Conte: Beating Barca would only matter if we then went on and won the tournament..
ANTONIO CONTE has warned his players they will have to play the perfect game to stand any chance of knocking out Barcelona.
Conte (left) came close to pulling off a victory in the first leg, but one defensive mistake gifted Lionel Messi a precious away goal to leave Chelsea needing a minor miracle in the Nou Camp. But, despite the odds being stacked against them, Conte insists that even victory would not be the best result of his managerial career. The Blues boss claims trophies are the only thing that matter to him and ultimately he may need the Champions League to keep him in a job this summer.
Conte said: “Yes, I think the first leg, in the first game, we played a really good game and almost a perfect game.
“When you play against Barcelona, against a team I consider one of the best in the world, if you want to have any hope to win the game, you have to play a perfect game. In the first leg we did this.
“When we made a mistake, we paid a lot for this mistake. For sure, the final result of the
first leg gave a great advantage to Barcelona. But, at the same time, we know very well the philosophy of Barcelona.
“They want to play their football, to score and to win the game. We have to do our best.
“We must start the game with great concentration, to stay with our heads on the pitch in every moment of the game, to know there are moments where we have to suffer – not only Chelsea, but every team who play Barcelona must be prepared to suffer, to be compact.
“Then, when we have the ball, we must have the feeling in our heads to try to create a chance to score.”
It was Andreas Christensen’s clumsy backpass that ruined Chelsea’s night. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month and leaves the Blues needing to score this evening.
Six years ago, Chelsea drew 2-2 in the Nou Camp to knock out Barcelona on the way to winning the Champions League. That result went down in folklore and will surely give them hope.
A repeat would certainly change the mood surrounding Conte and the expectation that he will leave this summer.
But the former Italy boss, who has won four league titles in his career with Juventus and Chelsea, insisted that knocking out Barcelona would not go down as one of his best moments – unless they ended up winning the trophy. He added: “In my career, I consider an achievement when you win something. I think this is a big achievement for a manager, for a coach. In this case, we are talking about the last 16.
“For sure, we have to make a great game if we want to have a chance to go into the next round. We are playing against Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world.
“They are winning the league, they are in a final of the Spanish Cup.
“They have all the characteristics to have a great season. But, as you know very well, you are never sure with football. For this reason, I repeat, like the first leg, we want to try to play our football and try in every moment we have the ball to create chances, to score, to create problems for Barcelona.”
Chelsea forward Willian said: “I was watching that game in 2012. But, for me, every game has its history. This game is in the past. The game now will be another history, a new story. A new game.
“I think for us to go through we have to do a perfect game with the ball and without the ball.
“That’s the most important thing to get through to the next round – a perfect game.”
FAB TIME FOR BLUES Cesc Fabregas enjoying training in the Nou Camp with his team-mates yesterday