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A Look Back at Antonio Conte’s European Failures Following Inter’s Champions League Exit

To Conte’

Verb 

verb: Conte; 3rd person present: Contes; past tense: Conte’d; past participle: Conte’d; gerund or present participle: Conteing 

1. To bottle the simplest of tasks in a European competition and to generally make a fool of yourself

“Bayern Munich were minutes away from lifting the 1999 Champions League trophy, but they Conte’d it up in the last minute, handing Manchester United the victory.” 

2. To get a crazily obvious hair transplant. 

“Eurgh, I’m going a bit thin on top – I may need to Conte this sitch.” 

Antonio Conte

When Inter sacked Luciano Spalletti and hired Antonio Conte over the summer, it seemed like I Nerazzurri’s prayers had been answered. 

The Italian giants were fed up of living in Juventus’ shadow, so after hiring an ex-Juve coach and an ex-Juve Sporting Director, Inter were ready to challenge their arch enemies in their own authentic style. 

Conte has gone about his business at San Siro with typical ruthlessness, stripping his squad down to a select group of players, then complaining that he doesn’t have a big enough team to compete at the highest level.

While ​Inter were fielding a much-weakened midfield due to injury, and desperately searching for a goal against Barcelona on Tuesday night, the bombed-out Radja Nainggolan, Ivan Perisic and ​Mauro Icardi were probably watching with a rye smile, wondering if Conte was regretting the extreme measures he had taken against the trio.

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And so that leads us nicely on to Tuesday’s harrowing evening for the Interisti, who crashed out of the Champions League at the group stages – again – after a home defeat to Barcelona’s youth team. 

It was the second successive season that I Nerazzurri have failed to make it out of their group, and for Conte, it was not a new sensation either. 

Inter’s recent USP has become the tagline ‘Inter – not for everyone’. Well, the same slogan could be applied to their coach’s torturous relationship with the Champions League. 

Sometimes, a competition is just not one of your strengths, or in this case, it’s just not Conte’s cup of tea. 

With another disappointing failure under his belt, 90min takes a look back at Conte’s ultimate bottle jobs in Europe’s most prestigious tournament. 


Juventus (2011-14) 

There was no Champions League football during Conte’s debut campaign on the black and white bench, but ​Juventus’ first season back in Europe’s biggest competition ended in a comprehensive 4-0 aggregate defeat to ​Bayern Munich. 

It was far from inspiring from Conte’s side, but a round of 16 exit to the eventual winners is nothing to ridicule. 

However, newly-crowned Serie A champions Juve then entered the 2013/14 edition with plenty of expectation that their new era of dominance should translate to European success, too. Group B saw I Bianconeri drawn against ​Real Madrid, Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen. 


​Easy enough.

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Conte’s side won ONE game out of the opening five fixtures. This included a 2-2 draw with Copenhagen, a dramatic tie with Galatasaray, who looked beaten when Juve took a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute. The Turkish giants then went up the other end of the pitch to equalise just one minute later, putting I Bianconeri back in a sticky situation. 

The Old Lady went into the final game of the group stages needing only to avoid defeat against third-place Galatasaray, and she’d be on her way to the knock-out rounds. But CALAMITY! 

Wesley Sneijder bagged an 85th minute winner for the Turkish hosts, sinking Conte and co. down into the depths of the Europa League. 

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They had been well and truly Conte’d. 

Conte managed to get Juve to the Champions League final in the following season, but they suffered a humbling 3-1 defeat at the hands of ​Barcelona, whose lethal strike force of ​Neymar, ​Luis Suarez and ​Lionel Messi tore the Old Lady into black and white ribbons. 


Chelsea (2016-18) 

Much like his time at Juve, Conte’s arrival at ​Chelsea coincided with the club’s temporary slump, so (fortunately for the Italian boss) there was no European football to mess up. The former Italy boss worked his domestic magic though, and the Blues cruised to the Premier League title in 2017. 

Sadly, domestic success means only one thing – Champions League football. 

Stephan El Shaarawy

Chelsea were favourites to qualify from Group C, with ​Atletico Madrid, Roma and Qarabag as their opponents. Conte did manage to navigate a successful passage into the Champions League knock-out rounds, but his side Conte’d it up and had to settle for second place. 

The London club threw away a two-goal lead at home to Roma, and then were on the end of a 3-0 hammering in the reverse fixture at the Stadio Olimpico. 

Conte’s punishment for failing to top their group was a tie with Barcelona, who – as proven by Roma later in the competition – could be got at very easily. Chelsea showed no signs of ever threatening the Catalan giants, and Conte Conte’d once again on the big stage, losing 3-0 at Camp Nou to end their adventure in the round of 16. 

