Antonio Conte determined to "change old habits" to be competitive
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 07: Antonio Conte, manager of Tottenham Hotspur, during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Tottenham Hotspur and Olympique Marseille at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 07, 2022 in London, England.

Antonio Conte believes his side must "change old habits" if they want to be competitive this season. The Italian hinted "all players have to accept that rotation is part of this aspect" if they want to challenge for major honours. 

Tottenham Hotspur continue their Champions League campaign on Tuesday evening. The Lilywhites travel to Lisbon to face Portuguese giants Sporting CP

Antonio Conte's side have had a weeks break since their 2-0 win against Marseille, after all Premier League matches were postponed in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

Both sides will be aiming to continue their 100% win rate in Europe this season. The Portuguese side dismantled Frankfurt 3-0 last Wednesday, and will be hoping to cause an upset against the North London side. 

  • The importance of Rotation

With the World Cup in Qatar creating a congested season, it is vital teams have strong depth to be able to compete. In the summer, Spurs signed Richarlison to help bolster their attack. 

Therefore, Conte believes he must rotate his front three to be able to compete this season.

He said: "I think when you try to build something important, with ambition and try to be competitive and win, you have to change old habits, otherwise you stay in balance and you don't want to have ambition."

"For this reason all the players have to accept that rotation is part of this aspect. We have four players [up front] and it's very difficult right now to drop one. I have to take the best decision, sometimes for the players. Sometimes it's better to come in for 20-30 minutes for them."

"I'm here to change the habit. The habit was that the players were used to playing all the time. Big clubs have a big squad. At the moment we don't have a big squad but we have just started this process."

  • Team News

The postponement against Manchester City gave the Spurs squad a much-needed break in between two vital European matches. Therefore, the Italian's plans have changed in recent days.

He said: "Only Lucas Moura is still out. His recovery is going well but I think we'll see him after the international break. The others are all available."

"I have the possibility to pick three important players and know I have a player on the bench ready to come on and help us. Against Marseille it was 0-0 and I decided to put Dejan Kulusevski on to the pitch and also to keep the three strikers on to be attacking."

"The postponed game allows me to make a different decision. Against Man City I would have played with certain players but now I change things in my mind."

  • Paying respects to the Queen

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II shocked the world on Thursday. It led to all Premier League matches being postponed last weekend, whilst a further three will not take place this coming weekend. 

Conte, who has lived in England during his time with Chelsea and Spurs, paid his respects at Buckingham Palace on Friday.

He said: "Unfortunately the Queen has died. We were all sad because we were talking about a person whose service for this country was outstanding. At the moment there is big sadness in the country for this. I am living this. On Friday I went to Buckingham Palace because I'm a normal person and I want to live this situation. I want to give condolences from me and all of my players to the Royal family."

"We are talking about a situation that we find in history in the future. To be here in this moment it's a sad moment but at the same time it's a special moment."

"We're talking about the death of the Queen, she was 96 and honestly for me it was very difficult to believe she was dead. In your head you think the Queen is immortal. I keep this in my heart and my mind for the rest of my life."

Eric Dier sat alongside the Italian to preview this Champions League clash. The Englishman featured 32 times for Sporting CP, (transfermarkt) and is looking forward to returning. 

He said: "Yes of course, I always follow Sporting. It went through some difficult times but it's been able to overcome that. I'm very happy to see Sporting in the Champions League."

Despite looking forward to returning, the defender believes it will be a tough game in Lisbon. Marcus Edwards is a key player for Sporting CP, and Dier is wary of the former Lilywhites youngster.

Eric said: 

"It will be a difficult game for us, a very good side, a very strong team. It's a good opportunity for us to get a good position in the group. It's very special for me to be here. I was here for a long time."

"He's [Edwards] is a very talented player. He's done extremely well since he arrived and he's someone we'll have to watch out for. Leaving the situation at Tottenham and coming to a new country, I think he can be very proud of himself."

"He's very talented and strong and yes it would be great if he could make it to the national team. If he keeps evolving like that I'm sure he could make it to the national team."

Sporting CP host Tottenham Hotspur at the Estádio José Alvalade. The match kicks off at 5:45 PM BST as both sides aim to go top of the group.

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