Antonio Conte Began Liverpool Preparation on Flight Home from Qarabag

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Having safely wrapped up a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout round with a 4-0 thrashing of Qarabag FK, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte commenced his team’s preparations for Liverpool on the flight home. The Blues destroyed the Azerbaijani side, reduced to playing with ten men, at their Olympic home stadium in Baku tonight.

On aggregate, Chelsea bested this specific foe 10-0 in Group C play, and thus their final group stage game won’t mean much as they are now on their way to the round of 16. Onward and upward, but between now and then Antonio Conte and his side head to Liverpool for what is arguably the weekend’s biggest fixture.

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Match prep began on the flight home to London from Baku. Liverpool have an advantage of having played a night earlier and thus an extra day of rest. Although Eden Hazard doesn’t see it that way, as he points out how many starters and key players on Chelsea were able to get rest from their midweek UCL clash.

“For sure we have to work during the flight to prepare for Liverpool. With my staff we started also before, not to arrive (unprepared) at the last moment,” Conte said.

“To have only one day to rest and prepare is not simple or easy. It is not right. Now I think after tonight we must be pleased that we reached our first target to go through to the next round, to avoid the Atletico game being decisive for us. It will be a good chance to have another rotation with the players.”

“It is very positive for us in a game that I knew very well wouldn’t be easy. Atletico drew twice and Roma struggled, so we faced a really good team.”

Yes, the festive period and the fixture congestion that accompanies it are always grist for the mill of Premier League managers.

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Chelsea kicks off against Liverpool at Anfield at 5:30 PM local Saturday. The Reds have their own issues, having squandered a 3-0 lead at Sevilla, only to manage a 3-3 draw in the end. Manager Jurgen Klopp said his team stopped playing football in the second half while left back Alberto Moreno said they came out half asleep in the second half.

Antonio Conte said he watched the Liverpool draw.

“In the first half they played a really good game, but football is strange. What happened in the first half is difficult to explain. They had chances to score other goals, but they were unlucky,” he said.

“The result is not important. For us, it is important to prepare in only one session. We know the qualities of Liverpool.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

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