Antonio Conte sends message to Chelsea squad after drawing Barcelona
Antonio Conte says Chelsea must embrace the challenge of being handed a daunting Champions League tie against Barcelona.
Chelsea were pitted with the leaders of LaLiga when the draw for the last 16 took place in Nyon on Monday.
“Our reaction must be positive,” said head coach Conte in a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League meeting with Huddersfield Town.
“As we know very well, when you are in this stage you must be ready to face every team. In this case we must be ready to face Barcelona.
“When you play Barcelona, you must put in 120 per cent at home and away if you want to hope to go to the next round.”
The two teams have met on five previous occasions in the Champions League knockout stages, but Conte added: “The past is the past. Now it’s the present, another story. It’s totally different.
“I think this type of game is a good chance for every player to show the right value. Every player has to play in the right way.”
Ahead of the first leg against Barca on February 20, the Italian is focused on ensuring Chelsea’s domestic form improves.
The reigning Premier League champions sit 14 points behind leaders Manchester City after suffering a fourth defeat of the top-flight season at West Ham on Saturday.
“I think our priority must be the league, must be to try to stay up and try to fight for a Champions League place. That must be our priority in this moment,” said Conte.
“Then when it will be the moment to play against Barcelona we will start to think of the game against Barcelona.
“We must be very realistic to understand that this league is very dangerous. We have to go game by game.”