Tottenham facing prospect of ‘totally different world’ without Antonio Conte for crunch Champions League clash

Tottenham facing prospect of ‘totally different world’ without Antonio Conte for crunch Champions League clash

Tottenham are facing "a totally different world" without head coach Antonio Conte on the touchline for Tuesday’s crunch Champions League game in Marseille, according to the Italian’s assistant Cristian Stellini.

Conte will watch his side’s must-not-lose clash from the stands of the Stade Velodrome after being sent off for entering the field of play in the aftermath of Harry Kane’s disallowed goal in stoppage-time in last week’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Lisbon.

Spurs need a draw in a south of France to guarantee a place in the knockouts and they will definitely drop into the Europa League if they lose.

Conte will not be allowed to speak to his players or staff between stepping off the team coach on arrival at the stadium and 15 minutes after the final whistle.

He is set to watch from the stands next to his brother Gianluca, who will be allowed to communicate with Stellini and first-team coach Ryan Mason in the dugout.

Due to his ban Conte was not required to do his pre-match press conference, with Stellini filling in, alongside midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Stellini said: "It changes a lot. The presence of a coach like Conte, both before the game and the week leading up to it and during the match, is just indispensable. Especially in a tough match like this where it’s going to be intense until the final whistle.

"It’s a change that’s difficult but we have to prepare ourselves altogether before the match.

"It’s a totally different world. Normally the days before the game, Antonio will do all his preparation himself, alone, but now, we have to do this altogether so it changes everything. We have to work on the strategy and this can become complex.

“However, we’ve already gone through this together in our time at Inter [Milan] so we know what to do when he’s not there.

“Luckily, I’m not there on my own. We’ve got the whole staff, such as Ryan Mason, alongside me so that makes me feel better.

"He will sit next to Gianluca," Stellini added. "He will be here at the stadium. He will work with us until we arrive here. Then we have to stop the communication and he will stay close to Gianluca but we are preparing well the game and strategies. Antonio prepared like always the game.

"Our strategies are clear in every game and we have to play our match the best. Everyone has to do something more to fill the gap.

“We are not allowed to speak to Antonio at half-time. [Before the game] he will stay on the coach with the players. Normally we will use two different coaches. Then we go our separate way.

"We will drive our way and we will go in the dressing room and Antonio will go in another seat. After the game, after 15 minutes, we are allowed to speak again.

"When Antonio is on the touchline, he lives with passion every game but probably he struggles more when he stays in the crowd and so it explains how Antonio lives his job. He’s very passionate and if he cannot communicate with us he struggles a lot."

Hojbjerg says the players must cope with Conte’s absence from the touchline.

Marching orders: Antonio Conte was sent off against Sporting Lisbon (REUTERS)
Marching orders: Antonio Conte was sent off against Sporting Lisbon (REUTERS)

"He is a person and coach who lives the game with great passion, with his heart and we are feeling this in a good way," Hojbjerg said.

"We have to make sure that we are well prepared, which we are. After we have to go to be successful together. The fact is that he will not be there on the sideline. We have to deal with that.

"Everyone is well aware, the staff is well prepared and we all know that we have to help each other. For me it is not a difficult situation, it is maybe a different situation, but we know what to do, we are well aware of the situation and as well the ambition. I understand your question of course but the focus is on the pitch and what we have to do, what we are preparing. After that we will do the best we can do.

"First of all of course your head coach is a massive part of a team. Luckily he has a very good staff and players that are well aware of what he expects from them.

"We will all try our best to fill the role. In the end no one can fill his role but we will do our best to be together and make sure that we can get through this together, because we have to get through this together and we will do it."