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