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FC Barcelona

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Italian TV  Premium Sport reports that Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will part ways with the club in the next few hours.

Conte joined Chelsea in the summer of 2016 after having managed the Italian national team at Euro 2016: he won the Premier League during his debut season but failed even to reach the top four in this one, a frustration partially mitigated by the success in the FA Cup final against Manchester United in the past weekend.

According to Premium, the termination of the manager’s contract is a contentious issue though, as the club wants to end it by mutual consent but Conte intends to get sacked to cover also the year left on the deal or to get a good payout.

It’s well known that the Italian boss’ relationship with Chelsea board fell out in the last months, mainly because Conte reckons it wasn’t given enough credit to his work and also because he wasn’t trusted during transfer market negotiations.

Possible substitutes to replace him are former AS Roma and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic, as Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri seems keen to join Zenit St. Petersburg at the moment.

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Chelsea star Cesc Fabregas reveals he’s got huge respect for José Mourinho, actually, he really loves the current Manchester United manager.

Mourinho was the one who brought the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge in summer 2014 and Fabregas won’t ever forget that:

“I love him,” the former Arsenal and Barcelona player said.

“I owe him a lot because he brought me here and I will always remember that. 

“Arsene [Wenger] always treated me like a son and it was amazing but the closest anyone else has been to him was Jose. 

“The way he treated me, the way he made me feel, how he let me be a leader of the Chelsea team from day one and believed in me, this was fantastic and will always stay with me. 

“It [this experience at Chelsea] is thanks to him. Our history, what had happened between us before I came, made it even more remarkable. 

“When I played for Arsenal, he was with Chelsea. When I was at Barcelona, he was with Real Madrid. We were confronting each other but then we humbled ourselves and started a good relationship.”

Speaking about his second spell at Barcelona between 2011 and 2014, he said:

“I was happy at Barcelona but there were players who were there for many years before me and the fans had them in their heart. 

“For me, it was different because I left and came back, they paid money for me. It is more difficult. I never had the same love that the other players had. That’s also because they were such fantastic players. 

“When Mourinho brought me to Chelsea, he brought back a lot of energy and fire inside of me. It was a fantastic year with him to be honest.” 

Speaking about Mourinho tactics for the FA Cup final, that some Chelsea players might know really well, Fabregas said:

“We have played a few games against them and he has changed the system many times. 

“I am sure he will change something again on Saturday. You can expect that, for sure. Mourinho prepares for finals very, very well. 

“This year at Manchester United we played well, went 1-0 up, could have had more and in one moment they scored. In the second half, it was not good and we tried to change things around but maybe it was a little bit too late.”

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Speaking ahead of Belgium friendly clash against Saudi Arabia Chelsea star Eden Hazard claimed comparisons to Lionel Messi are wide of the mark because the Barcelona star scores in almost every match:

“We cannot be compared to Messi,” Hazard told reporters on Monday.

“It’s impossible. We’re small and we’re quick, but he scores in all the matches.”

His national team coach Roberto Martinez added:

“It will be a good opportunity to see Radja.

“Like the others, he will be involved.

“We cannot limit Radja. He is more an offensive midfielder, a position where he can express himself.”

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Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa spoke about the end of his professional relationship with Chelsea:

“It is very clear that it was not my fault that I was in Brazil,” Costa said in a press conference in Spain today.

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Chelsea and Antonio Conte are likely to part ways at the end of this campaign.

The Blues heavy defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou has confirmed that the paths of the Premier League club and the former Juventus coach will separate once the season is over.

As reported by Italian outlet Tuttosport, the relationship between Conte and the club’s board has been damaged for months due to disagreements on the transfer market and the lack of results this season has done the rest.

So, while Conte is preparing to live the last months as head coach at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea directors have reportedly already chosen former FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique as a replacement for the Italian gaffer for the season 2018/19.

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte claimed he will do everything to play another semifinal and final at Wembley this season.

Last year his team beat Spurs in the semifinal and then was defeated by Arsenal in the final:

This is a great competition one of the most important in the world,” the Italian coach said.

“Last season we were very good to reach the final at Wembley, playing the quarter finals against Manchester United and semifinal against Spurs. Now we will try to do the same.

“To win a trophy in England is always very tough, before winning it you know that you have to face strong teams. In this competition there are United and Tottenham but also other teams that want to try to make the history in the cup

“I think every trophy is important for us, we started the season to try to fight until the end for every competition, in the Carabao Cup we were in the semifinal, in the Champions League we reached the last 16, if we win we can play another semifinal at Wembley in this competition, this must be our target.

“To try to go to next round to reach the semifinal in the FA Cup won’t be easy, Leicester are a good team, in the last game we played agains them at home we suffered. We will do our best to qualify for the next Champions League, we still have targets.”

Asked who is the favourite goalkeeper to start on Sunday, Conte replied:

“I think that we’re talking about two good goalkeepers, Thibaut [Courtois] and Willy [Caballero], tomorrow I will try to make the best decision, because we want to go to next round.”

Eden Hazard has failed to score in the last three games:

“Maybe he could score on Sunday,” Conte replied.

On tomorrow’s rivals:

“We’re talking about a team that two years ago won the title, they want to fight a lot, we suffered a lot in the last game, we ran a lot, they are dangerous, we must pay great attention to them.

“Special plans are to try to defend well, we all know Vardy‘s characterstics, he’s very clever, he’s good in finding the right time to attack the space. They have other dangerous players like Ineacho and Okazaki.”

