Antonio Conte

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FA Cup: Conte “pleased” by Chelsea’s rebound after CL defeat

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The mark of a truly great team is not only found in the number of trophies won, but how they bounce back from failure.

[ MORE: Chelsea drawn against Southampton in semis; Man United-Spurs ]

After bowing out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday, Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea could have gone one of two ways during Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash with Leicester City — and for the rest of the season, for that matter. When Jamie Vardy pulled Leicester back to 1-1 with fewer than 15 minutes until full-time, the Blues had a choice to make: keep fighting, or fold under (more) pressure.

[ MORE: Spurs advance to FA Cup semifinal | Man United join them ]

To their credit, they were undeterred and booked their place in the semifinals, where they’ll face Southampton, courtesy of Pedro‘s 105th-minute winner. Following the game, Conte was highly complimentary (by his standard) of his players — quotes from the BBC:

“A tough game but we knew this. The last game at home we suffer a lot against Leicester. We must be pleased today. I saw a good performance and great character from my team. After the game in the Champions League when we spent a lot of energy they showed good heart to beat Leicester.”

“When you arrive at this point, every game is difficult. They (Southampton) have just changed coach but now it is important to be happy and to go for another game at Wembley. We will try to do our best to reach the final. We want to give satisfaction to our fans.

“I think that for us our target is to try and do our best. To work hard with the players. I must be pleased with the commitment of the players. If you can win a trophy it is important for a team like Chelsea. But the most important thing is for us to fight until the end in every competition. We will try to reach the final.”

[ MORE: Southampton see off Wigan | Chelsea complete the final four ]

As for Pedro, he believes scoring a goal of Sunday’s import will do wonders for his confidence, which could prove a massive boon in Chelsea’s quest to overcome a five-point deficit and usurp fourth-place Tottenham:

“It was a very difficult game. It was good for me to score for my confidence and to get to the next round.

“It was hard to find the pass in between the lines. Leicester defended very well and pressed high. It is difficult to win against this team.

“The most important thing for us was the teamwork and to make it through to the next round. “We have to fight in the next few games. It is a difficult situation for us in the league but we have to fight.

“We have a good opportunity to go to the final and fight for a place in the top four. But now is the moment to relax and enjoy this win.”

Conte, Courtois, Alonso know why Barca beat Chelsea: Messi

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Marcos Alonso gave a lot of answers in his post-match comments following Chelsea’s ouster at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Turns out he only really needed the first four words.

[ MORE: Match recap | Quarterfinal field set ]

“They have Lionel Messi and I think they were the better team even though we competed well in both games. If we concede easy goals and miss the chances, then it is very difficult against this team,” Alonso said.

Messi had two goals and an assist in the 3-0 second leg win, and scored in the first leg after entering the tie goal-free in his career versus Chelsea.

In a word, he was incredible.

Italian defender Alonso was one of several players, with Willian and N'Golo Kante sure to be mentioned by many, to put in industrious efforts in the loss, but the critical focus will be on a near invisible Eden Hazard and off-balance goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Both of Wednesday’s goals were put between the legs of Courtois. He wasn’t pleased.

“I don’t think we deserve to be out, but individual mistakes cost us in both legs. The first goal, I did not expect Lionel Messi to shoot from that angle and I was too late in closing my legs. It was a mistake on my part.

“I played against Messi a lot of time. I have already conceded goals like that before. The weakest point is between the legs or a goalkeeper, it is annoying, I cannot hide inside, I have to be a man and come out. I made some good saves too but we go out with conceding four goals from four mistakes.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte pointed to a possible penalty when Alonso was taken down in the box, but mostly lavished praise on the Argentine wonder.

“Tonight (and) in the two legs, Lionel Messi made the difference,” Conte said. “We are talking about the best player in the world.”

“Over the two legs we were a bit unlucky,” he continued. “We hit the post four times. In our best moment today they scored. They were very clinical. We created many chances. We are talking about a player (Messi) that every season he scores 60 goals. We are talking not about a top player but a super top player. He made the difference. We have no regrets. I must be pleased for the commitment. They gave everything tonight. We didn’t deserve to lose 3-0.”

In the film “Billy Madison,” Billy forces an awkward noise out of his instrument and points to his rival Eric after the latter’s virtuoso violin performance and just says, “He’s good.”
Something like that.

