Champions League last-16 draw: tie-by-tie analysis | Champions League

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Last month, Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, advocating for a Super League, lamented that his club have faced Liverpool in just nine competitive games. His wish for more has been granted sooner than he expected and perhaps would have liked. Real beat Liverpool reasonably comfortably in last season’s final and had few issues topping a relatively straightforward group, while Liverpool have suffered a miserable start to the season. With Mohamed Salah returning to form, though, Jürgen Klopp’s side may have improved by February and, out of the title race, can afford to focus on Europe. Aurélien Tchouaméni has joined Real and Eduardo Camavinga was beginning to make an impact last season, but the sense remains that the post-Casemiro midfield is yet to be really tested.

Winners Liverpool.

RB Leipzig's André Silva is congratulated after scoring against Manchester City last season
RB Leipzig’s André Silva is congratulated after scoring against Manchester City last season. Photograph: Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

RB Leipzig v Manchester City

These teams met in last season’s group stage, City winning 6-3 at the Etihad before a 2-1 defeat in Germany, with qualification long since secured. In the first of those games, Leipzig were managed by Jesse Marsch; in the second by the caretaker Achim Beierlorzer. Since then Domenico Tedesco has come and gone and now, under Marco Rose, there has been a significant upturn. Saturday’s 3-0 win at Hoffenheim extended Leipzig’s unbeaten run to 11 games and they have been prolific in that time. The front four of André Silva, Dominik Szoboszlai, Christian Nkunku and Timo Werner, who should be back from his ankle injury by February, will test City on the counter.

Winners Manchester City.

Club Brugge v Benfica

Club Brugge were the great surprise of the group stage, winning their first three games without conceding a goal. They secured progress with a 0-0 draw at Atlético Madrid, but the heavy home defeat to Porto that ultimately cost them top spot perhaps gave a truer impression of their abilities: no pushovers, well-organised, but essentially limited. Benfica, meanwhile, ended the group stage in joyous form, with Rafa Silva and João Mario playing probably the best football of their careers. There may be defensive concerns but, even more than the 6-1 win at Maccabi Haifa that meant they topped the group, the 4-3 win over Juventus, when they should have won far more convincingly, demonstrated just how dangerous Roger Schmidt’s side can be.

Winners Benfica.

Milan v Tottenham

Tottenham have not lost to Milan in their four previous meetings, a Peter Crouch goal giving them a 1-0 win at San Siro in their last tie in 2010-11, but how good they are at the moment is anyone’s guess. Hampered by injuries to forwards, with a weird inability to play in the first half (particularly when Dejan Kulusevski is absent) and a dislocation between the midfield and the forward line, their results have been rather better than performances so far this season. The Italian champions have suffered only two defeats in Serie A and have in Rafael Leão one of the more exciting forwards in Europe, but they were desperately poor in losing twice to Chelsea during the group stages, with injuries offer only some excuse.

Winners Tottenham.

André-Frank Zambo Anguissa celebrates scoring Napoli’s second goal in their 4-1 win against Liverpool in September
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa celebrates scoring Napoli’s second goal in their 4-1 win against Liverpool in September. Photograph: Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Eintracht Frankfurt v Napoli

Top of Serie A, unbeaten domestically and hugely impressive in the group stage, Napoli may be the most serious Italian challengers since Juventus decided five league titles in five seasons just wasn’t good enough and got rid of Max Allegri. They are playing fast, dynamic football under Luciano Spalletti and, after the failure of Italy, Nigeria and Georgia to qualify for the World Cup, have an unusual number of players who should be refreshed by a winter break. But unfancied as they may be under Oliver Glasner, Eintracht Frankfurt have become masters of the European away leg. Their Europa League success last season featured victories at Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham, and this season they won on the road against Marseille and, when they absolutely needed it, Sporting.

Winners Napoli.

