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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte targets both cup success and European qualification

Their last chance of silverware this season is the FA Cup.

Antonio Conte has told Chelsea to target lifting the FA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League before the season’s end.

The Blues exited the Champions League at Barcelona on Wednesday and their final remaining trophy chance this term is the FA Cup, which resumes with Sunday’s quarter-final at Leicester.

Chelsea are also fifth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with eight games remaining.

Barcelona v Chelsea – UEFA Champions League – Round of Sixteen – Second Leg – Camp Nou

Spurs are their next Premier League opponents on April 1 in a match crucial to Chelsea’s hopes of a top-four finish and qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next term.

“We have to try to do both,” Conte said.

“To try to reach the semi-final in the FA Cup it won’t be easy. Leicester is a good team. In the last game we played at home we suffered against them (drawing 0-0).

“Then to try to do our best also in the league, to find a place in the Champions League. It won’t be easy.”

Chelsea v Arsenal – Carabao Cup – Semi Final – First Leg – Stamford Bridge

Conte has rotated his options in previous FA Cup rounds, but will field his first-choice line-up against the Foxes.

“Now we are not playing every three days,” the Italian added.

“We played Barcelona, but we’ve had whole weeks to recover and rest. For this reason I’ll pick the best solution for Sunday’s game.”

England defender Gary Cahill and Spain striker Alvaro Morata have found themselves out of the team of late and were left out of their respective national teams for this month’s friendlies, placing their World Cup hopes in jeopardy.

Former Italy boss Conte said: “I think that this question is for the coach of the national team, not for me.

“My only worry is to try to have the players in the best form for Chelsea. Then there is a national team coach to make the best decision for the country.”

Manchester United and Spurs are also out of the Champions League, meaning the FA Cup represents their final chance of silverware this season, too.

“To win a trophy in England is always very tough,” Conte added.

“Before playing the final you have to face strong teams. It’s normal.

“This competition there is United, Tottenham, but also other teams.

“They want to go to the next round to try to write the history of this competition.”

Press Association

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