Zola backs Chelsea to motor on

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola believes there is still much to fight for this season and is backing the Blues to have a strong finish to the current campaign.

Antonio Conte’s side are still battling across three competitions, with the weekend’s Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace being followed up by trips to Barcelona and Leicester in the Champions League and the FA Cup respectively.

Speaking from the Geneva International Motor Show, where the Italian was representing Chelsea and our principal partner, Yokohama, our former forward reflected on the season so far and explained why he feels there is still much to play for between now and May.

‘This season perhaps hasn’t been quite as good as last season but the team is still doing well,’ Zola explained. ‘Chelsea did very well in the first leg against Barcelona and will hope to get through [to the next round of the Champions League] in the second leg. They can still push on in the Premier League too and have a strong finish.

‘Compared to last season, yes, of course it’s not as good, because Chelsea dominated the league so much. The Premier League is such a difficult competition, so it is uncommon to see a team dominate for two or three years in a row.

‘It used to sometimes happen back in the day, with teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, but now the competition is so high, it doesn’t really happen anymore. But there is still plenty to play for. The Champions League is still open for us and there is still plenty available for us to have a good season.

‘Of course we know it will be difficult in the Camp Nou, but we have to go there and give it everything. We need the fans to get behind the players and show their support. Hopefully there will be many fans there and hopefully they will be coming back happy with a win.’

Zola, who is one of the former Blues stars appearing at the Legends game at Stamford Bridge on 18 May, was in Geneva with Yokohama and spoke of his pride in giving back to the club, following such a distinguished career at the Bridge. 

‘It goes without saying, everything we do is because we love it,’ the Italian told the large crowd. ‘I have been kicking a ball around since I was three years old and as you grow up, people start to follow you and support you. It makes you love your job even more and it helps you give more on the pitch. The connection with the fans is so important.

‘I love Chelsea and the club has given me a lot, so whenever I can help and give something back I will. Chelsea and Yokohama are both brands that focus on high performance.’

When asked which current Blue he likes to watch, Zola was quick to single out one player who he feels will only continue to improve on the pitch.

‘Because we share the same position, I like watching Eden Hazard.

‘He’s an amazing player and every year he seems to be getting better and better. He’s a very exciting player.’