London, United Kingdom | AFP | Antonio Conte believes Chelsea are ready for a season-defining few weeks after Willian starred with two goals to blow away Hull City 4-0 to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals on Friday.
Just four days before facing Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, Conte named a much-changed side with Thibaut Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard not even included in the Italian’s squad.
That was smooth ?
Chelsea are into the next round of the #FACup after a classy win over Hull.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 16, 2018
But they still had too much quality for the Championship strugglers as two great strikes from Willian added to goals from Pedro Rodriguez and Olivier Giroud’s first for Chelsea put the hosts 4-0 up by half-time.
Conte made seven changes in all from the side that beat West Brom 3-0 on Monday to ease the mounting pressure on his job after damaging defeats by Bournemouth and Watford.
Once again the Chelsea support showed their backing for the former Juventus boss, but more challenging tests lie ahead in their bid for Champions League glory, and a place back in the competition next year via the top four of the Premier League should they fall short.
Barca’s visit to the Bridge on Tuesday is followed by consecutive trips to Manchester United and Manchester City on league duty before the return leg at the Camp Nou on March 14.
“We lost two games at the end of a busy period. Now we have the right confidence again,” said Conte.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 16, 2018
“But in the next two weeks we have to play massive games and we must be strong – Barcelona, United and City. We are ready.”
Willian did no harm to his case to start against the Catalans with a stunning all-round display capped by his two goals.
“For sure, his performance was impressive,” added Conte.
“I hope to see always this type of performance because, when Willy plays in this way, it is a great joy for me, the team, the club and our fans.”