We must maintain our high level of discipline and attention on Wednesday – Conte
Chelsea Manager, Antonio Conte has urged his players to maintain the high level of discipline and attention, which he described to be the main factors that got the team a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the first leg as they travel to Nou Camp for their Round of 16-second leg clash on Wednesday.
The Premier League Champions were impressive at Stamford Bridge as it took a defensive error from their backline for Lionel Messi to pull Barca level after Willian opener.
The Blues must now beat Barca at home or get a score draw for them to progress into the quarter-finals at the expense of the Spanish giants. Conte is aware of the tough task that lies ahead of them
While speaking with reporters after this weekend victory over Crystal Palace, the former Juventus Manager said: “The game will be for sure totally different. We are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We must have the same discipline and attention as the first leg.”
“We played a really great game in the first leg, it was almost a perfect game. It won’t be easy, we must know this. We must try the right solution – the best way sometimes is to speak with the players and try to find the right plan.”
The London club has only reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League once since lifting the trophy in 2012.
Cesc Fabregas believes Antonio Conte’s tinkering will only benefit Chelsea.
Chelsea head coach Conte rotated his side for Wednesday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Swansea.
Cesar Azpilicueta was rested in the Premier League for the first time under Conte, ending a run of 74 successive league starts since December 2015, while Eden Hazard was relegated to the substitutes’ bench.
With nine games remaining in all competitions this calendar year, Conte is expected to keep altering his line-up, something Spain playmaker Fabregas welcomed.
“We have to cope with the situation. No-one can play every three days even if we want to,” Fabregas told the London Evening Standard.
“If you keep playing, you will keep carrying knocks so it is good to have a break sometimes and come back fresher.
“To know that the team is performing and winning without Eden really being involved is very good.
“We started the season without him and he didn’t start against Swansea because he is the best player (and needed a rest).
“Beating Swansea has kept the momentum going. In this period of the year it is just important to keep getting the three points.”
Conte was sent from the touchline towards the end of the first half for dissent and afterwards apologised to referee Neil Swarbrick and fourth official Lee Mason.
The Football Association was on Thursday awaiting Swarbrick’s report, but the dismissal may be the end of the matter, allowing the Italian to return to the technical area for Saturday’s match with Newcastle.
Conte fielded largely the same side, with two or three options, last season, but this year he has the additional challenge of the Champions League.
The Blues can afford further rotation against Atletico Madrid next Tuesday as they have already qualified from Group C.
Fabregas added: “I think it is important for everyone in the team, especially the manager, to know that he can make a few alterations to the line-up and the team can still perform and get the win.
“It is crucial for him and the team to see that we can trust anyone. In this case it’s a double victory because everyone is hungry to win, to play and to make it difficult for the manager.”
Germany defender Antonio Rudiger scored the decisive goal, heading in after N’Golo Kante’s shot was deflected into his path.
Rudiger is relishing taking part in the busy festive period for the first time.
Afterwards Michy Batshuayi, who is currently out with an ankle injury, posted an image on Instagram showing a hole in Rudiger’s left boot and blood seeping through the defender’s sock.
Conte will hope the wound will not prohibit Rudiger from featuring on Saturday, particularly as the full extent of David Luiz’s knee injury is still to be determined.
Conte expressed his hope that Luiz’s absence would be a short one.
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