Good morning and welcome to Thursday. The end of the week is in sight, and we can start looking forward to the weekend. The weekend means days off and plenty of time for me to talk about football, so I look forward to it.
Chelsea went out of the Champions League last night, as they were beaten 3-0 by Barcelona at the Nou Camp. A Lionel Messi double, along with a goal from Ousmane Dembele was enough to see Chelsea bow out. Chelsea will be disappointed, but I’m sure they were prepared for defeat against one of Europe’s best teams. I didn’t see a minute of the game, but from what I have read, Chelsea had their chances in the game. They couldn’t manage to get anything from the game in the end, but now they need to crack on and try to get back into the Premier League’s top four and qualify for the Champions League again next season. They’re still in the FA Cup as well, so it’s not the end of their season by any stretch.
Antonio Conte praised Lionel Messi after the game, and said:
A fantastic player moved the final result, moved the qualification over the two legs.
I have to praise the commitment of my players, and be proud because they gave everything. But Messi made the difference and, when you have the opportunity to make a great compliment to Messi, it’s right to praise a super, super, super top player. A player who is able to score 60 goals in every season. Not only for one season. We are talking about an extraordinary player, the best in the world.
He’s a player who can change the final result for any team he is playing in. But he started to play with Barcelona and, for sure, he will finish his career in Barcelona. Many teams can hope to have him in their team, but it won’t be possible. This is a great story for Barcelona and Messi. This type of player is born once every 50 years. We are talking about one single player with this capacity, with this ability, with these skills. He’s fantastic.
Speaking about the game, Conte added: “They scored three times but I think we didn’t deserve this type of result. We were a bit unlucky because we created many chances to score. I think there was a penalty on Marcos Alonso [after a challenge from Gerard Piqué] at the start of the second half and, if you make it 2-1, you can put a bit of pressure on Barcelona. At the end, I repeat: I must be pleased with the commitment of my players. I saw great work from my players.”
Chelsea need to ensure their confidence hasn’t taken too big of a hit, as they have to travel to Leicester on Sunday for an FA Cup quarter final tie.
Yesterday, Southampton announced that Mark Hughes has taken over as their new manager. The Welshman has been given a contract which runs until he end of the season. He has brought Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki with him, who will be the club’s assistant manager and assistant first team coach.
Mark Hughes told Southampton’s official website:
It’s a challenge I’m excited by. It’s a great opportunity to come back to a club I know well, and a club I’ve got real affinity with, and I couldn’t turn that down.
I bring experience of the Premier League. I understand what it takes in this league to win games. But first and foremost I think it’s about coming in and maybe being that different voice, that different message from myself and the staff, that will enable the players to recognise and focus on what needs to be done in this key period of the season.
The objective clearly is to remain in the league and make sure we’re a Premier League club next year. That’s where this club needs to be, that’s where it should be, and that’s our intention to make sure it remains there.
I think this is a good appointment, if I’m honest. Maybe Southampton fans aren’t too happy with the appointment, but he’s a man with Premier League experience who did a good job with Stoke until this season, when he was sacked. I think he was the best option for Southampton as they attempt to stay in the Premier League. They’re just one point clear of the relegation zone, and they’ll be hoping Hughes can have an immediate impact. He’s only there until the end of the season anyway, so if he an keep them up, the Saints can look at bringing somebody else in who might be a better fit for the long-term. He will take charge of his first game on Sunday, as the Saints travel to Wigan for an FA Cup quarter final tie.
That’s it from me for now, sorry it’s a short one. I wrote a preview of Arsenal vs AC Milan this morning, so that’s why I didn’t have time to do more. I’ll be back in the morning with more, so drop back in for that. As always, news throughout the day will be on Twitter. Have a good Thursday.