Football

Published on July 3rd, 2017 | by Vieri Capretta

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Why the real challenge for Conte’s Chelsea has only just begun

Chelsea may have won the Premier League title, but an awful lot needs to change if Antonio Conte’s men are to make a mark in Europe next season

Winning the Premier League in the way Antonio Conte managed it last season means the Italian coach is one made for impressing. Difficult tasks are his favourite ones. Next year, as well as trying to retain the Premier League title, Conte will want to make a serious challenge for the Champions League. Another extremely difficult objective that an awful lot of top-flight clubs in Europe are gunning for too.

Sure, the Blues in 2012 were by no means favourites, and lifting the Champions League trophy at the Allianz Arena against the hosts, Bayern Munich, was seen as some sort of miracle. So, if Roberto Di Matteo managed to do it, then Conte could obviously manage the same feat eight years later. But the truth is, miracles aside, that Roman Abramovich will need to open his wallet and give Conte what he wants in order to build a Champions League-winning squad.

Firstly, the Blues need more depth across the board, as two weekly games are twice as many as one – to put it simply. More quality players are needed, giving the chance to rotate and give the starting eleven a break when needed. Conte essentially played with the same 13 players for the whole season, with Cesc Fabregas and Pedro being the two extra starters.

The coach will need to be able to pick from a larger pool of footballers. Not selling any of the stars – leaving the Diego Costa affair aside – is the first step. Abramovich should have the power to say no to any offer. Adding to the current squad, rather than rebuilding, is key to creating a Champions League-challenging team.

Chelsea will need the experience of those who know what this competition means. A player like Real Madrid striker, Alvaro Morata, up front could be key, as well as the Juventus pair of Alex Sandro on the left wing or Leonardo Bonucci in the middle. The number nine position will be key, seeing as Costa is on his way out: Conte will need to replace the strength and goalscoring ability of the Brazilian-born Spaniard, adding Champions League experience.

Only David Luiz is left from the 2012 winning side – after a stint at PSG of course – and Conte struggled with Juventus in the Champions League in his previous club gig, so it will be a special challenge for the coach himself. This is why Chelsea will need to be clinical in the transfer window and catch the best options. So far, the club has been slow to make moves compared to the speedy signings by Manchester City and this has clearly been a source of frustration to the club’s demanding Italian coach.

Conte himself will need to work on the team’s tactics in order to best approach European competition. The possibility of switching from the starting 3-4-3 and have a system to adapt to different opponents is crucial. During the summer, Conte will have to work on other formations and create different options for the upcoming season.

Putting all these ingredients together could produce a Chelsea side capable of battling to the semifinals of the Champions League, and returning to the elite of European football. Keeping all the best players, adding depth and quality to the team, bringing in experienced players and Conte’s ability to change tactics will all be crucial factors for the next twelve months for the Blues.

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About the Author

mm

A freelance journalist and broadcaster focusing on European soccer and currently featuring on Uefa.com, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca in English and more.



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