UCL Weds: Barca hosts Chelsea; Bayern carries huge lead

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Call it a UEFA Champions League doubleheader, with a Turkish kickoff at 1 p.m. ET and a battle in Spain at 3:45 p.m.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to UCL exit ]

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is demanding his side “stay in every moment of the game” as it attempts to score at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. Chelsea opens the leg with a 1-1 score line, and knows it needs a 1-0, 2-1, 2-2, or better.

And you’re not going to have a ton of the ball. Here’s Conte and one of his buzz words, suffer:

“Barcelona try to dominate the game, have a lot of possession and try to get players between the lines and go straight towards the goal. We must pay great attention, be compact and suffer. Without the ball, you suffer. You have to defend well. When you have the ball, I repeat, we must know very well which is the way to go, to try to score and create chances, in the same way we did at Stamford Bridge.”

As for Barcelona, the Blaugranas have not forgotten how Chelsea knocked them out of the UCL in 2011-12.

“You can draw conclusions from every game. In 2012,     we started out really well, we went ahead on the scoreboard, we went for it in the second leg, we missed a penalty kick — that’s all part of football. It was a sad game, because we could have gone through to the final. We played great in those games, and it seems inconceivable that we didn’t go through, but that’s the way football is.”

As for the other tie, Bayern Munich visits Besiktas for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Besiktas is a fine team, but posting 5-0 or better over Bayern Munich in Turkey is a bit too far-fetched to consider more than a paragraph on this second leg. Expect Besiktas to show well, but keeping Bayern off the board is quite a challenge. Bayern boss Jupp Heycknes may rest a fella or two:

“We have 20 absolutely top players, and I trust all of them. There’s no preferred line-up. It varies. But of course I won’t act against my conviction that we need a good balance between defence and attack in the team. That’ll be the case tomorrow too.”

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace

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Chelsea hosts Crystal Palace on Saturday from Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via as Antonio Conte‘s side aims to close the gap on the top four clubs in the Premier League.

The Blues sit five points out of Tottenham Hotspur — fourth place — while Palace is one of seven sides in the bottom half of England’s top flight firmly in the relegation race.

Good news has come for Conte and Co. though, as Chelsea gets midfielder N’Golo Kante back from injury ahead of the weekend’s fixture and next week’s crucial UEFA Champions League tie against Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Palace will be battling time as Wilfried Zaha and Mamadou Sakho are both game-time decisions for the visitors.

What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on not overlooking Palace“They [Palace] lost the last couple of games. They deserved more against Tottenham and against United.

“We must pay great attention. We need to have a good performance, to get three points. We’re playing against a really good team, with talented players.”

Palace boss Roy Hodgson about Chelsea’s inconsistency“Normally when you come against a team not having the best of times, that can be a very dangerous time to play them. They have fantastic players and are a brilliantly run club, a powerful club.

“We can only hope that we can reproduce the recent performances against similar opponents, and give them as good a game as we did against Spurs and [Manchester] United.”


The Blues may have to rotate their lineup with a vital UCL matchup with Barca upcoming, but they are still the favorites in this match. If Zaha and Sakho cannot play, things will be that much more difficult for Palace. Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace

Report: Conte, Pochettino top manager choices for PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain’s crushing UEFA Champions League defeat this week has the club scrambling to reboot after the French side spent exorbitant money last summer to challenge for Europe’s top crown.

[ MORE: Giovani dos Santos talks Galaxy, El Tri and more ]

Manager Unai Emery was in hot water after his side lost their first leg encounter to Real Madrid last month, however, PSG’s failure to progress in the Round of 16 second leg has the former Sevilla boss looking more and more likely that he’ll be sacked this season.

Several reports have suggested that the Ligue 1 giants have lined up their top candidates to replace Emery, as Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino have been tabbed to take over at the Parc des Princes.

Conte — the current Chelsea manager — has been in hot water of his own at Stamford Bridge with the reigning Premier League champions having fallen to fifth place in England’s top flight.

Meanwhile, Pochettino has found success in the PL over recent seasons, but struggled to complete the task of winning a major title. Spurs crashed out of the UCL on Wednesday after a tragic defeat to Juventus.

While the two PL bosses appear to be the clear favorites to take over in France next season, Andres Villas-Boas has also emerged as a candidate due to his ties PSG sporting director Antero Henrique when they worked together at FC Porto.