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Palace defeat starts Conte thinking about when he and Juventus blew huge Serie A lead

Date Posted,April 4, 2017

Last week, they looked like ­certainties. Now there could be a race on.

And for Antonio Conte, it is all ­worryingly familiar.

As he watched Match Of The Day on Saturday night, picking through the wreckage of that shock defeat to ­Crystal Palace, the Chelsea manager looked for ways to ensure there would be no repeat of one of his worst days in football.

It came in the 1999-2000 Serie A season.

Conte was then a player at Juventus, who had led Lazio by nine points going into late March.

Lazio, then managed by some bloke named Sven Goran Eriksson, kept fighting and clinched the title on the final day — Conte ­famously claimed later not to have slept for nearly a week ­afterwards.

Was Saturday just a tiny wobble from Chelsea or the start of a collapse? (Photo: Reuters)

“Yes, it’s true,” he said on Tuesday, ahead of their midweek home game against Manchester City.

“But these experiences are very important. For this reason, I try to keep the concentration from the start until the end during the game.

“Football is wonderful for this ­reason. Anything can happen.

“I lost this title against Lazio but, two years later, we won the title against Inter in the last game. If Inter had won, they’d have won the title, but they lost and we beat Udinese and won it instead.

“Football gives a lot of joy, but sometimes, yes, it’s not ­simple.”

Conte – a three-time title winner as Juventus boss – was more at ease than the bewildered figure he cut at Stamford Bridge after ­Saturday’s shock defeat.

Conte looked stunned as relegation candidates Palace won at Stamford Bridge (Photo: AFP/Getty)

But he conceded the final few furlongs of his first Premier League title race will be far tougher than the merry dance he led his Serie A title rivals between 2012 and 2014.

“In my first season at Juventus, we were ­behind but overcame Milan and won the title late on,” he said. “That was a great season because we started as underdogs.

“In the second and third ­seasons, Juventus showed themselves to be stronger than the others.

“The competition wasn’t so tough, like in England. Here, in every game, you must think that anything can happen, if you don’t face the game in the right way. But not only this – against ­Crystal ­Palace, we played a good game but we still lost.

“This is the great difference ­between England and Italy. In Italy, it’s easier to manage this situation.”

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