Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said the Blues must take their time to get ready by playing well against lower-ranked teams before getting ready for big guns Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus on their return to the Champions League.
The Premier League champions have recovered from their opening day defeat against Burnley to record three consecutive victories ahead of Tuesday’s match against Qarabag at Stamford Bridge.
Despite having spent in excess of £150million on squad reinforcements over the summer, Conte insists Chelsea are not yet in a position to compete with fellow European heavyweights who have had the benefit of working together over a longer period.
‘For sure in the Champions League we are starting a path,’ he said.
‘Remember before winning a competition you need to work very hard and improve every year step by step, and arrive then to be ready for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich or Juventus.
‘You don’t create a big, strong team easily.
‘It’s a great competition and we must be proud to play it. We must understand we are starting a path.
‘I hope this path is short. We will try to be competitive in a short time and not wait three, four or five years.’
On Chelsea’s opposition, he added: ‘Qarabag are a good team. It’s the first time they’re playing this competition.