He must have been pulling his hair out. 


Inter (2019-)

And so we arrive to the present day. 

Conte’s Inter are sitting top of the Serie A table, and they look set to launch a proper title challenge for the first time in almost a decade. Heartbreak for the ex-Juve boss however – Inter qualified for the Champions League last season. 

On the face of it, their group was the so-called ‘group of death’, pulling Barcelona and ​Borussia Dortmund along with Slavia Prague. But scratch a bit deeper under the surface, and there was plenty more cause for optimism. 

This Barcelona side is a far cry from their team of old, and they are only sitting joint-top of La Liga due to the deficiencies of their floundering competitors. Meanwhile in Germany, Dortmund can’t string a run of positive results together and have a shockingly leaky backline which is begging to be exploited. 

Nicolo Barella,Matteo Politano,Valentino Lazaro

Inter started the tournament with the easiest game of the lot: at home to the whipping boys. Safe to say, they really Conte’d this one up. The hosts saved themselves from complete embarrassment, snatching a 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague during the dying embers of the match – but it was a far from ideal start. 

Inter then went to Camp Nou, possibly their hardest match of the six, and played some incredible football, but ultimately Conte’d it up in the second half, throwing away their one-goal lead to lose the match. 

An impressive 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund put I Nerazzurri back in control of their fate, and they took a brilliant 2-0 lead going into half-time of the reverse tie in Germany. This was it. This was the moment Inter and Conte broke their horrific cycle. 

Nah. They Conte’d the F out of this one. Three second-half goals from Dortmund left I Nerazzurri with plenty to do, but somehow victory in Prague then put them back in the driving seat going into the final match, despite their constant screw-ups. 

Antonio Conte

All Conte needed to do was secure victory against a Barcelona side that doesn’t travel well, that was already qualified and had left Messi at home. Yet, somehow, that tagline just kept resurfacing in their minds: “Not for everyone”.

Barcelona’s second-string team frustrated Inter for large parts, and although the hosts had three goals disallowed for offside, Ernesto Valverde’s side killed the contest with five minutes remaining, and Conte was left to pick up the pieces of another European dream gone rogue. 

Still, there’s always the Europa League, Antonio…


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Tammy Abraham Reveals Who He Wants Chelsea to Face in Champions League Round of 16

​Tammy Abraham has said that he’s eager for Chelsea to be drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Blues secured qualification to the knockout stages on Tuesday after a nervy 2-1 win against Lille, but had to settle for second place in Group H after Valencia beat Ajax to top the group.

Tammy Abraham

Abraham, who scored the opener at Stamford Bridge, revealed post-match that while ​Chelsea will be happy with any draw, he would personally love to face ​Barça.

“Ready for anyone, ready for anyone to be honest,” Abraham said, as quoted by ​football.london. “I would love it if it is playing at the Nou Camp or somewhere I’ve never played before.

“It’s exciting, very exciting. For us, we’re never ones to back down from a challenge. We want to play against the best teams in the world and play in the best stadiums in the world so for us it is exciting times. No fear.

“Playing in the last 16 is a dream come true, it is about just focusing on the league now and then in the new year coming back to the last 16. It has been a fantastic journey, exciting journey. You never know what the future holds. For us it is about going out there every game and just believing in ourselves.

“When we saw the draw [for the group stage] we knew it was going to be hard, we left it to the last game to go through but it is exciting times going forward.”

Tammy Abraham

Chelsea will discover their opponents for the last 16 on Monday. The Blues will be drawn against one of Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Juventus, RB Leipzig or Barcelona in the next round.

They’ve advanced to the quarter-finals just three times this decade, with the last being in the 2013/14 season when Jose Mourinho was manager and Frank Lampard was still a player.

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Mateo Kovacic Reveals the Endearing Reason Behind Unusual Goal Celebration

Chelsea’s tough-tackling midfielder Mateo Kovačić has exposed his softer side by explaining the touching origin behind his goal celebration.

When the Croatian scored away at Valencia in the Champions League, he raised his hand to his face, and has now explained that the gesture is a nod to his two nieces, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome.

Kovačić’s long-range strike at Mestalla was his first goal for the club, having previously gone 44 games without finding the back of the net for the Blues.

And speaking to ​Chelsea’s official website, Kovacic told how the celebration had been in the offing for quite some time and now he has opened his account, he plans on scoring more for his loved ones. 

“I’ve had the celebration prepared for a while because I didn’t score last season!” he said. “It’s nice when you score and you can celebrate with the family. They have waited a long time but now I hope I can continue like that.”

