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Why manager Conte struggles so badly in European football

Antonio Conte has had a successful coaching career so far.

He has four Serie A titles and a Premier League trophy to show for his 16 year long managerial spell.

That said, the current Tottenham boss has a relatively mediocre record in Europe.

Surprisingly, Conte never managed to take his teams past the quarter-final stage in the Champions League. He has only managed to reach the last eight of the competition once, with Juventus back in 2012/13.

Luck did not favour the Italian in lower tier European competitions as well.

We saw him crashing out of the Conference League last season with Spurs. He made it to the Europa League final in 2019/20 with Inter, only to lose to Sevilla in the final.

Conte’s Tottenham are topping their Champions League group this time around, but they are yet to confirm knockout stage qualification with only one round left to play.

If things don’t go their way in the remaining fixture, Spurs could get demoted to the Europa League, or worse, get knocked out of Europe altogether.

Conte did win the Champions League as a player. He was a member of the Bianconeri side which was crowned European champions in the 1995/96 season. But why has his record been so poor in the competition as a manager?

The early years

2012/13 was Conte’s debut managerial campaign.

A quarter-final finish with Juventus seemed like a decent result, but doubts started to emerge about Conte’s European capabilities in the season that followed.

Conte’s Juventus shared the group with Real Madrid, Copanhagen, and Galatasaray in the 2013/14 Champions League season.

They falled to win any of their first four matches. A home win against Copenhagen broke their winless run, but an away defeat to Galatasaray in the following match threw them out of the competition.

It was the first of three Champions League group stage eliminations Conte has suffered so far.

Is Conte a bit stuck?

Many critics have pointed out that Conte’s overreliance on the 3-5-2 formation has hurt his European credentials severely.

He has particularly struggled against lesser oppositions with this system. Even though it worked well for him domestically, Conte failed to crack the European code with his 3-5-2.

Antonio Conte is a sound tactician. But his in-game management can be put under scrutiny.

He hesitates to deviate from the original plan midway through the game. This particular trait is crucial in Cup competitions where a defeat can have far more severe repercussions than in the league.

After overseeing 41 Champions League games, Antonio Conte only has 14 wins under his belt.

He must recognise that he has to switch from his league strategy to get success in Europe. Here teams come from different leagues with different styles of play. Without being more flexible with his managerial approach, Conte can’t expect to put an end to his European woes.

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