The Big Match

Football: Chelsea counting on Liverpool's fatigue

Chelsea's Pedro in action during an English Premier League match against Swansea City on April 25, 2018.
Chelsea's Pedro in action during an English Premier League match against Swansea City on April 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

Manager Conte wants his team to capitalise on 'good opportunity' and keep their top-4 hopes alive

LONDON • Liverpool are riding the crest of a wave, but Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his side can capitalise on any fatigue the Reds may suffer from after their Champions League semi-final triumph over Roma on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's men booked their place in the final on May 26 against holders Real Madrid despite losing 2-4 to Roma in the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico, and forward Sadio Mane feels they can "beat any team in the world".

"We are Liverpool - we are strong and we can beat any team in the world. We have the players. We can score goals, we have shown that and there is nothing to be afraid of for us," said the Senegalese.

And team-mate Dejan Lovren reckons Klopp has already forged a winning mentality at the club.

"He has changed many things in the club, not just the players but things around the club - people, he has changed the mentality, how we think," the Croatia defender told reporters.

"He has given the club pride back. Everyone should be proud that we have a manager like him."

NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT

We are Liverpool - we are strong and we can beat any team in the world. We have the players. We can score goals, we have shown that and there is nothing to be afraid of for us.

SADIO MANE , Liverpool forward, on his team's confidence level.

NOTHING BUT A WIN

This could be a good opportunity for us... Liverpool are a good team. It won't be easy but, if we want to keep alive the hope, we have to try to win, to get three points on Sunday.

ANTONIO CONTE , Chelsea manager, on tomorrow's big clash against Liverpool.

While those comments will offer little comfort to Conte, the Italian knows his side will have to bring the opposition back down to earth in their pursuit of a Champions League spot for next season.

Chelsea are six points behind third-placed Liverpool albeit with a game in hand heading into tomorrow's clash at Stamford Bridge and Conte is aware of the golden opportunity to claw their way back into the top-four mix.

"This could be a good opportunity for us," he said at his pre-match press conference yesterday.

"As I said a lot of times in the last three games, if we want to keep the hope alive, we have to win. We have to get three points.

"Liverpool are a good team. It won't be easy but, if we want to keep alive the hope, we have to try to win, to get three points on Sunday."

Tottenham sit fourth, five points clear of Chelsea, but with Spurs still to play games against West Brom, Newcastle and Leicester, it is Liverpool in Conte's sights.

The Merseysiders could be denied Champions League football next season by a combination of finishing outside the top four and losing to Real in the final.

If Conte's deposed champions win their remaining three fixtures they will, at worst, finish level on points with Klopp's team, although Liverpool's far superior goal difference means just a point tomorrow or victory against Brighton at home on the final day of the season should suffice.

Meanwhile Conte, who expects to have a fully fit squad for the crucial game, refused to comment about unsettled Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

"I don't like to talk about players of other teams," he said.

"Our focus is to finish in the best possible way...The situation is not in our hands. But we have to try and start with three points against Liverpool."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Chelsea counting on Liverpool's fatigue'. Print Edition | Subscribe