Wednesday 7 December 2016

Francesco Guidolin hoping to improve on dismal record against Antonio Conte

Published 08/09/2016 | 17:06

Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin, pictured, is ready to renew rivalries with fellow Italian Antonio Conte
Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin, pictured, is ready to renew rivalries with fellow Italian Antonio Conte

Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin is hoping to improve on his dismal record against Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte.

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The pair first met in Italian football in the 1990s when Guidolin was a manager and Conte was a player at Lecce and Juventus.

Guidolin was a serial loser and Conte kept the upper hand when he moved into management.

"He (Conte) played with Juventus for 13 years and I managed Vicenza, Udinese and Bologna teams against him," said Guidolin, who has managed only one win in nine games against Conte the manager, ahead of Chelsea's visit on Sunday.

"Every year I met him and he almost always won because Juventus had the best squad in Italy, and Serie A was the most important league in that period.

"He had good technical quality, he was captain and I remember him because there were many games when he was a player.

"Then he was manager of Bari when I was manager of Parma in the second division and we both got promoted to Serie A together.

"His career as a player was good and now he has a very good career as manager. He is one of the most important managers in Europe."

Swansea lost their last two games before the international break, at home to Hull and at Leicester, after winning on the opening day of the season at Burnley.

Sunday marks the start of a tough-looking run of Premier League fixtures for Swansea with Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal the next five opponents.

But Guidolin takes comfort from the fact that Swansea beat several of the top sides last season, including a first Premier League win over Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium in April.

"It's a good record and that's a good thing, but we have to play well every game against every team," said Guidolin.

"The league is very strong and very difficult.

"When there's an important team like Chelsea, we need enthusiasm and focus.

"The teams are strong and it's difficult to win, draw or do well.

"I'm working to have the same attitude every week for every game."

Record Swansea signing Borja Baston is still troubled by a thigh injury which has prevented him from taking any part this season.

But the £15.5million striker signed from Atletico Madrid last season could make the bench against Chelsea.

"He's not injured but he has to go slow for two or three days," said Guidolin.

"He worked with us last week, but he needs some days of slow training.

"He is almost ready to play.

"I hope to have him on the bench for Sunday, but I'm not sure at the moment."

Press Association

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