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Chelsea FC

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After qualifying for last 16 as second in Group A behind AS Roma, Antonio Conte claims the biggest obstacles for Chelsea Champions League glory are not PSG or Barcelona but Premier League:

“With five teams to go through to the next round means the level of this league is very high,” the Blues boss said speaking ahead of Liverpool‘s bid to progress on tonight and with Manchester City, United and Spurs already confirmed group winners.

“Don’t forget here this season is very tough. You have to play a lot of games, but when you arrive at the final stage to play for quarter-finals, semi-finals the English teams have a lot of games in their legs. For this reason.”

The Italian coach is not very positive about his side chances to success in the major European competitions for clubs:

“I think it could be problematic to win the Champions League.

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Eden Hazard and his team-mates are not scared about Champions League draw, who can put Chelsea against two powerful teams like Paris Saint Germain or Barcelona in the competition Last 16 next February since the Blues qualified as second in their group:

“It’s not a problem. We are Chelsea. We can face any team. We know PSG and Barcelona, they are very good. But we are Chelsea and we have to be ready for everything. We can do everything.”

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Chelsea qualify to Champions League last 16 as second in their group, with AS Roma topping the table with the same points ( 11) thanks to the 3-0 win in Italy one month ago.

Despite playing a good game and creating many dangerous chances the Blues were not able to overcome the Spanish side, who relegate to Europa League after finish third in the Group A table.

Antonio Conte‘s team produced 15 shots in tonight clash, 8 of whom on target, but after missing chances with Alvaro Morata ( two times) and Davide Zappacosta ( once) they were able to equalise only thanks to an own goal by Savic, who deflected a shot by Eden Hazard, again the man of the match.

Atletico controlled the game in the first part but were never really dangerous, while Morata missed the target twice and Zappacosta had a nice attempt saved by Jan Oblak.

The Colchoneros seemed more determined in the second half and after hitting the post with former Blues left-back Filipe Luis ( Koke’s header on the rebound was blocked by Thibaut Courtois) took the lead at 52′ when Saul Niguez‘s header entered the goal after another former Blues, Fernando Torres, assisted him after a corner kicked from the left, with Tiemoué Bakayoko forgetting to man marking him.

The Diego Simeone‘s side dream to reach the qualification ( they were depending, anyway, on Roma’s score, who had not to win against Qarabag at home) ended when Savic deflected a shot from the left by Hazard in his own goal.

After that, Morata and Willian incredibly missed a couple of good chances to give Chelsea the three points needed to win the group.

The Last 16 draw will take place next Monday 11 December at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.

 

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Chelsea's Andreas Christensen during UEFA Champions League - Group C match between Chelsea and FK Qarabag at Stanford Bridge, London 12 Sept 2017 (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto)

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid are still 0-0 in Matchday 6 clash at halftime.

Despite the Blues having already qualified for Last 16 and the Spanish side desperately looking for a win ( waiting for Roma score) to get through next stage, Antonio Conte’s side were better in this first half, with some dangerous chance created in counter-attack.

Alvaro Morata, who tonight is playing a personal derby since he is a product of Real Madrid academy and played many years also in the Blancos first team, went close to score in a couple of occasions while Davide Zappacosta had a good shot saved by Colchoneros keeper Jan Oblak.

Atletico were more in control of the game but they were not clear-headed when close to the box, that’s why Thibaut Courtois was inoperative for most of the first part.

Now the last 45 minutes for the Spanish side to try to get their access to this Champions League last 16.

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CHELSEA – Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill (c); Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Hazard, Morata.

Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Drinkwater, Willian, Pedro, Batshuayi

Manager: Antonio Conte

ATLETICO MADRID – Oblak; Gimenez, Savic, Lucas, Filipe Luis; Thomas, Gabi, Koke, Saul Niguez; Torres, Griezmann.

Subs: Moya, Godin, Vrsaliko, Ferreira-Carrasco, Corra, Vetto, Gameiro.

Manager: Diego Simeone

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Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas reveals how he convinced Antonio Conte to trust him and explains how is working under one of the most demanding managers in football.

The Spanish midfielder was not in the Italian coach plans at the beginning of his Chelsea adventure in summer 2016 but he believes hard work allowed him to prove Conte wrong and he’s enjoying the ‘freedom’ under his the Italian coach:

“You could say freedom,” he said ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.

“We know the boss likes to have discipline in our system and game. In this way, we cover the pitch well. It’s working well.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried, but maybe worried is not the right word.

 

“I wasn’t part of his initial plans. You can give up or put your head down, be humble and work hard and show him he is wrong.

“You must adapt and be always ready in training.

“Physically… I wouldn’t say better than ever, but in the last few years I feel the fitness. I had to adapt myself, especially defensively. It’s not my biggest strength.

 

“Last season the boss might not have trusted me to play in a 3-4-3 but he does now.”

Conte accepted he was wrong about the former Arsenal and Barcelona star and applauded his work ethic:

“He didn’t play a lot, but through his work he changed my mind. It happened,” the Chelsea manager added.

 

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Speaking ahead of the Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid Blues boss Antonio Conte had sweet words for his main forward Alvaro Morata, who is impressing in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniard already scored 9 goals and gave 4 assists in 13 Premier League and 1 goal in Champions League. Of course, the Italian manager is satisfied of his performance:

“Alvaro is very happy to play for Chelsea and I’m very happy to have a player like him,” Conte said today.

“For Alvaro, it’s his first season to play regularly and he is showing he is a great striker.

“He has a lot of room for improvement.

“He can become one of the best strikers in the world.”

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It’s Norwich City the rival that have been drawn to face Premier League champions Chelsea in the third round of The Emirates FA Cup.

Farke’s side will host Antonio Conte’s men at Carrow Road on the weekend of January 5-8.

The Canaries last faced Chelsea at home in the FA Cup in January 2002, a clash that ended in a 0-0 draw in the third round. The Blues then won 4-0 in the Stamford Bridge replay.

Fixture and ticketing details will be announced in due course.

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After his fantastic performance against Newcastle this afternoon, where he didn’t only score a brace but he was man of the match hands down, Eden Hazard was praised by his coach, Antonio Conte, that had very nice words for his team star:

“Eden played a good game. Today we saw a good link between him and Alvaro,” the Blues boss commented on Sky Sports after the final whistle.

“In this type of game, when we decided to have a tactical solution, he had more freedom to play as striker and then offensively he was very dangerous. He played very well, scored twice, and the goalkeeper made two fantastic saves from him. He must continue in this way to improve himself.”

Continuing to speak about the game, Conte added:

“It was a good performance. Maybe our start was a bit a slow, not good enough. But after we went 1-0 down we played with good intensity and created chances to score. In the end it was a good performance. This team has a lot of professionals, when our start is not good enough there is always a good reaction, like against Liverpool. This team I strong for sure, we are in good form, good physical condition and strong tactically in defence and attack. We are working well and we have to continue in this way.” 

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is not totally satisfied after today’s win over Newcastle: the Italian manager reckons his team’s start was too slow:

“I think our start wasn’t good enough,” the Blues tactician told BBC Sport after the game.

“After going 1-0 down, we started to play with good intensity and good football. Our start was a bit slow.

“We did well after only two days’ rest. It was a solid performance despite the goal. We showed good motivation and good intensity.

“I made rotations in the game and the response of my players was positive.

“I think that today, to play and win after two days of rest means a lot. Newcastle had the advantage with one day more of rest.”

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