Chelsea manager Antonio Conte promises his side will look to win against Tuesday’s opponents Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, yet warned that winning the group doesn’t necessarily ensure an easier route to the final.
Conte’s men have already qualified for the next round but know a victory at Stamford Bridge will secure top spot in Group C and a potentially easier fixture when the Champions League resumes in February.
However, Conte was quick to point out that winning the group could pair the English champions with the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the second round.
Opponents Atletico must win to have any chance to progress. Roma face FK Qarabag in the group’s other fixture with the Italians two points ahead of Diego Simeone’s team.
If Atletico, twice losing Champions League finalists in recent years, were to crash out at this stage it would provide a shock, yet Simeone promised his side would fight until the last moments of the game.
Defender David Luiz, who has been linked with a move away from Chelsea, wasn’t present during training and will miss out again through injury. Conte angrily dismissed journalists asking whether Luiz is being left out of the team due to a breakdown in his relationship with the Italian.
Another player whom Conte was rumored to have fallen out with at Chelsea is striker Diego Costa, who was sold back to Atletico earlier this season. Due to Atletico’s transfer ban, he is unable to play against his former club and Atletico defender Filipe Luis admitted the situation was frustrating.
One player who has won over the manager is Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The former Barcelona man looked out of Conte’s plans early last season but has worked his way back to take on a crucial role in the team.
The 30-year-old attributes this to hard work last season and now says he has a fantastic relationship with his coach. Conte himself admitted that Fabregas had worked had to change his mind and battle back into the team.