Chelsea are safely in Barcelona ahead of tomorrow`s make or break Champions League fixture. We`ve been here before, and we know tomorrow`s game will be a nervy affair. Antonio Conte has said he expects his team to suffer against the Catalans, they probably won`t be suffering as much as those watching and supporting.
Conte won`t be looking to chase the game early on, he`ll still want to be in the tie as the clock winds down. Chelsea will need to score though. Conte has been speaking ahead of the game and he believes patience is the key,
“Barcelona try to dominate the game, have a lot of possession and try to get players between the lines and go straight towards the goal. We must pay great attention, be compact and suffer. Without the ball, you suffer. You have to defend well. When you have the ball, I repeat, we must know very well which is the way to go, to try to score and create chances, in the same way we did at Stamford Bridge.”
It sounds as though we are going to see a similar set-up to the first leg of the tie. Chelsea played with Eden Hazard up front in the false nine role he doesn`t enjoy. We could be seeing more of the same tomorrow night.
The first leg was going to plan as far as Conte was concerned, it was a simple mistake by Andreas Christensen that gave Barcelona at foothold in the game heading back to Spain.
“1-1 means you have to score, you have to win if you go to the next round, or score two goals and draw 2-2. As I said before, we have to stay in the game. We know the difficulty we face tomorrow, but if we want to go to the next round we must stay in every moment of the game.”
Conte said that Antonio Rudiger is fit to play having missed Saturday`s win over Crystal Palace. The team have trained in the Nou Camp this evening and Conte thinks the players who have never played in the stadium will be looking forward to the experience tomorrow brings,
Spirits high at the Camp Nou! 😄 pic.twitter.com/F9IlCGPPm9
? Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 13, 2018
“It is a fantastic stadium with a big pitch, I think every single player (who has) to play this type of game against Barcelona, must be excited. A lot of my players never played in this stadium, this is the first time, and we want to try to do our best.”
One player who has had the Nou Camp experience is Alvaro Morata, something that could improve his chances of seeing some game time. Morata has looked a little low on confidence recently and his frustrations have been there for all to see. Conte, was obviously asked for his thoughts on the Spaniard,
“I saw great will, great focus, great will to fight for a place. For Morata, this is the first full season in his career. In the past with Real Madrid, with Juventus, he was on the bench, the first substitute on, if the striker was injured.
For this reason, I think we must have great patience. We are talking about an important striker and he is a really important prospect for Chelsea, for the present and the future. He will be in contention for tomorrow`s game.”
The jury`s very much out regarding Morata, his tendency to lose his head when all around are keeping theirs is a worry. The Spanish air though, may be the catalyst that sparks his inner self into action. It`s all guesswork for the next 24 hours, but this time tomorrow, we`ll be somewhat closer to gauging our chances of progressing.