Mauricio Pochettino has opened up on his strong relationship with Antonio Conte, revealing the Chelsea boss paid a visit to Tottenham when he was still the manager of the Italian national team. The Argentine respects has plenty of respect for his rival but hopes Spurs upset the Blues on Saturday (22 April) when the sides face off in an all-London FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
"When you watch Conte on the sidelines you can see his temperament and character. He transmits that to his team. I have great respect for Conte. When he was the Italian national team manager he came to visit me to Tottenham. We spoke for five or six hours about football," Pochettino told Cadena Ser ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. "We have had a very good relationship since. Now we are fighting in a semi-final and for the Premier League.
"We have played against them twice this season. We lost 2-1 at Chelsea earlier this season and then in January we won [2-0] at White Hart Lane. It's a team that has great individual talent. It's a team that is athletic because Conte already showed at Juventus that he wants his teams to be dynamic, physical and aggressive."
The Tottenham boss admitted that Chelsea may have an advantage in reaching the FA Cup final due to their players' experience, Yet, he is convinced that Spurs' desire to win a trophy this season can see them book a place in the next round.
"We have reached the last stretch of the competition and we are still involved in two competitions, the FA Cup and the Premier League. I'm happy because we have a great challenge ahead of us. Saturday's semi-final is against one of the most in-form teams in Europe and we are also fighting for [the Premier League], four points adrift after Chelsea's defeat at Manchester United. This opens the door for us to win a title. We know it's going to be very tough and complicated. It's always difficult to win titles. We will start by trying to reach the [FA Cup] final," he said.
"The game is going to be a mental test, with Chelsea going into the game after a defeat and us on the back of a win. Maybe they have a slight advantage because they have players with more experience in playing in this type of game but our desire and hunger to win something this season could level the tie."
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