Azpilicueta gives Chelsea-linked Conte seal of approval


Cesar Azpilicueta was left impressed by Antonio Conte's high-tempo football as Italy and Spain played out a 1-1 draw in their international friendly on Thursday. 

Lorenzo Insigne gave Italy a 68th-minute lead at the Stadio Friuli in Udine but Aritz Aduriz equalised two minutes later to ensure the game ended level. 

Azpilicueta was making his 13th international appearance for Spain and praised Italy coach Conte, who has been heavily linked with the Chelsea job for next season. 

"Italy played a really high-intensity game," the Spain and Chelsea full-back said. "In the first half we were not able to get out of the pressure and to get control of the game. 

"We were in trouble because we had to defend and they have dangerous players. It was a difficult game.

"They play with three or five at the back and they were trying to press high in midfield. They were fresh but in the second half we put more people in midfield and they were not able to press so easily.

"If we are able to control the game it is by passing the ball. England were not able to get the ball from us. This was the difference.

"Against Italy we missed a lot of passes, sometimes easy passes when we should have been able to make a counter-attack. Against England, we played an amazing game and they were not able to get the ball."

Asked about Conte moving to join the defending Premier League champions, Azpilicueta said: "We don't know yet. We are focusing on the end of the season with Guus Hiddink as our manager.

"We will try to finish as high as possible to get close to the European places because what we have been doing until this moment is not enough for Chelsea. We will try to finish well and then the club will make a decision.

"Italy played well and it's down to the way they work. We can see they play a really intense game and tried to give us problems. I cannot say much more because he is the Italian national coach."