Soccer

Antonio Conte bemused by Chelsea's schedule, calls it 'difficult' to understand

Antonio Conte is pleased Chelsea are through to the FA Cup final, but says there's no time to dwell on the semifinal win against Tottenham. After playing on Saturday, the Blues have a Premier League date against Southampton on the docket on Tuesday. That quick turnaround has Conte scratching his head.

"In this situation, it is not easy to understand," he said, via TeamTalk. "You have to play one day less against Southampton that rests for 10 days." Further compounding his frustrations, Tottenham, who are chasing Chelsea in the Premier League title race, don't play again until Wednesday.

Instead, Tottenham has to play on Wednesday one day more to rest against Crystal Palace that didnt play today, they have to play tomorrow," he said.

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It is very difficult for me to understand this dynamic because in this part of the season you must try to have balance, to understand the situation, and to try to put both teams in the same condition to fight and then to do their best.

Adding that he and his side had to accept the fixture scheduling, Conte said having to balance both the FA Cup and Premier League title chases factored into the decision not to start Diego Costa and Eden Hazard. The star pair came on in 61st minute, with the Belgian popping up with the game-winning goal and anassist. He admitted he would have liked to start but understood his manager's dilemma.

"When you play football you want to play every game," Hazard said, via the Associated Press, "but he made a great choice."

Tottenham are four points behind the Blues with six matches apiece left to play. Complaints about fixture congestion have been frequent, especially from high-profile managers in the Premier League, but there's seemingly been little done to assuage those concerns. The last time the FA addressed the issue, talks between both parties broke down.

For the time being, it looks like Conte will just have to accept the realities of playing the busy English schedule. Oh, and don't look now, but with a Champions League spot all but locked up, the Blues will have a lot more on their plate next season.

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