Chelsea must be ready to suffer at Barcelona, says Conte

13Mar 2018
London
The Guardian
Chelsea must be ready to suffer at Barcelona, says Conte

CHELSEA must be prepared to “suffer” in Barcelona on Wednesday if they are to have any chance of progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals, manager Antonio Conte has said.

Antonio Conte

Barcelona scored a 75th-minute equaliser through Lionel Messi to cancel out midfielder Willian’s second-half goal in the first leg clash between the teams at Stamford Bridge last month.

Conte said his team could face a more daunting task against the five-times European champions at the Nou Camp.

“We must be very good but when you play against this type of team, which I think is one of the best in the world, you must be prepared to suffer, in the same way we did in the first leg, where we were almost perfect,” Conte told the club’s website (www.chelseafc.com).

“This is not a (Chelsea) team with great experience, we have a lot of players who are playing their first or second season in the Champions League.

“But we have to work as a team and try to be ready to suffer the moments we have to suffer, and in every moment we have to know that we can have a chance to score.”

Barcelona dominated possession in the first leg but Conte’s side were unfortunate not to end with a victory after Willian was twice denied by the woodwork before halftime.

“Given our opponents’ ability to dominate possession, especially on home soil, we will also need to show plenty of patience and concentration in waiting for our opportunities and making the most of them when they arrive,” Conte added.

Meanwhile, Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud believes that his improved link-up play with midfielders Eden Hazard and Willian are signs that he is adapting to life at Stamford Bridge, the Frenchman said.

Former Arsenal player Giroud, 31, made his second start for Chelsea since his January transfer in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace. He was unlucky not to open his league account, hitting the post in the second half.

“I’m adapting well, I try to have a good understanding on the pitch with the number 10s like Eden and Willian,” Giroud told the club’s website (www.chelseafc.com).

“It’s important keep the confidence high and work for your team mates so I tried to deliver some passes for Willian and Eden. I’m happy because we won and even if I didn’t score I’m sure I will in the next games.”

With striker Alvaro Morata struggling for form and fitness in the second half of the campaign, Chelsea have turned to Willian to provide the threat in front of goal.

The Brazilian has scored five times in the last five matches in all competitions, including Chelsea’s opener at Palace.

“He’s been very efficient in the last weeks, he’s doing very well and he’s on a good run,” Giroud added.

“We need players who can make the difference all through the game. He’s got everything to bring his quality for the team.”

Chelsea, who are fifth in the league with 56 points, turn their attention to the Champions League where they face Barcelona in the second leg of their last 16 match on Wednesday.

Playmaker Willian scored in the first leg at Stamford Bridge before his goal was cancelled out by striker Lionel Messi.

 

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