Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Conte lauds Willian as Chelsea face Barcelona

Conte lauds Willian as Chelsea face Barcelona

Antonio Conte says Chelsea will need to show resilience against Barcelona if they are to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Blues head coach was speaking after watching his side cling on unconvincingly to a 2-1 victory over relegation-threatened Crystal Palace. We know we have to play the flawless game.

The Blues are level at 1-1 following a tight first-leg, which saw a mistake from Andreas Christensen allow Lionel Messi to cancel out Willian's opener easily despite an otherwise sound performance from the Premier League champions. "Defensively, we were very good in both games".

"We are playing against one of the best teams in the world".

Marcos Alonso's first visit to the Nou Camp will be a memorable occasion for his family with the Spaniard's father a former Barcelona great and his grandfather a Real Madrid legend.

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"It won't be easy".

"The best way sometimes is to speak to the players, to try to find together the right plan to play this game".

While Eden Hazard has been waging a public war of words with Antonio Conte about his frustrations in a No 9 role, his strike partners appear to be enduring internal battles. In front of the players.

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Is Neymar really going to track back and help out a galavanting Layvin Kurzawa (or whoever replaces him next season) down the left in the Italian's 3-4-3? Many players have had chances to score, not only Olivier.

Chelsea signed Olivier Giroud from Arsenal in January but he has been used sparingly by Conte, who added: "For sure, [Giroud] is ready". And then, in the next game, I didn't play.

"I didn't see a lot of shots on goal from Manchester City, and this is very odd". Let's go there with confidence we can put in a good show and do the best we possibly can to get through to the next round.

Chelsea are now two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in-hand.

"The tactics were the same against Barcelona [in the Champions League]", Conte said. It was all about the three points from the word go, however we got them. I've always loved to play the game'. I think that, in some games, it's right to start with him. "We did have all 11 doing that in the second half".

But Hodgson dismissed suggestions that he could have let Zaha start the game.

He did rue the late strike from Alexander Sorloth which was ruled out for a foul in the build-up.

"He told me it was a lack of respect for my team-mates, first of all, and then for him, the club and the fans".

They reached half-time two goals up through Willian and a Martin Kelly own goal and with the crowd anticipating not much more than a few early substitutions to rest key personnel.

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