Borussia Dortmund v Chelsea

After a shaky start, progress from the group ended up being straightforward for Chelsea, but this is a club still undergoing transition as the recent league defeats to Brighton and Arsenal have shown. There were problems to be addressed in the squad even before the complications of sanctions, and recent injuries have exposed the imbalances that Graham Potter will need to resolve. With Sevilla in miserable form, Borussia Dortmund qualified for the last 16 easily enough, thanks in no small part to a 4-1 win in Spain, a game that highlighted just how important Jude Bellingham has become to Alen Terzic’s side. He may be only 19 but only he, Julian Brandt and Nico Schlotterback have played all 13 league games this season.

Winners Chelsea.

Internazionale v Porto

Porto trail Benfica by eight points domestically but they showed admirable resolve to bounce back from successive defeats at the start of the group stage to qualify with four wins in a row. After suffering a knee injury a month ago, Pepe is a doubt for the World Cup but Porto should have his experience back at the heart of the defence for the last 16. This has not been an easy season domestically for Internazionale and they were twice well-beaten by Bayern Munich, but two fine counterattacking performances against Barcelona ensured progress to the knockout phase for only the second time in the past decade. If Romelu Lukaku can rediscover his form and fitness, his partnership with Lautaro Martínez represents a major threat.

Winners Porto.

PSG’s Keylor Navas concedes the only goal of the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman
PSG’s Keylor Navas concedes the only goal of the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman (second right). Photograph: Miguel A Lopes/AP

Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich

For most of the group stage Paris Saint-Germain seemed to be cruising to top spot, but they were undone at the last by Benfica’s flurry away to Maccabi Haifa and are punished with a repeat of the 2020 final. In a sense they fell into a trap they had dug themselves by drawing at home against Benfica the day after stories broke of Kylian Mbappé’s supposed unhappiness at the club. The competing egos will always be the biggest challenge for a PSG coach. Bayern are top of the Bundesliga again, but four draws and a defeat at Augsburg have led to a certain amount of chuntering about Julian Nagelsmann, despite six wins out of six in the Champions League. His record in big European games is not brilliant.

Winners Bayern Munich.

Champions League roundup: Eintracht Frankfurt reach last 16 for the first time | Champions League

Eintracht Frankfurt staged a second-half comeback, scoring twice in 10 minutes to beat the hosts Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on Tuesday and qualify for the Champions League last 16 for the first time, knocking the Portuguese club out of the competition.

Sporting needed only a point to advance and they took the lead when the winger Arthur Gomes volleyed in at the far post after a looping cross was headed on in the 39th minute.

Eintracht, the Europa League champions last season, hardly got a look-in during the first half but came out fighting after the break, needing a win to secure a top-two finish.

A handball by the Sporting captain, Sebastian Coates, in the 62nd minute gave Frankfurt a penalty and Daichi Kamada drew them level with a well-taken spot-kick.

The France international Randal Kolo Muani then powered into the box and drilled home the winner 10 minutes later to complete their comeback and secure second place behind Tottenham in Group D.

Bayern Munich completed a perfect group stage by beating fellow qualifiers Internazionale 2-0 thanks to goals from Benjamin Pavard and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in their final Group C game.

Bayern ended top on 18 points, eight ahead of second-placed Inter with both teams having already reached the knockout stage.

In Pilsen, Ferran Torres scored in each half as Barcelona eased past Viktoria Plzen 4-2 but both sides were already eliminated from the competition. Barcelona remained in third place in Group C behind Bayern and Inter and will drop into the Europa League. Plzen ended their European campaign without a point.

Barcelona, who rested a number of regulars including Robert Lewandowski, struck six minutes into the match when the defender Marcos Alonso poked the ball over the line.

The visitors doubled the lead just before the break when Jordi Alba deftly nodded the ball to the feet of an unmarked Torres who calmly slotted the ball into the net for a goal initially ruled out before a VAR review.

The Czech champions briefly cut the deficit in half when Tomas Chory converted a penalty after winning a spot-kick in the 51st minute before Torres nabbed his second of the night on the break minutes later.

Plzen responded with a glancing Chory header in the 63rd minute to potentially set up a nervy finish until Pablo Torre slammed a shot into the roof of the net on his Barcelona debut to wrap up the victory.

