Sunday February 18, 2018

By : AFP

Conte happy to have selection headache ahead of Barca clash


Conte happy to have selection headache ahead of Barca clash

Chelsea stars Willian and Olivier Giroud celebrate against Hull City [Photo: Courtesy]
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte welcomed his selection headache ahead of a vital few weeks for the English champions after a much-changed side thrashed Hull City 4-0 to reach the FA Cup quarter finals on Friday

Willian was the star of the show with two fabulous strikes from outside the box, while Pedro Rodriguez and Olivier Giroud with his first for the club also struck as all four goals came in the first-half.

Conte had left Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard out of his squad before Barcelona’s visit to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.

“Before an important game, against Barcelona, tonight I go to my house with many doubts in my mind, which is the best starting XI to start the game against Barcelona,” said Conte.

“But it’s right to be so. We must take the right time to make the best decision to pick the best XI to start that game.”

In between the two legs against the Catalan giants, Chelsea travel to Manchester United and Manchester City on Premier League duty as they battle for a place in the top four.

However, Conte believes victory, allied to a 3-0 win over West Brom on Monday, has restored the confidence needed to beat Barca to a Chelsea side that was reeling after back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Watford less than two weeks ago.

“We are talking about a massive game. But now, we must be confident,” added the Italian.

“I consider Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. In one side, you must be a bit sad to play against them, but, on the other hand, you must be excited.

“You have to try and compete with them at this level. It won’t be easy, for sure, but we must have the right confidence and then we’ll see what happens.”

Willian did more than most to try and force his way into Conte’s side for Tuesday.

The Brazilian scored from long-range off both feet and saw another effort come back of the post two minutes from time.

“The hat-trick was almost there, I tried, but the most important thing was the win,” said Willian.

“After a difficult moment we are back to winning games. When you are winning games the confidence goes high.”