Chelsea vs Barcelona - Preparing for Barcelona has given Antonio Conte sleepless nights

Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2018 by PA

Chelsea vs Barcelona - Preparing for Barcelona has given Antonio Conte sleepless nights

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits planning for the visit of Barcelona to Stamford Bridge in the Champions League has given him sleepless nights.

The thought of trying to keep a strikeforce of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez quiet has understandably given the Italian plenty to think about.

Conte, whose side warmed up for Barcelona by beating Hull City 4-0 to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, knows he needs to ensure every eventuality is considered and he hopes his game plan sees his side take a lead into the second leg at the Nou Camp on March 14.

“In these days after the game in the FA Cup, I must be honest… it was a bit difficult to sleep well,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference.

“When you have to play this type of game, you have to prepare. You have to prepare everything. You have to prepare big things, but the smaller details too.

“They can move a result a lot of the time. We have an idea. We have a plan in our heads. I think that, in this specific moment, it’s very important to pick the players who are at the top of their form and then try and do our best to win the game.”

Top of Conte’s wish list will be to ensure Lionel Messi’s goal drought against the Blues continues.

Messi has yet to score against Chelsea in eight previous meetings and Conte knows the Argentina international can turn a game with a moment of magic.

“We are talking about the best player in the world,” Conte said.

“Messi has the capacity to solve the situation and create a chance when you are not seeing the chance to score.

“We are talking about a fantastic player. We have to pay great attention, but not only to Messi.

“We have to know that, during the game, we must be prepared to suffer. But, at the same time, we must have the idea to go and score at any moment.”

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admits he is facing “one of the best managers in the world” when his side take on Conte’s Chelsea.

Conte’s future remains a hot topic of debate after winning just four of their last 12 games in all competitions and two of those victories came against West Brom who are bottom of the Premier League and Hull who are struggling at the wrong end of the Championship.

Valverde insists his opposite number has proved in several jobs throughout his career, that he is one of the best managers around.

“He is one of the best managers in the world with a great record,” Valverde said in his pre-match press conference.

“Not only that he has shown at Chelsea, but previously with Juventus and the Italian national team, you can see the quality of his coaching in his teams.

“He has the classic Italian methods, very strong defence who can counter at any moment.

“Chelsea have a very unique style of football, they know their game.

“The English style of football is a unique, physical style, but they play good football as well.”

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