Published on February 22nd, 2018 | by Vieri Capretta


Champions League winners and losers – Conte’s masterclass and a blow for Besiktas

In another vibrant Champions League week, Antonio Conte showed why he is still a tactical magician, but more players will need to ‘come to Besiktas’ 


Antonio Conte

A tactical masterclass. Nothing really to add. Antonio Conte at it again, with Chelsea putting Barcelona in the worst possible conditions to play. Yes, the Blaugrana still managed 70% ball possession, but if it wasn’t for a defensive mistake, and had Willian had a bit more luck, we would probably be talking about a solid win for the Blues. Instead, the 1-1 result means Conte’s men will have to score at the Nou Camp, a real challenge for anybody. But the Italian manager demonstrated once again his immense tactical abilities.

Bayern Munich

Remember when the Bavarians lost 3-0 in Paris under Carlo Ancelotti? We had almost forgotten. It seems like a decade ago. Jupp Heynckes has the team under control, and with the great players Bayern have it was almost systematic for them to blast away Besiktas with such a huge result. Bayern have booked a place in the quarter-finals, and are easily one of the favourites for the final victory.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Eastern European defence, South American attack. The mix continues to impress, as Shakhtar came from behind to win 2-1 at home over Roma, a result that keeps the tie open but shows what Paulo Fonseca’s men are able to do, despite the pressure. Fred – who is set to join Manchester City in the summer – won it with an exquisite free kick, and now the Ukrainian side will travel to Rome with the knowledge they can win and go through to the next round.



Come to Besiktas? Maybe not quite yet. The very media-attracting summer transfer window for the Turkish side has not fully produced the results they expected. Many big name players are now part of Besiktas, but the 5-0 defeat to Bayern is one that will knock them out of the Champions League as quickly as ever. Certainly more was expected, and even if the draw was unlucky, after topping the group, losing this way is just too bad.

José Mourinho

The Portuguese manager will be happy with the clean sheet, but many Manchester United fans won’t be happy with the attitude and with not having scored away. The 0-0 result is a risky one: conceding at Old Trafford would put the Red Devils in a very uncomfortable position. Sure, if it wasn’t for David De Gea we’d be talking about a defeat at Sevilla, with the necessity to turn things round in the return leg. But not even registering one single shot on target is a bit too much for this Manchester United side.


Dominant for about 50 minutes, then ready to be cut down to size by Shakhtar. This simply cannot happen at a Champions League level. A half played at high level is never enough to get by. Consistency and solidity are fundamental. Roma got the lead then sat back, and it was only thanks to goalkeeper Alisson and tons of luck that Shakhtar didn’t finish the game with at least a 4-1 victory that would have ended all hopes for the Giallorossi.

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A freelance journalist and broadcaster focusing on European soccer and currently featuring on Uefa.com, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marca in English and more.

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