Monday 9 December 2019

Antonio Conte says Chelsea can achieve 'something incredible' in Nou Camp against Barcelona

Ernesto Valverde (L) and Chelsea's Antonio Conte greet before the first leg
Ernesto Valverde (L) and Chelsea's Antonio Conte greet before the first leg

Andy Sims

Antonio Conte has called on Chelsea to achieve something "incredible" against Barcelona at the Nou Camp next month.

The Blues face an uphill task to reach the last eight of the Champions League after Lionel Messi's equaliser cancelled out Willian's strike in a 1-1 first-leg draw at Stamford Bridge.

But Chelsea boss Conte believes if his side keep their heads and execute their game plan like they did on Tuesday night, they can upset the odds.

"It won't be easy, we must be realistic, we are talking about Barcelona," said the Italian.

"But we have showed that if we are ready to work hard together defensively and at the same time continue to have the right feeling when we have the ball, to have the chance to score, then we can try to do something incredible.

"You have to respect the opponent, in this case when you play Barcelona box to box you know very well you are crazy and you can lose the game 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0.

Read more here:

"When you play this type of game you must use intelligence. You must play an intelligent game, and we are not stupid."

Willian had rattled both posts in front of The Shed in the first half, but he made it third time lucky on the hour, pinging a low shot into the bottom corner.

However, Barcelona hit back with 15 minutes remaining, punishing the first mistake of the night from the Chelsea defence.

Conte, who revealed he had been having trouble sleeping ahead of the match, will be having nightmares about the equaliser.

Andreas Christensen's suicidal pass across goal allowed Andres Iniesta to cut the ball back for Messi to score against the Blues for the first time in nine matches.

The visitors predictably dominated possession, racking up 73 per cent while making 887 passes to Chelsea's 325.

But Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said: "We still have to be respectful of their style of play. Anything can happen.

"Yes we passed the ball more. But they pressed us high and they made life very hard for us.

"The away goal is not definitive but it is important, yes."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

PA Media

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport