14 Mar Conte says Chelsea must suffer in order to succeed against Barcelona
Antonio Conte has told Chelsea to be prepared to suffer to have any chance of progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Barcelona.
Chelsea must score in Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Nou Camp after last month’s first leg at Stamford Bridge finished 1-1.
“The final result for the first leg gives a greater advantage for Barcelona,” Conte said.
“There will be moments we have to suffer. Every team must be prepared to suffer possession, because Barcelona like to try to dominate the game.
“And then when you have the ball you must have in your head, your heart, the feeling you have to go to try to take the chance to score.”
Eden Hazard may need to suffer more than most if he is chosen as a ‘false nine’.
And Willian hinted Chelsea will stick to the game plan which almost served them well in London.
He said: “We come here to do exactly the same job that we did at Stamford Bridge.”
The Belgium playmaker expressed frustration about being deployed in the position following the lacklustre loss at Manchester City, having fulfilled the role in the first leg with Barcelona.
He could be selected there again, or Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata could be chosen as a more conventional striker.
Hazard is important to Chelsea, but must win “important trophies” to be considered in the same class as Barcelona’s “genius” Andres Iniesta, Conte says.
Iniesta is in the Barcelona squad despite being doubtful with a hamstring injury.
And Conte waxed lyrical when asked about the differences facing Barcelona without the Spain playmaker.
The Italian was later asked about Hazard, and, although insisting they were different players, occupying different positions, Conte says the Belgium ace must become a more prolific winner of trophies to emulate Iniesta.
“We are talking about two different players with different careers,” Conte said.
“Iniesta won a lot in his career and Hazard has to start to win important trophies in his career.
“We are talking about two different players. Hazard is more a number 10 and Iniesta is a thinking midfielder.
“And a midfielder that thinks, to stay always in the centre of Barcelona’s play.”
Conte insisted he would not be happy if Iniesta is ruled out.
He said: “Andres Iniesta is a genius of football. I like to compare him with Andrea Pirlo (who played under Conte for Juventus and Italy).
“This type of game it’s right to face the best players. Don’t hope that they could miss (out) through injury.”
Willian scored for Chelsea and twice hit the woodwork in the first leg, only for Lionel Messi to punish an Andreas Christensen error with his first goal in nine attempts against Chelsea.
The Argentina playmaker missed last Saturday’s win at Malaga after attending the birth of his third child and is poised to return against the Blues.
Messi was in the Barca team held to a 2-2 draw by Chelsea in a memorable performance in adversity as the Blues went on to win the 2012 Champions League.
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said: “There are days when the ball does not want to go in.
“It was a sad game because in the end it was not possible to go to the final. We were unfortunate to be knocked out.”