Football

Conte tells Blues to buck up

Conte warns of another 'bad season' if Chelsea don't improve

INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP

REAL MADRID 3

(Marcelo 19, 26, Diaz 37)

CHELSEA 2

(Eden Hazard 80, 90-pen)

New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte warned that his team face another "bad season" if they don't improve, especially defensively.

The Italian was speaking after a 3-2 defeat by Real Madrid in their International Champions Cup clash in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yesterday morning (Singapore time).

First-half goals from Marcelo (two) and Mariano Diaz set a Real side missing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos on course for a comfortable victory by the break.

Antonio Conte's men responded twice late on through Eden Hazard, but were unable to get an equaliser in front of a 105,826 crowd at the Michigan Stadium - the largest ever official attendance for a Chelsea match, according to the Blues.

"It was an unbelievable turnout and it was great for me to be a part of it and to be Chelsea captain on the day and lead the team out in such an atmosphere," John Terry told the club's official website.

His manager, though, wasn't in such good spirits.

Said Conte: "After this game, it's clear we have to always work together, with and without the ball.

"If we think we don't have to work without the ball... we risk repeating a bad season.

"Today I think we weren't a team in defensive situations.

"We were better with the ball but bad without it...

"My aim now is to become a team, inside and outside of the pitch.

"We must become a family. This is the key to switch from last season.

"If we don't understand this, it is not good."

While he highlighted the defence, Chelsea's attack is a source of intrigue ahead of their Premier League season-opener against West Ham United on Aug 16.

STRIKERS

The Blues have been linked to a host of strikers, including Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku, while Diego Costa's future seems uncertain with Atletico Madrid interested in bringing him back to the Vicente Calderon.

Conte admitted that he didn't know if the Spaniard would remain at Stamford Bridge.

He said: "I can say that today Costa is a Chelsea player. He didn't play in these games because of injury...

"But I can say only this. I speak only for today and, today, Costa is Chelsea's player.

"Tomorrow, if you ask me if Costa will remain with us, I don't know."

When quizzed about Lukaku, the Blues boss replied: "I do not want to speak about the players of other teams".

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, meanwhile, highlighted his desire to keep Morata.

He said: "He's a Real player.

"We are delighted to have him back, back to his original home. He will remain a Real player." - Wire Services.

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