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Champions League: Messi will look to break Blues jinx

February 19, 2018 14:45 IST
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Conte wants 'perfect game', while hoping Messi’s goal drought continues

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi has not scored in 8 attempts against Chelsea in the Champions League

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi has not scored in 8 attempts against Chelsea in the Champions League. Photograph: Fotopress/Getty Images

Chelsea must play the "perfect game" to beat a formidable Barcelona in Tuesday's first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie, the manager of the Premier League club Antonio Conte has said.

The Premier League champions have recovered from a poor run of form, winning consecutive matches over West Bromwich Albion in the league and HullCity in the FA Cup, but Conte is not getting carried away.

 

"On one hand you know this team is one of the best in the world -- maybe they are favourites to win this competition," Conte told British media.

"On the other hand we must be excited because we have a great opportunity to play a massive game against a really strong team and to show which is our level.

"... We have to try to have the perfect game, the perfect game to try to make the best decisions. For this type of team... they have fantastic characteristics with the ball. But they can have weaknesses without the ball and we have to try and exploit this."

Barcelona's star forward Lionel Messi has never scored in eight matches against Chelsea and Conte is eager for his team to maintain that record.

"I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player," Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg Champions League game.

Chelsea's under-fire manager Antonio Conte says his players 'have a great opportunity to play a massive game against a really strong team' 

IMAGE: Chelsea's under-fire manager Antonio Conte says his players 'have a great opportunity to play a massive game against a really strong team'. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

"The most important thing is the present."

"We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It wont be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world."

Chelsea last defeated the Spanish side in 2012 as the London outfit marched to their first Champions League title, and midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who moved to StamfordBridge from Barcelona in 2014, is confident that Conte's side can repeat the feat.

"They try to put the first pressure very, very high – (they) always work towards the ball," Fabregas said.

"If we can (get) past this first phase of their pressure, then we have the content to do that, and not put ourselves under too much pressure, then I think we can hurt them because they will leave a lot of spaces at the back.

"Hopefully we can give a good image of what we can do and do a good performance."

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