Speaking about the Champions League knock out against Barcelona he said:

“It was a pity to go out, especially because we made two good performances, we have to try move on.

“It’s true we played against Barcelona the other night, but we could rest, so I will pick up the best solution for Sunday’s game.”

 

 

 

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Speaking to BT Sport after the final whistle at Camp Nou Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois admitted his responsibility in both Messi’s goals:

“I don’t think we deserve to be out, but individual mistakes cost us in both legs,” the Belgium international started.

“The first goal, I did not expect Lionel Messi to shoot from that angle and I was too late in closing my legs. It was a mistake on my part.

“There were missed passes from us and they scored from our mistakes. We defended and played well, hit the crossbar which was unlucky on our side, but the individual mistakes cost us. We have to be honest about that.

“I played against Messi a lot of times, I have already conceded goals like that before. The weakest point is between the legs for a goalkeeper.

“It is annoying, I cannot hide inside, I have to be a man and come out.

“I made some good saves too, but we go out with conceding four goals from four mistakes.”

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He hadn’t scored a single goal to Chelsea until the first leg at Stamford Bridge one month ago, now Leo Messi ends this tie with 3 goals scored to the Blues that are bringing the Blaugrana to the quarter finals.

Conte’s lads didn’t even have the time to adapt to the majesty of Camp Nou tonight as Messi netted the ball at the very first chance after a couple of minutes: Chelsea were unlucky as a rebound by Alonso in the box eased Suarez’s assist to the Argentine star, who beat a guilty Courtois, who let the ball pass between his legs.

The Blues tried to react but after 17′ minutes they were punished again: it was always Messi, really on fire tonight, that steal a ball in the midfield to his former team-mate Fabregas, who dithered too much while controlling the ball: La Pulga speeded up dribbled past Christensen and Azpilicueta and, suddenly, he was at the box limit, giving a perfect assist to Dembelé, who scored the 2-0 with a perfect diagonal shot at the posts cross.

Chelsea reaction this time was timid, the Blues gave the impression to have been knocked out by the second goal and the only Willian seemed to have something to show on the pitch.

In the end of the first part Marcos Alonso even hit the external part of the post on a free-kick, but it was the only real dangerous chance of the Blues in the first 85 minutes.

In the beginning of the second half Chelsea seemed more determined to try to level the points, with a 2-2 that would have meant quarter finals for Conte’s side, and the Blues could complaint for possible penalty denied by referee Skomina for a foul by Piqué on Marcos Alonso.

But in their best moment Chelsea were punished again and, again, by alien Messi: Suarez ran into a space left by Chelsea defence and assisted Messi, who beat another time Courtois, that let the ball pass between his legs also in this occasion!

The Belgian keeper then saved another couple of Barcelona efforts and in the latest minutes first Zappacosta ( who produced the first shot on target at 81′) then Rudiger ( who hit the post with a header) tried to save Chelsea honour in the Camp Nou.

This time, anyway, no crazy celebration as in 2012, with Messi leaving the pitch with 100th goals in the Champions League reached and hugged to Antonio Conte who, eventually, was not able to transmit the right malice to his team, that ended their Champions League journey tonight with bad a defeat on the old field of glory.

 

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Reports in Italy this morning claim Antonio Conte is not going to include Alvaro Morata in Chelsea’s starting XI against Barcelona tonight.

The Spaniard had a stunning start to the season but his performances have been declining over the last few months. The former Juventus star has had physical issues as well and Conte is not going to start him against the Catalans tonight.

According to Tuttosport Conte will pick up the likes of Pedro, Willian and Hazard to play up front with the Belgian ace who is expected to play as ‘false 9’ as in the game at Stamford Bridge in February.

Chelsea will have to score one more goal then their rivals or obtain a draw with 2 goals or more to go through the next round, as the first leg played in London three weeks ago ended with a 1-1 draw.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

​Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho, Suarez, Messi.

​Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Christensen; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Marcos Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Willian.

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Chelsea star Willian, surely the Blues best man in this period, spoke ahead of tonight crucial Champions League clash at Camp Nou:

“Firstly it was good to get back to winning ways and it gives us confidence for the game against Barcelona,” the Brazilian winger said.

“In football, when you win you always get confidence for the next game. Now we have confidence to go there and do a job.

“Playing against Barcelona is never easy. The pitch there is big and we expect a difficult game but I think if we play the same way as we did in the game at Stamford Bridge we can go through.”

Speaking about game tactics and plan he said:

“We have to stay compact and fight together without the ball because Barcelona, in every game, have a lot of possession”

“In this game, when we have the ball we have to be more clinical. We can’t afford to make any mistakes with our final pass and we have to be decisive in front of goal by shooting or doing what we want to do. If we go into the game with this mentality I think we can do something special.”

And speaking about himself he claimed:

“Everyone knows my best qualities are with the ball, not without it.”

“But I try to help the team and work hard. I’m not a specialist in that area but I try.

“When I go on the pitch I always try to do my best and in some games I have the opportunity to shoot more, in others not so much, but in the last few games I’ve created a lot of chances and I think my performances have been good.

“I want to play better and better, to help my team-mates and help the club. I want to win titles. I think we can do something special between now and the end of the season.

“We have the Champions League and FA Cup, and we can reach the top four in the Premier League. We have some targets to reach so that’s why I want to always do my best.

“I’ve had a lot of good moments in my career and this one, right now, is a special one. I’m very happy with my form.”

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