Chelsea's Antonio Conte: History counts for nothing against Barcelona
Antonio Conte said Chelsea must have a "positive" reaction to drawing Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 but warned that the Blues' past successes against the Catalan giants will count for nothing this time around.
Chelsea overcame Barcelona the last time they faced off in the 2011-12 Champions League semifinal, with Ramires and Fernando Torres scoring as the 10-man Blues came from 2-0 down to secure a remarkable 2-2 draw at Camp Nou and progress 3-2 on aggregate.
Lionel Messi has also failed to score against Chelsea in his career despite registering 29 shots against them, his worst record against any club, but Conte said history will not be a factor when the two clubs do battle again in February.
"It's the draw and our reaction must be positive," Conte said. "As you know very well, when you are in this stage, you must be ready to face every team. In this case, we must be ready for Barcelona. The past is the past. Now is the present and it is another story."
Asked if having the second leg at Camp Nou makes Chelsea's task harder, Conte replied: "I think that we must be ready to play at home and away. It is impossible to see an advantage.
"When you play Barcelona you must give 120 percent home and away if you want to hope to go to the next round."
Between now and February the priority for Chelsea will be to improve their league form.
Conte has already conceded that four defeats in their first 16 matches has made it "impossible" for Chelsea to defend their title and said finishing in the top four this season will be no easy task.
"We have to try to stay up and fight for a Champions League place," Conte added. "When it will be the moment to play Barcelona then we will think about that. We have to be very realistic that this league is very dangerous. We have to go game by game and play with 100 percent [effort]."
Next up for Chelsea is a trip to take on Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night, and Conte said he will have to rotate his team again after revealing that his players were tired after Saturday's 1-0 defeat against West Ham.
"We worked only today [Monday] with the players that played against West Ham," Conte said. "When you have to play after two days you have to be ready and smart to prepare the game quickly and try to find the best solution for the team.
"Especially because a lot of players are playing a lot of games. It means some are a bit tired and I have to find the best solution and the right balance. It is important to find a solution for the moment and not look too far. In this case it is right to make a rotation."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.