Antonio Conte had a plan and Chelsea almost pulled it off. In fact, they almost pulled it off quite magnificently, with Willian’s brace of posts and the team’s collection of wasted counters adding to the overall sense of frustration after one moment of poor play gifted the visitors their equalizer.
Before the match, we had talked about Chelsea needing to play a perfect game, about not crumbling under pressure, and about being clinical and efficient with our chances. Barcelona were always expected to dominate possession and thus cause Chelsea to “suffer” without the ball. But Barca also had a weakness and Conte looked to exploit that whenever Chelsea did get on the ball.
Antonio Conte says we were very close to playing a perfect game. He says there was one mistake but against this type of opponent, if you do that, you pay. There is a bit of disappointment but this game must give us confidence he adds. #CHEBAR— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018
The one mistake is of course unfortunate, but young Christensen will be stronger for it. (And he wasn’t the only one at fault; Azpilicueta should’ve never gone to ground, for example.)
However, the away goal for Barcelona does mean that Chelsea’s task for the second leg will be even harder than today. Chelsea will have to score to have any hope of advancing to the quarterfinals, though that doesn’t mean that Conte will be throwing caution to the wind.
Conte says you canot play this type of game box-to-box, or 'you lose four, five, six-nil'. "You must play an intelligent game, and we are not stupid."— Dan Levene (@danlevene) February 20, 2018
We will be able to draw confidence from this result and how well we played against one of the best teams in the world, who still have lost just one game all season, but a lot will happen between now and the second leg in three weeks’ time, including two games away in Manchester. Is the task as impossible as in 2012? Maybe, maybe not. It will have to be another famous night, that’s for sure.
Conte: "Tonight we showed that we are ready to work very hard together defensively." Says they have it in them to 'do something incredible at the Nou Camp'.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) February 20, 2018