Chelsea play host to Barcelona in a Champions League crunch tie later today and Antonio Conte has sounded out a warning to his defenders to be switched on for the entire duration of the game, according to reports.
During the era of Jose Mourinho in Champions League, he built his game plan on defensive solidity but Antonio has come with a slightly different method. The Blues have played with a back three at the heart of defence and they have been shaky all season.
Chelsea are currently in fourth position on the Premier League log and are off the pace in the title chase but Barcelona are runaway League leaders in the La Liga and so, you’d expect a tough game for Chelsea despite having the advantage of playing at home.
Speaking ahead of the crunch tie, Antonio Conte was asked how he intends to stop the attacking threats of Lionel Messi and he said:
“This is a good question,” he said at his pre-match press conference.
“We are talking about the best player in the world. He has the capacity to solve the situation and create the chance when you don’t see it.
“It means we are talking about a fantastic player.
“But not only Messi but Suarez is a dangerous player. We have to stop all of Barcelona and work very hard and know during the game that we must prepare to suffer.”
Antonio Conte’s side was shockingly defeated by Bournemouth and Watford consecutive in the League and despite win their last two games, the Italian tactician has revealed that he’s aware of the defensive frailties of his squad.
“I think we start this game as underdog for sure,” Conte conceded.
“Barcelona on paper are favourites to go to the next round. We must be excited to have this challenge.
“These games are important to know our level in this competition. We work and prepared well for this game. It won’t be easy.
“They are having a fantastic season, they are top of the league and are the potential to win their cup.”
He added: “We are talking about a massive game.
“A big challenge for us, one of the best in the world.
“I think this type of game we must be excited to play them.
“For sure it won’t be easy because we are talking about a fantastic team with fantastic players.
“We must pay great attention and must have ambition to play our football.
“We know the characteristics of them. They like to dominate the game.
“In every game they can create chances to score and for this reason we must be prepared to suffer without the ball and be compact and with the ball do what we know.”