Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: Barcelona clash all about our character

Tricia Pearson
March 12, 2018

The Italian coach played with Eden Hazard as a false nine for his sides 1-0 defeat at the Etihad, despite the Belgium global admitting he dislikes the role.

Conte has faced severe criticism from fans and pundits over the last week for the way he set up his side against Manchester City in their 1-0 defeat. "I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way".

He established strong managerial credentials since returning to England in 2014 and is now seen as a "surprise contender" to land the Chelsea job by the Daily Mail.

Hazard has played in the false nine position on a number of occasions, but critics slammed the tactic last week following the loss against City, as Chelsea failed to record a shot on target. Otherwise I can take another decision and play with a striker. "If I'd started with Zaha and he'd broken down - after only one and a half training sessions - the question would have been very different".

The gaffer hints that he trusts the two forwards but refused to guarantee them a place in the starting line-up against Palace. One has to go on the bench.

"It's always a pleasure to see him and have a chat". This is not my habit.

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"Willian is playing in a fantastic way, but I want to underline not only with the ball, also without the ball, because he's working very hard, he's helping the team without the ball, and I think he's showing great maturity in this point of his career".

"We don't have that experience and you have to build the experience over years".

"After that, I improved a lot". They have lost their last two league games to City and Manchester United. While all the rest of the Serie A games were called off that day, Conte and Marcos Alonso - a former team-mate of Astori at Fiorentina - had to carry on regardless.

"But the tactics were the same against Barcelona and, against Barcelona, I didn't listen to anyone complaining". I did this once.

"(Against Palace) for sure we have this option to play with Giroud or Morata as number nine.

"It's a shame we didn't play the whole of the game as we played the second half", Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager, said.

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