Antonio Conte is a coach who can bring instant success to any club. His first year at Inter brought the clubs best finish in almost a decade. The Nerazzurri were just one point short of Juventus who eventually won the Serie A. The Italian coach succeeds everywhere he goes, from Chelsea to Juventus. But, if there was one thing that haunts Conte’s exemplary career as a manager, it is the UEFA Champions League. Conte and Champions League are not the best of friends. The Nerazzurri manager has never managed to get past the quarter-finals. That too was in his first season in the tournament with Juventus.
Why Antonio Conte fails in the Premier European competition
It’s not like Conte can’t manage the pressure to play in Europe. The Italian has won the Europa League with Chelsea and made it to the final with Inter. He has also won the UEFA Champions League as a player with Juventus. But, he just doesn’t look to fit well in the tournament as a coach. His teams often seem nervy in the games, making silly mistakes. Moreover, if you followed Inter’s last UCL campaign you know what I’m talking about. The team played a completely different brand of football once they were in the Europa League.
Conte’s European woes can be traced back to one thing, his preferred formation. The Nerazzurri manager almost never plays anything other than 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2. The three at the back require a lot of time to adapt to the system. Centre backs often play in a paring of two in a back four. But, Conte makes his centre backs strive for even easier tackles as they’ve to cover more ground.
Milan Skriniar is a calamity of Conte’s system. The Slovak defender became one of the best in the world after his first two seasons at the club. Since Conte’s arrival, Skriniar has struggled to cope with the new system and most centre backs will anyway. The system requires the back three to be quick and also really good at defending and making judgements. Most centre backs are not quick enough to fit in. The ones who actually manage to meet all of these criteria are either the best in the world or too young.
Can Conte and Champions League finally go hand in hand
Conte is set to bring the players he wants at Inter this summer. The Nerazzurri really want to win the Scudetto this year. They’ve already brought an amazing prospect in Achraf Hakimi and more are underway. Conte seems to have shifted his focus to more experienced and proven players like Arturo Vidal. While the Italian strives to win the Serie A with Inter, European goals can take a back seat.
Despite this, Inter will at least want to make a respectable finish, unlike last year. This is certainly not the year of the Nerazzurri in Europe. Conte will eye a good run in the knockouts but will have to get out of the group stages first. Hopefully, last years group stage performance will only be a bad memory and not a constant affair. Conte and Champions League won’t be best friends this season but they can certainly stop being enemies.