The boss addressed the media at Cobham to look ahead to Sunday’s tie away to Leicester City, a side he knows from personal experience will provide a stern test. The FA Cup is a competition he reached the final of in his first season in England and he is hoping to match that achievement and go one better in the closing weeks of this campaign.
‘It was a pity to go out of the Champions League, especially after two good performances against Barcelona, but this is football, this is life,’ Conte stated.
‘Now we have to face another competition and we must have great confidence to trust in our strength and try to move on. It’s a great competition – the oldest competition in the world. Last season we did very well to reach the final at Wembley, and now we have this possibility to reach the semi-final again.
‘It won’t be easy,’ added Conte. ‘Leicester are a good team, a team who won the title two years ago. In their squad they have many talented players with good qualities. They want to fight a lot. In the game we played against them at home we suffered a lot because they put a lot of pressure on and they ran a lot.’
Conte was asked if he had any special plans to deal with one of the Foxes’ stars, Jamie Vardy.
‘Special plans? Our special plan is to try to defend well. For sure we know about Vardy’s characteristics. He is a clever player. He is very good at attacking space and finding the right time to do. We must also pay great attention if they decide to play with [Kelechi] Iheanacho or [Shinji] Okazaki.’
Regarding his own team, Conte said there are no rules in place for deciding which goalkeeper he selects in different competitions. Willy Caballero has been between the posts in our domestic cup games so far this season, and today he has been recalled by the Argentinean national team for the first time since 2015.
With international football taking centre stage after this weekend’s game, Conte was asked about Gary Cahill and Alvaro Morata, who have not been named in the England and Spain squads respectively for upcoming friendlies. Could they make the World Cup squad this summer?
‘This question is for the coach of the national team, not for me. My only worry is that we try to have our players in the best form for Chelsea. Then the national team coach has to make the best decision for the country.’