Conte praises players and defends team selection after Chelsea draw

Antonio Conte stood by his team selection after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield.

The Blues boss made six changes, leaving out the likes of Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud for the game at Stamford Bridge, where the home team dominated but were unable to find a winner after Marcos Alonso’s second-half equaliser.

The result meant Chelsea’s already faint hopes of snatching a Champions League place faded further.

But Conte described as “stupid” any suggestion his decision to rotate his squad was a major factor in the outcome and insisted he had “absolutely not” made changes because of the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester United.

“If you remember, I made rotations against Burnley and we won. If you make rotations it means that we play with players like Morata, Willian and Christensen who usually open every game.

“We are Chelsea. We have a big squad and you have players who can play this type of game and you must win.

“Against Burnley we won and the rotation was (said to be) good. Against Liverpool people said the starting 11 was not good and then we win and the starting 11 was (seen as) good.”

Chelsea’s slip up and Tottenham’s win against Newcastle means Conte’s side can now only secure a Champions League spot if they win at Newcastle on the final day of the season and Liverpool lose at home to Brighton.

“The situation wasn’t in our hands before this game and for sure the possibilities are less than before,” Conte admitted.

“At the same time, we have to do our best, like we did today. We played an intense game with desire to get the three points but we weren’t able to.

“It is very difficult to explain this draw because you have 82% possession, created many chances, conceded one goal on the counter-attack and draw the game.

“We must accept the result and staying fifth in the table. But it’s a pity, because I saw fantastic commitment from my players.

“They tried to get the three points but we were unable to score one more goal.”

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