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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke ahead of the really important Champions League game against Barcelona:

“For sure we are talking about a massive game, a big challenge for us, against one of the best teams of the world, “ the Italian coach said while facing the international press in Stamford Bridge press room tonight.

“We must be excited to play this game against Barcelona.

“We must pay great attention but at the same time we must have ambition.

“We know their characteristics, they like ball possession and to dominate the game. We try to do what we like as well, what we try during the trainings.

“I think we start this game as underdogs, for sure, Barcelona are favourite to go through next round, but at the same time we’re excited to get this challenge. This game will let us understand what is our level in this competition. 

“Barcelona are having a fantastic season, they are top of the league, they are the Spanish cup final. This game will let us understand which is our level in the present.

Messi… we’re talking about the best player in the world, he’s got the capacity to solve situations, even with a chance. He’s a fantastic player, but we’ve to pay attention also to other players, like Suarez, Iniesta or others. 

“We have to work very hard, we have to know that during the game we must be prepared to suffer, but we also know that in every moment of the game we have to be ready to score.

“I think that after the game in FA Cup it was a bit difficult to sleep, because when you have to play these kind of games you have to prepare everything, you have to prepare the details because it’s what sometimes move the result. 

“I think that in this specific moments for us it’s very important to stay at a top level.

“As I said before, we’re talking about a tough game, for this reason we must pay great attention, we must have a plan, Barcelona have specific characteristics , we studied the opponent very well, we try to do what we know and what we prepared.

“I don’t know how many times I felt the pressure, but this is football, if you want to compete at the maximum level you have to cope with this pressure, the pressure must be your friend not your enemy.

“We have to play a perfect game if we want to win tomorrow, you start these two games with one favourite, and it’s Barcelona, because of what they have been doing for many years in football.

“At the end of the game if we are very good we will win the game.

“When you are top of the table and win a game you don’t feel the fatigue, in this case we’re speaking about a Champions League game and in Barcelona there are many players that are used to play these games.

“We have to play and to face a great team like Barcelona with our strength, tomorrow we must be excited and play with enthusiasm, passion. 

“We start the game 0-0, it doesn’t matter what the other side did in the past, now the most important thing is the present, and Barcelona is our level. It’s a great chance for us to prove what kind of team we’re and we will try to go through the next round.”

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was victim of a prank during today’s press conference when Stefano Corti and Alessandro Onnis, from the Italian satirical television show Le Iene, sitted among the journalists in Cobham’s press room, showed him a video they filmed in Manchester with José Mourinho at the time of their famous “verbal war” about one month ago.

The Red Devils boss was a victim of a prank as well, when he was given a Man United shirt to be signed, to discover only later that had printed “Antonio Conte” on his back.

The video was not visible to the assembled media, only to Conte and the Chelsea press officer. The message, spoken mostly in Italian, said: “Antonio, we sent you a messenger. A present for you from your brand new friend, Jose Mourinho! He told us he loves you. Look at what he has written on the present he sent out for you: ‘Your friend, Jose.’

“Can you promise us that next time you play against him you will share a sign of peace? Come on, Antonio…you will be friends forever!”

Conte had a little laugh at the message, but said he had “nothing” to say. Corti then presented the Blues boss with shirt, telling him: “This is a present for you. It is signed by Jose Mourinho – ‘To my friend Antonio’. Long live friendship… shall I leave it to you?”

Conte didn’t seem to amused by the whole scene. He could hardly be described as bemused either, and his responded to Corti: “No, you can take it with you. Keep it, you will give it to me later.”

The Chelsea rep thanked him for his effort, but reminded him that time is limited in this press conference, and that he really should have done the video and shirt presentation afterward; as Corti was taking time away from journalists with actual questions.

This is the video of what happened:

 

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After tonight win against WBA Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was relieved to have found some confidence before some important clashes like the upcoming ones against Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City:

“What I know is that tonight was fundamental to get three points back, to win this game, especially to find again some confidence, because when you lose two matches in a row in a bad way the confidence decreases,” the Italian coach claimed after the final whistle.

“It was also important for us to have some rest and we rested for two days.

“We started the game with a few confidence, we made some mistakes, West Brom could have scored but we were back in the game, we scored and we could have scored even more goals.

 

“It was important to overcome this hard moment.

“Now we have important clashes, like the one against Barcelona, and we had to find our confidence again before facing them.”

 

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Antonio Conte sent a message to Chelsea board about his future at the club.

After winning the title last year the Italian manager is now under pressure after a bad run of results that are putting Chelsea participation to next Champions League at risk:

“You continue to work with a manager or coach not because of what he achieves in one season but because you trust in him,” Conte said.

“Then you build something with him.

“But it doesn’t mean you have to win something, because that’s not simple. Not easy. Especially in England.

“The way I look at it, you can win [a trophy] but, at the same time, the club might not be happy to stay with you. In that case, [they might consider] it’s right to send the coach away. At the same time, you can trust in a coach and his work and continue with him even if you don’t win, and try and build something important.

“There are two ways. There is a stupid way and an intelligent way. This is my opinion. At the same time, I have great respect for everyone’s opinion. If the club decides to send me away, I don’t know when, it’ll be because they’re not happy with my work. As you know very well, my contract expires in 2019. From my point of view, there is the will to stay and continue to work for this club.”

