Chelsea boss Antonio Conte won’t be wasting any time, having watched his side beat Qarabag 4-0 at Baku Stadium in Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
The Italian, who has been fuming over Chelsea’s hectic schedule in the press all week, revealed that his match preparations for the team’s upcoming clash against Liverpool would begin on the flight back home.
Goals from Eden Hazard, Willian (2), and Cesc Fabregas saw the Blues defeat a valiant Qarabag side quite convincingly, and the Londoners have booked passage through to the knockout stage of the Champions League as a result. Their joy, though, will be short-lived, as they are due to face Premier League rivals Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, a mere three days after their grueling away fixture against the Azerbaijan side.
The flight alone is enough to set them back, with no less than six hours traveled in the air when they flew in, and, of course, the same is expected on their trip back.
Conte, though, wants to use that time wisely, and speaking to the media after the match, via The Guardian, the former Italy manager said that he would be starting his game prep in the air. While obviously pleased to be heading to the round of 16 in the Champions League, Conte blasted the English Football Association, whose scheduling has left his side hugely disadvantaged.
Liverpool will have more time to rest and prepare, having played out their European fixture on Tuesday, drawing 3-3 with Spanish side Sevilla. The Italian notes that the powers that be have “created problems for one team” for the second time in six weeks, but is hopeful things will change in future.
“We have to work during the flight to prepare for the game against Liverpool,” Conte said. “They will train as normal on Friday before flying to Merseyside in the afternoon.
“To have only one day to rest and prepare for such a big game is not easy. I think also it’s not right. The English league is very tough. There are six top teams who try to fight for the title. To create, for the second time in only one and a half months, problems for one team is not right. Someone has to help us to underline this strange situation.”
With qualification out of the way, Chelsea still have one game left to play in the group stage against Atletico Madrid, and in less than two weeks’ time. Prior to that, they will have to battle Liverpool, Swansea, and Newcastle in Premier League competition.
Things won’t get any easier after that either, with Conte and his men poised to play a whopping 11 matches between now and the end of the year. But with the team having found some form in recent weeks, Blues fans can approach the festive period with reasonable confidence in the manager and his squad.
[Featured Image by Francois Nel/Getty Images]