Champions League must be 'our house' next season, says Chelsea's Antonio Conte

The Italian also said he greatly misses the competition

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The lack of European football may be a massive factor in how far Chelsea are ahead of the rest of the Premier League, but Antonio Conte has admitted it hurts to not be in the Champions League, a competition he greatly misses and that his club must make ‘their house’. The Italian said he went to Manchester City’s recent 5-3 win over Monaco at the Etihad, to “breathe in” the atmosphere, emboldening his desire to get his team back to that stage.

Conte won the Champions League once as a player with Juventus in 1996, as part of a squad that then finished runners-up the next two successive years, and then played in the 2003 final that the side lost to Serie A rivals AC Milan on penalties. He has been involved in two campaigns as a manager with Juventus, but has so far only got as far as the quarter-finals.

Asked whether he is missing the Champions League, Conte said: “Yes, yes. For me and my players, yes. The Champions League, I think, must be an appointment for us every year. It must be our house, the Champions League. For this reason, we are putting our strength into playing in the Champions League next season. It's a great competition for every single player, club and manager, and we want to stay there and try to fight to win it.”

It was then put to Conte whether it hurts to watch other big games in the competition Chelsea are not involved in.

“Yes, I watched the Manchester City game against Monaco live, because I wanted to breathe it in, the right atmosphere, and feel this type of game. In the future, also, I hope to sit and watch games live… I saw a great game, a great game. To see eight goals is not simple, and not usual to find this.”

“We started our season trying to fight until the end to win the title, and to try and fight until the end to be in the right position to go into next season's Champions League. This was our target. Our target. But, for sure, it wasn't easy to start the season and know that six strong teams fight for the title and the Champions League. Don't forget, in this six teams, two won't play in the Champions League next season. They have to go into the Europa League, which is a bit different to the Champions League. But now this league is very, very difficult. To win the title and also find a place to play the Champions League is not easy.”