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Antonio Conte claims it would have been ‘suicidal’ to play Alvaro Morata against Barcelona

The Chelsea boss surprised everyone when he announced Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench and opted for Eden Hazard in a false nine position instead

Give yourself a pat on the back Antonio Conte.

Everyone had their doubts but he masterminded an astute tactical performance to restrict Barcelona to just one goal at Stamford Bridge and come away with a well-earned draw.

Chelsea realistically could and should have scored three goals and Willian should be taking home a match ball.


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Drink it in Willian

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Drink it in Willian

And that was without either of Chelsea’s strikers in the starting lineup.

Conte went with a front three of Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard playing in the false nine role.

Willian hit the post twice in the first half before finally rolling a beautiful curled shot into the bottom corner to break the deadlock, admittedly after some odd marking from Barcelona.


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Hammer-time

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Hammer-time

But the thing that surprised everyone the most was Conte’s decision to bench both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud.

The Chelsea boss has explained his decision and it is pretty damning on his £70million summer signing.

Conte told Mediaset Premium it would have been ‘suicidal’ to play a 3-5-2 with Morata joining Hazard up front.

Would these two be better or worse as siamese twins?

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Would these two be better or worse as siamese twins?

“It’s a pity about the draw and there are regrets, because because when you play against a side like Barcelona, you need the perfect performance to win,” Conte said.

“We did that for nine tenths of the game and unfortunately paid for our only error. Now we need a massive performance at Camp Nou.

“Playing Alvaro Morata from the start, with him and Eden Hazard, without Willian or Pedro, would’ve lost our balance. It would’ve been suicidal.”

Morata trying to pretend the yellow wasn’t for him

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Morata trying to pretend the yellow wasn’t for him

Morata came on in the 83rd minute but couldn’t do anything to give Chelsea a slender lead for the next game, but did pick up a yellow in his short cameo.

Chelsea put in a disciplined showing to keep Lionel Messi quiet for large parts of the game and it was only a nightmare error from Andreas Christensen that allowed the little magician to finally score his first goal against Chelsea in his ninth game against the Blues.

Now they face a difficult return leg in Barcelona where the runaway La Liga leaders have been imperious this season.

It’s going to take a Jose Mourinho circa Inter 2009 display to come through this one.