with Dider Drogba leading their attack.

"I would release Frank Lampard from any rigid defensive duties and when the ball is played long to Drogba to support him to try to find the knock downs and loose balls in and around their penalty area. If it doesn't work then Frank would retreat with the rest of the team the way they do in basketball.

"It might not be a very attractive way to play, but sometimes you need to forgo your philosophy so that the end justifies the means. Even at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, Chelsea need to be more direct."


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.

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