Ronaldinho: The English quartet are going out

Last updated at 08:01 07 March 2005


Barcelona striker Ronaldinho claims all four English clubs will be eliminated from the Champions League this week.

His sights are set on Chelsea, and the Brazilian, voted FIFA's World Player of the Year for 2004, feels the crop of the continent will prove too strong for the best of the Premiership.

With Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all trailing from the first legs of their last-16 ties, the odds are stacked against there being significant English interest in the quarter-finals, even if Liverpool lead Bayer Leverkusen 3-1.

Ronaldinho can see no way back for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, declaring Barcelona as "100 per cent" certainties to reach the last eight.

He told a newspaper: "I'm sure that Barcelona will reach the quarter-finals.

"My predictions would be Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, or AC Milan and maybe Inter to challenge. I don't think any of the English sides will do it."

Barca will look to protect their 2-1 lead from the first leg at the Nou Camp, in which they trailed until the game turned after Didier Drogba's dismissal.

Maxi Lopez and Samuel Eto'o fired the Spaniards to their narrow lead, although Ronaldinho felt the margin of victory could easily have been greater.

"Having seen Chelsea close up I am still 100% confident that we will go through to the quarter-finals," he added.

"We have a better team than Chelsea and I'm certain that we will score at Stamford Bridge to take us through.

"Chelsea gave us a hard game in the Nou Camp but our performance deserved better than 2-1."

Where the 23-year-old gives Chelsea credit is in their organisation.

"Chelsea's defence were extremely difficult to break down," he added. "Jose Mourinho knew how to keep it tight against us and against me in particular."

But there has been no love lost between the two clubs of late, with accusations from either side causing tensions ahead of the return leg in London.

Mourinho has alleged that referee Anders Frisk was visited by Barca boss Frank Rijkaard in his dressing room at half-time at the Nou Camp.

Ronaldinho said of Mourinho: "People don't like the things he says.

"I prefer to do my talking on the field. I don't listen to what people say before or after a game."

Collina to ref Chelsea match

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's prediction came true when Pierluigi Collina was appointed referee for the second leg.

The Italian official, the most famous whistleblower on the planet, was named by UEFA's Referees Committee, fulfilling a prediction made by Mourinho after the first leg, won 2-1 by Barca in the Nou Camp.

Mourinho had criticised the refereeing performance of Swede Anders Frisk after the first leg when he accused Barca boss Frank Rijkaard of speaking to the official at the interval.

It was reported last week that Collina, who handled the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany in 2002 and the 1999 Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, will quit in the summer for a desk job as "designatore", the man who appoints referees for individual Serie A fixtures.

German Herbert Fandel has been nominated to handle the match on Tuesday at the San Siro between AC Milan and Manchester United.

Russian Valentin Ivanov will officiate in the game between Lyon and Werder Bremen.

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