Chelsea travel to Camp Nou having rescued a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last time out and Conte acknowledges his team will be facing one of the world’s best sides.
On the face of it, a home match against an 18th-place side, that has lost its last three league games and has collected just two points from the last 18 available should be a fairly straightforward task for the reigning English champions.
Asked to explain what happened, the former Juventus boss added: “On Friday it was very cold and after the training session he passed out briefly in the dressing room”. The Frenchman returned to the heart of the home midfield and was as busy as ever, setting the high tempo that Chelsea needed.
With the Champions League last-16 tie finely posed at 1-1 after the first leg, Conte knows his players must improve to have any hope of progressing at the expense of Lionel Messi and company.
The Eagles defeated Chelsea in the match at Selhurst Park earlier in the season.
Lukaku took his tally for the season to 23 in Monday’s remarkable 3-2 comeback win at Crystal Palace, but believes he offers far more than goals to Mourinho and the team.
He showed flashes of brilliance, but it was Willian who had a more influential role on the result, scoring the first after 25 minutes.
It was 2-0 seven minutes later with a goal that was as elegant in its creation as it was farcical in its final moments. It began with Cesc Fàbregas spinning a pass from deep inside his own half to release Marcos Alonso down the left. Hazard, Giroud, and Willian to score.
When Davide Zappacosta’s strike bounced off of Martin Kelly, back onto goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, then again against Kelly and into the back of the net, a comical reminder was provided of why some Crystal Palace supporters consider the pair liabilities.
Crystal Palace have a habit of getting themselves up for games with Chelsea.
His set-pieces were also excellent and his varied threat was just too much for Roy Hodgson’s side to handle at Stamford Bridge. A double from Olivier Giroud and the opener from Andreas Christensen. An opportunist goal, his 13th of the campaign, combined with an effervescent display and a willingness to tackle back made this a man-of-the-match performance for the Brazil global. “The Premier League is such a hard competition, so it is uncommon to see a team dominate for two or three years in a row”.
Substitutes: Alvaro Morata (for Giroud, 72mins) 5, Pedro (for Fabregas, 88mins) 5, Tiemoue Bakayoko (for Hazard, 88mins) 5. Palace took advantage. First Sørloth had a goal chalked off for a foul.