Carlos Soler,Mateo Kovacic

After failing to notch during the entirety of last season, the Croatian has hit a purple patch and followed up his Valencia strike with a goal in Saturday’s 3-1 ​Premier League defeat away to ​Everton.

Continuing, Kovačić revealed that his lack of goals had become a sensitive topic around the club and even confessed that boss Frank Lampard had started questioning his striking prowess.

“Last season I was obsessed a little bit [with not scoring] because people were always asking when I was going to score,” he said. “He [Lampard] has joked about that before but I also think he was being serious, because he knows I should score more goals.”

Frank Lampard

​Chelsea boss Lampard will be hoping to see Kovačić’s name more regularly on the scoresheet, and Tuesday night against Lille would be a great game for the Croatian to continue his goalscoring touch.

The Blues know that a win at home to the French side would guarantee qualification to the knockout stages of the​ Champions League.

Lille currently sit bottom of Group H and it should be a comfortable night at Stamford Bridge – but if the Blues slip up, it could leave them playing in the Europa after Christmas.

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Fikayo Tomori Expected to Extend Chelsea Contract Imminently as Talks Enter Advanced Stage

​Chelsea centre back Fikayo Tomori is close to agreeing a new contract to extend his stay at the club, with talks reaching an advanced stage.

The 21-year-old has made an excellent start to the 2019/20 campaign, cementing his place in the heart of the Blues’ defence. Overall, he has featured 16 times in all competitions so far. 

His performances have also seen him earn his first cap for England as he came on during the Three Lions’ 4-0 win over Kosovo in November.


​It was reported back in September that the west London side had opened contract talks with Tomori after an impressive start to the season. The report stated that talks had begun over a contract which would see him commit to the club until 2024.

​Goal now report that following months of contract talks, the Englishman is on the verge of signing a contract extension after talks entered an advanced stage.

Tomori joined the club at under-eight level and has progressed through the club’s academy system. He has had loan spells at Brighton and Hove Albion, Hull City and most recently ​Derby County, where he excelled in 2018/19 under Frank Lampard.

Fikayo Tomori

The defender would be the latest talented youngster to put pen to paper on a new deal this season, with Mason Mount, ​Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour all penning new deals, while Callum Hudson-Odoi has also signed a new five-year deal.

The news of another one of Lampard’s young guns committing to the club will excite fans, with the Blues making a strong start to the new campaign despite the recent poor run of form. 

​Chelsea host Lille in the Champions League on Tuesday in a crunch clash as they look to secure their place in the last 16. They will be without Tomori, ​who has been ruled out with a small hip strain, but Antonio Rudiger has finally overcome his recent injury struggles and could be in line to feature. 

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Roman Abramovich Rejects Mega-Money Bid From American Billionaire to Sell Chelsea

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly rejected a mammoth offer ‘in recent weeks’ to sell Chelsea Football Club from American billionaire Todd Boehly. 

Abramovich has been the club’s majority shareholder since 2003 and under his ownership up to this point, the Blues have won the Premier League five times, the FA Cup five times, the League Cups three times, the Europa League twice, as well as the Champions League in 2012.

However, as a result of the difficulties he has had in renewing his visa, Abramovich has not attended a game at Stamford Bridge since 2018. The last game the 53-year-old attended was the Europa League final back in May.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SUNDERLAND-TROPHY

As a result, he has been linked with selling the club in recent times. However, it was ​reported towards the end of November that Abramovich was no longer open to the idea of selling ​Chelsea, with the majority shareholder ‘very pleased’ with the way things are going under new manager Frank Lampard.

​The Wall Street Journal are now reporting that he has now rejected a giant offer from American billionaire Boehly in November. The report claims that while the bid fell short of the $3bn (£2.28n) asking price, the exact offer is not yet known. 

It further mentions that Boehly ‘remains interested’ and may look to return with another bid. The businessman was the former president of Guggenheim Partners LLC before forming Eldridge Industries LLC in 2015.

Chelsea FC v Valencia CF: Group H - UEFA Champions League

The London School of Economics (LSE) graduate has shown an interest in expanding the firm and branching out from the United States. Boehly owns 20% of Major League Baseball side LA Dodgers, while he also part-owns Women’s National Basketball Association side Los Angeles Sparks.

This, of course, isn’t the first offer that Abramovich has turned down in recent times, ​having reportedly rejected a big-money offer from the Middle East towards the end of the 2018/19 season. 

It remains to be seen whether the majority shareholder is indeed not interested in selling the club, or if he is holding out for the right price. 

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