Conte: Plan in place

Antonio Conte says his team must show ambition when we have the ball tomorrow and be prepared to endure without it if we are to get a positive result against Barcelona.

The boss believes only a ‘perfect game’ will be sufficient to beat Ernesto Valverde’s side, but as he explained at his press conference to preview the first leg of this mouth-watering last 16 tie, there is a plan in place to try to achieve this, and training in the build-up to the contest at Stamford Bridge has been positive.

‘We are talking about a massive game, and a big challenge for us,’ Conte said.

‘We have to play against a fantastic team, one of the best in the world. We must be excited to play this type of game. It won’t be easy. We must pay great attention, but at the same time we must have ambition to try to play our football.

‘We know the characteristics of Barcelona very well. They like to have possession of the ball; they like to dominate. In every game they are able to create many chances. For this reason, we must be prepared to suffer without the ball, to be compact, to not lose our head during the game, and then to try with the ball what we know, and what we try doing in training.

‘We have worked and prepared well for this game,’ Conte added. ‘We start as underdogs, for sure. For this reason, we must be excited to have this challenge. These two games will be very important to understand what is our level in this competition, and what we have to do in the future.’

With a full selection of attacking players to choose from, Conte has decisions to make with regards to both personal and shape. He explained how his preparation has gone in the past few days.

‘After the FA Cup game, it was a bit difficult to sleep well, because when you have to play this type of game, you have to prepare everything: the big things, and the details.

‘We have an idea; we have a plan in our heads. In this specific moment for us it’s very important to pick the players that are in the best form, and then try to do our best during the game.

‘We studied the opponent very well, and now we have to play and try to do what we know. This is the only way. We must have the idea that at any point we can try to go forward and score.  

‘We must play with great enthusiasm and passion. We have to play a perfect game if we want to win. It’s a big chance for us.’

It was put to Conte that he and his team might be feeling even more pressure ahead of tomorrow’s game because of the results of the English teams in the Champions League last week. His response was emphatic.

‘If you want to compete at the maximum level, you have to live with this pressure. A team like Chelsea must have the right pressure in every game. You must play with only one idea: to try to win. Sometimes you are able to, sometimes you are not, but your idea must be this.  

‘If you want to stay at this level, pressure must be your friend, not your enemy.’