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Speaking to the press ahead of Monday night game vs Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew said injuries made things more complicated for his team vs Southampton, but now things can get better as some players are fit again and ready to be back in action at Stamford Bridge:

Our delivery of performance and our level of play right up until the Liverpool game was probably the best we’ve been. But to suffer four injuries like we did, three from Liverpool and one from Man City, was costly against Southampton. Pardew said. “The good news for us is that we should have more players available. I think Gibbs will be available. I think Evans will be available. I think Grzegorz will be available. That’s going to strengthen my hand in picking the team and strengthen our hand from the bench as well. We can look at games after and say ‘okay, we have a decent run of games’ but we need to put some points on the board. It’s been one of those weeks where we’ve had to reposition ourselves in our minds and say ‘we really are going to carry the fight’ and the first port of call is going to be Chelsea.”

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During today’s press conference to preview the game against West Bromwich Albion Antonio Conte was asked if he regretted letting Michy Batshuayi go on loan to Borussia Dortmund in light of the revelation that Alvaro Morata’s back injury could be a long-term one.

The Italian boss took a moment to compose himself before sinking his face into his despairing hands then replied:

 

“Now the transfer market has finished,” said Conte, upon regaining his composure

“We took the decision and now this is not important to say, we could do this or the other. Now we have to finish the season in the best possible way.”

 

 

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Antonio Conte comes out in this delicate moment for Chelsea claiming his commitment to the club hasn’t changed lately:

“I’m not thinking for only one moment about the possibility of going away from this club. I repeat, my commitment is totally for this club, like that of my players,” the Italian said in today’s press conference.

“But, as you know very well, because we are talking about football a lot of times – I don’t agree with this – the coach depends on the results.

“For this reason, we have to pay great attention.

“When you have this period with such poor results, you have to divide the responsibility between me, the players and the club.

“We have to try to stop this bad run and to try to get three points against West Brom.

“It won’t be easy because in this type of situation the confidence is not high but we have to trust in our work.”

Conte opted to give his players three days off following Monday’s humilation against Watford when they conceded three goals in the final six minutes.

With a two-legged Champions League tie against Barcelona coming up, the Blues boss felt this week was a rare opportunity for his players to have a break.

“I think it was the only moment in the season to give them a rest. I think in the future it will be very important to try (to create) a little space, a little room with the federation (FA) to try to give rest to the players,” he said.

Speaking about the disappointing performance at Vicarage Road, he added:

“I think Watford was a really bad game but it can happen. Our performance was totally negative.

“The performance was negative from the start and we didn’t create the chances to score. I think that the coach has to understand and try to find the best solution to avoid this type of situation. I didn’t like the Watford performance.”

 

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Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini reveals how is to work under Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who was his coach both in the Turin club and the Italian national team:

“Conte is like a police sergeant,” he told the Daily Mail.

“We felt something very special in his atmosphere, for three years with him at Juventus and two years in the national team. When you finish training, you are dead. Not tired, dead.

“You can do it only because you believe in what he does. We had 40 days in France[Euro 2016] and it was like entering another world. You are 100 percent with him. He creates an atmosphere, everyone gives energy to each other. For sure he is one of the very best.”

Italy will have to miss out on this year’s major tournament after their playoff loss to Sweden, the first time they will miss out on the World Cup for over 60 years.

“Honestly, it will be like a dagger in my stomach,” said Chiellini on not being in Russia, “It will not be a good month. I will see bits and check the scores but I can’t imagine sitting at the TV to watch the World Cup at home.”

“Pep Guardiola spoiled and ruined the Italian defenders. He is a fantastic coach with a fantastic mind but Italian trainers have tried to copy him without the same knowledge and then in the last 10 years, we lost our identity.”

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According to many speculations and reports across Europe, Chelsea are looking for a new manager for next season to replace Antonio Conte.

Spanish newspaper SPORT, for example, claim the Blues are working to sign Luis Enrique, but, at least at the moment, they don’t want to sack Conte, as, in doing so, they would have to pay him a huge compensation fee.

The name of the former As Roma and Barcelona manager isn’t however the only one linked to Chelsea as it is understood Roman Abramovich is keen on Maurizio Sarri, Napoli’s coach as reported, for example by the Gazzetta dello Sport in the last few days. 

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has given his players three days off to try to recover from this bad moment of form.

The Blues limped again against Watford last night, losing 4-1, after last week 3-0 humiliation against Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.

Now, their campaign risks to be really compromised, with Barcelona coming to play at Stamford Bridge in two weeks.

The Italian coach and many of his players have admitted that they are feeling the physical effects of a demanding and at times unfavourable fixture schedule in recent weeks, and this move is intended to give them some much-needed rest with Chelsea not in action again until next Monday, when they host West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge in Premier League.

Chelsea’s players were regularly given as many as two days off after matches last season, thanks largely to the club’s lack of involvement in European competition, but opportunities for extended breaks have been limited this term as the team is playing Champions League, reached League Cup semifinals, who they lost against Arsenal a couple of weeks ago, and had to play an FA Cup replay match against Norwich to process to fourth round.

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