Tuesday 24 April 2018

Antonio Conte reveals why Italy's Euro 2016 loss to Ireland kept him awake at night

“Before the games, usually I don’t sleep a lot,” Conte explained. Photo: Reuters
“Before the games, usually I don’t sleep a lot,” Conte explained. Photo: Reuters

Miguel Delaney

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says that Ireland's 1-0 win over Italy at Euro 2016 gave him a rare sleepless night after a game, as he strove to figure out how his former side lost to Robbie Brady's late goal and the team's "incredible" intensity.

The Italian admitted last week that he rarely sleeps the night before games because he is so engrossed deeply thinking about the tactical challenges of a match, and defeats like the one inflicted on his team by Ireland also keep him awake.

Being in charge of Italy and Juventus in the last five years meant defeats have been rare, though, with Martin O'Neill one of only 14 managers to beat Conte in a competitive game in that time.

The Italians had already qualified for the last 16 ahead of that match in Lille and many players were rested, but the Chelsea boss refused to put that loss down to that, as he praised Ireland's approach.

"Before the games, usually I don't sleep a lot," Conte explained ahead of Chelsea's opening Premier League clash with West Ham tomorrow night. "Two, three, four hours, then, when I wake up, I start to think, to the game, to the situation and often I have a good idea on the tactical aspect in the first hour of the morning. After the game, when I win, I sleep easily. When I don't win, it's very difficult for me to sleep.

"Lately, I was lucky because I often win with the national team and with Juventus. But when it did happen that I lost, I need to think quickly to know the reason. For example, in Europe, when we lost against Ireland, it happened. We have already qualified, but we lost the game, and I didn't like this. In the middle of the night, I wanted to watch the match again to understand why, which is the reason because today we lost.

"The newspapers said I changed a lot of players in that game, but for me it's not the true [reason]. This game, I think my players work a lot with the right commitment but we [struggled] a lot with the pitch, because the pitch was terrible and, also, Ireland played with an intensity that was incredible and they were rewarded in the end."

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