Davide Zappacosta says Saturday’s dramatic comeback win at Southampton has enhanced the belief within the squad going into the closing stages of the season.
Antonio Conte’s side play a second consecutive Premier League away game this evening as we head north to take on seventh-placed Burnley, where an away win would enable us to close the gap on Tottenham Hotspur to five points.
There is no doubt the manner in which victory was secured at the weekend, with the Blues scoring three times in the space of eight minutes to overturn a two-goal deficit, has helped the confidence ahead of what promises to be a stern test at Turf Moor this evening.
‘It was great to be a part of it,’ says Zappacosta, who played the full game at St Mary’s. ‘We were 2-0 down and in the Premier League it’s always very difficult to come back when you are losing, but we showed great character, great strength and we managed to come back.
‘It can definitely act as a springboard for us to kick on and really believe that we can qualify for the Champions League. Tottenham drew with Brighton on Tuesday so now we have a great opportunity to close the gap. We still believe and obviously the win against Southampton has helped that.
‘It’s definitely a very important match against Burnley, we can’t afford to lose any more games between now and the end of the season. It’s fundamental that we win if we are to have a chance of reaching our target of qualifying for the Champions League.’
A deadline-day arrival from Torino in August, Zappacosta made his debut in our away win at Leicester just over a week later and has played 32 times in total for the Blues up until now.
As he approaches the end of his first season in English football, it feels like a natural time for the 25-year-old to share his thoughts on life in England.
‘It’s been a fantastic experience for me, I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been a learning curve,’ he says.
‘It’s definitely a harder league than in Italy so it takes a bit of time to adapt to the high rhythm of the Premier League, but I’m having a great time here.
‘I’ve settled in very well on and off the pitch. London is a very beautiful city, despite the weather, and once you’ve been here a while you learn to get used to, and even like it.
‘London has so much to offer. Obviously being a footballer we have certain constraints in what we can do but even still, it’s a great city and I’ve settled in very well.’
The smoothness of Zappacosta’s transition from Italy to England was helped by the warm welcome of Alvaro Morata, who was still quite new to the club himself at the time, and assisted the defender on his arrival.
The two players have gone on to forge a very close bond and travel to training together every day.
‘We didn’t really know each other before, only from playing against each other with Torino and Juventus a few times,’ Zappacosta says.
‘Alvaro was the first person to help me when I arrived as he speaks Italian and that helped create a connection between us. He gave me a hand and made me feel welcome at the club so we became close friends because of that.’
Tonight’s game at Burnley is followed by a huge FA Cup semi-final against Southampton at Wembley on Sunday, where the Blues will be aiming to reach the final for the second consecutive season.
Zappacosta is no stranger to the famous stadium, having played the full game as Italy drew with England in a friendly last month, and he hopes he will be able to enjoy a couple more memorable trips to Wembley before the season draws to a conclusion.
‘Winning a trophy in my first season here would be fantastic, the cherry on the cake, so we will be doing everything we can to achieve that,’ he says.
‘I played at Wembley with my national team and it was a great experience. The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic, it’s a very warm place to play, and I’m really looking forward to going back there again at the weekend.’