Saturday 15 December 2018

Giroud set to start as Conte opts to gamble

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Hull in the FA Cup. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Chelsea's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Hull in the FA Cup. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Matt Law in Barcelona

Antonio Conte has admitted that he has no choice but to gamble and send his Chelsea team out on the front foot against Barcelona tonight.

That could mean a first Chelsea start in the Champions League for Olivier Giroud, whom Conte is tempted to pick ahead of Alvaro Morata, the club's out-of-form £60m record signing.

Needing at least one goal in the Nou Camp to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals, Conte is considering sticking with the front three of Giroud, Eden Hazard and Willian that started against Crystal Palace.

Conte played without a recognised striker in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Barca at Stamford Bridge, but Hazard has made it clear that he feels more comfortable in a role off to the left or just behind a main striker such as Giroud.

Morata is yet to score this year, while Giroud netted in the FA Cup against Hull City and went close on several occasions during the 2-1 Premier League victory over Palace last Saturday.

Asked about the size of the challenge ahead, Conte said: "In the first leg we had a plan. For sure, it was not a good result for us because 1-1 means you have to score. You have to win if you want to go into the next round, or to score twice to draw 2-2.

"We must start the game with great concentration, to stay with our heads on the pitch in every moment of the game, to know there are moments where we have to suffer, to be compact. Then, when we have the ball, we must have the feeling in our heads to try and create a chance to score."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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