Porto’s Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after scoring against Atlético Madrid
Porto’s Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after scoring against Atlético Madrid Photograph: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

Goals from Mehdi Taremi and Stephen Eustáquio helped Porto to secure a 2-1 win at home against Atlético Madrid to finish top of Group B.

Porto had already qualified for the last 16 but leapfrogged Club Brugge to finish as group winners with 12 points, one point ahead of the Belgian club who also went through. Atlético finished last, failing even to qualify for the Europa League knockout round playoffs.

Porto went ahead in the fifth minute when the forward Taremi tapped in a cross from Evanilson, registering his fifth goal in the Champions League this season.

The midfielder Eustáquio doubled Porto’s lead in the 24th minute, drilling the ball into the bottom corner after Galeno sprinted down the left and played a cross inside the box.

Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann found the net in the 68th minute but the referee had already blown the whistle for a foul from Rodrigo De Paul on Galeno in the build-up, while the Porto keeper Diogo Costa saved a shot from Angel Correa six minutes later.

The Porto defender Ivan Marcano scored an own goal in added time, but it did not do much damage to Porto who went on to seal three points.

Club Brugge finished second in their Champions League group after failing to win at Bayer Leverkusen, drawing 0-0 in their final Group B game.

Brugge had already qualified for the round of 16 in February following their first four games after emerging as the surprise package of the Champions League group campaign.

But a 4-0 defeat at home against Porto last week and the draw at the Bay Arena on Tuesday meant they ended on 11 points from their six games, one behind Porto.

Leverkusen finished third to take a Europa League place ahead of Atletico on their head-to-head results against the Spanish club.

Brugge came closest to victory when their Canada international Tajon Buchanan struck the upright shortly after half-time although Leverkusen were the more attacking and forced visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to make some key saves. Mignolet kept five clean sheets in the six group games.

European roundup: Dusan Vlahovic scores winner for Juventus at Torino | European club football

The Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic scored a late goal to secure a 1-0 win at local rivals Torino in Serie A after both teams struggled to create clear-cut chances.

The pressure was on for Juve and their manager Massimiliano Allegri after a 2-0 Champions League loss at Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday, but their lacklustre performance in the first half gave the injury-hit visitors little cause for optimism.

The first 45 minutes of the Turin derby was a tame affair with little to cheer for either side. Torino had half-chances around the box but they were snuffed out by the Juve defence.

Vlahovic had the first chance of the match after 34 minutes but his fellow Serb Vanja Milinkovic-Savic made an impressive save and then kept out Manuel Locatelli’s effort.

Vlahovic then lost his marker in the 74th minute and tapped the ball in from close range after an assist from Danilo, securing a much-needed win for Allegri’s team who are now seventh with 16 points from 10 games. Torino are 11th with 11 points.

In France, Lorient missed out on the chance to move provisionally top of Ligue 1 as they were held to a goalless stalemate at home by nine-man Reims on Saturday.

Lorient lacked their usual creativity and failed to take advantage after Dion Lopy was given Reims’ eighth red card this season early in the second half. Emmanuel Agbadou was also sent off in stoppage time.

The result leaves Lorient in second place on 26 points from 11 games, behind Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference ahead of the French champions’ clash with third-placed Marseille on Sunday. Reims are 14th on nine points.

Lorient started brightly but suffered a setback when the forward Terem Moffi was forced off injured in the 24th minute.

The Reims midfielder Lopy got a second yellow card and was sent off a minute after half-time, but the visitors continued to dominate and they also coped with Agbadou’s dismissal to earn a point.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso reacts during his side’s 5-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso reacts during his side’s 5-1 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Eintracht Frankfurt climbed to fourth in the Bundesliga after thrashing 10-man Bayer Leverkusen 5-1 at home, including two penalties by the Japan midfielder Daichi Kamada.

The Europa League champions Frankfurt have 17 points after 10 games and trail third-placed Hoffenheim on goal difference. Leverkusen slipped into the relegation zone in 16th with eight points.

