Antonio Conte has taken a swipe at Liverpool by insisting they have been ‘lucky’ in their route to the Champions League final, ahead of Chelsea’s crucial meeting with the Reds on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s chargers will head to Stamford Bridge with a bounce in their step after overcoming Roma to set up a tantalising final against reigning champions Real Madrid, however Conte has credited ‘luck’ for European success whilst insisting only the best lift a league title.
The Blues boss secured the Premier League title in his debut season last year, whilst Klopp has yet to make Liverpool serious contenders. Yet, with the title wrapped up safely at the Etihad Stadium, Sunday’s affair has each clubs’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season balancing on a knife edge.
Anything but a win for Chelsea will all but see the Blues miss out on keeping their place amongst Europe’s top table, but on the differences between each competition Conte said, via the Mirror: “In the league, you have 38 games to show you deserve to win the league, to show you are the best during the season.
“In the Champions League, when you reach the last 16 or quarter-finals or semi-finals, one situation – positive or negative – can change your future in this competition.
“For this reason, I think that to win the Champions League you must be more lucky. You must be good to deserve it, but at the same time you must be lucky.
“One referee’s decision can settle your future totally. In the league, over 38 games, usually the team who deserves to win it wins it. Luck is always important in every competition, but when you have the possibility to play 38 games you can show you are the best.
“In a little tournament, like the FA Cup or Carabao or Champions League or Europa League, sometimes one decision can move your future. Sometimes you are lucky or you are unlucky.”
Conte, who has never won the Champions League as a manager, did however credit Liverpool for overcoming the teams put in their path as he gears up for a top four deciding clash, he said: “Liverpool deserve to play in this final. They eliminated Manchester City and deserve to play the final.
“Liverpool are a good team. It won’t be easy. But, if we want to keep the hope alive, we have to try to.”
Meanwhile, Klopp is intent on his team not resting on their laurels after progressing to the Champions League final as back-to-back top four finishes remains the priority.
The Liverpool boss said, via the Express: “The target is qualifying for the Champions League. That would be a big success.
“With the group we’ve got, with how we came to the final and playing with the biggest intensity in all parts, being ready again, then the injuries we had, it would be a massive success. It’s exactly what we want.”