(Reuters) - Chelsea must seal progression to the Champions League knockout stages with a crucial win over Qarabag on Wednesday to help ease the pressure during a congested fixture schedule, manager Antonio Conte has said.
Premier League champions Chelsea are second in their Champions League group and need one win to seal their spot in the knockout stages with two group fixtures remaining.
Conte has urged his side to get the job done in Azerbaijan and avoid the tension of battling for progression during a busy schedule that sees the London outfit play 11 matches, after Wednesday’s fixture, before the end of the year.
“We have to play the most important game of the season from the start until now,” Conte told reporters.
“If we are able to win against Qarabag, we can go through to the next round of the Champions League and this is very important because this period from now until January is very busy, so it is very important to win the game.
“It won’t be easy because in the last two games they drew twice against Atletico Madrid... it is very important to be focused, to work and to try to win the game.”
Chelsea are nine points behind leaders Manchester City in third position and travel to fifth-placed Liverpool in the league on Saturday.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien