Conte had hinted he would field some of the fringe members of his squad for the Blues’ Group C clash against the Azerbaijani champions at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, and stayed true to his word after making five changes to the team that beat Leicester in the league at the weekend.
Among those changes was Michy Batshuayi replacing in-form summer signing Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta being handed his first Chelsea start in place of wing-back Victor Moses.
Both changes reaped rewards with Batshuayi scoring twice – though the striker’s second goal was later awarded as a Maksim Medvedev own goal – and Zappacosta netting a stunning 30th-minute effort to send Chelsea top of their Champions League group.
Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag: Antonio Conte’s press conference
With Chelsea facing a congested fixture list in the coming weeks, Azpilicueta emphasised the need for every player to be ready to make an impact when called upon by Conte.
The defender told Standard Sport when asked about Batshuayi’s showing on Tuesday: “We need everyone in the squad, we know it’s a long season – we have games every three days.
“That’s what we need, everyone pushing together to get the job done and making it difficult for the manager [to select his team]. For a striker to get a goal was important for him.
“The feeling [in the dressing room] is that we have to work hard and go game by game. We are the current [Premier League] champions but we are still in September and have the whole season ahead.
“When we lost against Burnley, it wasn’t finished. It isn’t finished now. We have to carry on with our mentality and try to win the trophies we want.”
Azpilicueta was also on the scoresheet against Qarabag after the defender headed in a Cesc Fabregas pass in the 55th minute.
The goal was Azpilicueta’s first in the Champions League, and resulted in Conte saying the Spaniard is a “dream” to have in his team.
And when asked about how special it was to score his first goal in Europe’s premier competition, Azpilicueta replied: “It is always nice to score [because] it’s not my job.
“But to score my first goal in a Champions League game is nice, and even more so to do it at Stamford Bridge.”