March 3, 2018 / 5:48 AM / 17 days ago

Soccer: Guardiola heaps praise on 'master' tactician Conte

LONDON (Reuters) - Antonio Conte is a “master” tactician and the Chelsea manager has already changed the way clubs play in the Premier League, according to the Italian’s Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United vs Chelsea - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 25, 2018 Chelsea manager Antonio Conte REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Conte won the Premier League title in his debut season in England last year but the London outfit are currently struggling down in fifth place, 22 points behind runaway leaders City.

Chelsea are also two points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a top-four finish that will ensure qualification for next season’s Champions League.

“I think Conte is going to leave something to English football. I am sure of that,” Guardiola told reporters as his side prepare to heap more misery on the champions in Sunday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola’s side will go into the match on the back of a 3-0 league victory over Arsenal on Thursday, while Chelsea lost their last league fixture 2-1 to Manchester United at Old Trafford last Sunday.

Conte, who led Italy to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals before joining Chelsea later that year, has been the subject of persistent British media reports suggesting he will leave the club after criticising their transfer policy this season.

Guardiola, however, feels the former Juventus boss has already left his mark on English football.

“What Antonio has done here in the Premier League, maybe the people don’t realise,” the former Barcelona boss said.

“He introduced another way to attack with five at the back, another system. A lot of teams, even Arsenal, had to do a lot of imitating to do that.

“Tactically, he is a master. He did it amazingly with the national team with Italy and when he went to Turin.”

Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien

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