After a series of missed chances, Leverkusen were awarded a penalty before the break when Jesper Lindstrøm was brought down in the box by Edmond Tapsoba. The forward Randal Kolo Muani took the penalty, which was saved by Lukas Hradecky, but the VAR ruled the Leverkusen keeper was off his line, forcing a retake. Kamada took the second attempt and made it 1-0.

Leverkusen, playing under new coach Xabi Alonso, drew level in the 56th minute through a header from Piero Hincapié after a free-kick, but their joy was short-lived as Kolo Muani made up for his penalty miss with a diving header two minutes later.

Lindstrom made it 3-1 in the 65th minute with a sublime lob over Hradecky from a tight angle before Kamada scored a 72nd-minute penalty as Hincapie was sent off for picking up a second yellow for a tackle on Kolo Muani.

Lucas Alario wrapped up the win with a tap-in in the 86th minute, scoring his first league goal for Frankfurt against his former side.

RB Leipzig scored three first-half goals before staving off a spirited Hertha Berlin comeback after the break to win an entertaining game 3-2. Goals from Emil Forsberg, Abdou Diallo and Willie Orbán had put Leipzig in a commanding position before Dodi Lukebakio and Stevan Jovetic pulled two back to set up a nervy finale.

This story will be updated

Son and Kane combine again as Spurs edge Frankfurt and move to top spot | Champions League

After 85 minutes of facing Son Heung-min in this mood, you had to feel for the Eintracht Frankfurt defenders. A mesmerising performance from the South Korean which included one of the most emphatic volleys you will ever see helped Tottenham take what Antonio Conte will hope is a giant step towards the knockout stages.

Having fallen behind to Daichi Kamada’s early strike for Frankfurt this could easily have turned into a nightmare evening for Conte, whose record in the Champions League at his previous clubs has never quite matched his achievements in domestic competitions.

But then the Italian has never had a strike partnership quite like Son and Harry Kane, whose assist for his partner-in-crime’s equaliser was the 50th goal combination they have managed in all competitions. Kane’s penalty and Son’s wonder strike left Frankfurt gasping for air before half-time, with their misery compounded when Brazilian defender Tuta saw red in the second half having been completely bamboozled by Son.

After last week’s 0-0 draw in Germany left Group D wide open, Conte had called on Tottenham supporters to ensure his side could “play with 12 players” by creating an “amazing atmosphere”.

Having paid an emotional tribute to Gian Piero Ventrone in his programme notes, Conte led the minute’s applause for the former fitness coach before kick-off and former player John Duncan as he stood next to Ventrone’s vacant seat that was decorated with a floral tribute.

Yet it was Frankfurt, whose energetic supporters packed out the away section, who started with more conviction and may even have taken the lead earlier than they did. Kamada found himself totally unmarked at the back post but could not quite reach a dangerous cross into the Tottenham box inside the opening five minutes.

Conte, who decided against risking recalling Dejan Kulusevski despite positive news on his hamstring injury this week, opted to restore Emerson Royal at right wing-back as one of three changes from the side that defeated Brighton at the weekend.

Harry Kane scores Tottenham’s second goal with a penalty during the Champions League match against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Harry Kane scores Tottenham’s second goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

But it was two other defenders who were at fault for the opening goal when Eric Dier took his eye off a sloppy pass across the penalty area from Cristian Romero just for a second and Frankfurt’s Jesper Lindstrøm was there to pounce.

Hugo Lloris could only palm the ball away before Sebastian Rode showed great awareness to square for Kamada to score. Frankfurt’s lead would last for barely seven minutes, however, as Royal’s pass from his own half picked out Kane and the England captain’s through ball was measured to perfection for Son to finish with aplomb past Kevin Trapp.

There was more debate about Tottenham’s second when Kane went down in the area after a mazy dribble from the left flank. Referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande initially waved away his appeals to the obvious frustration of Conte down on the touchline, but VAR intervened to rule that Kristijan Jakic had brought him down and Kane stepped up to fire Spurs in front.

A powerful effort from Lindstrøm that Lloris did well to parry away at his near post could have seen Oliver Glasner’s side hit back immediately in a sign that last year’s Europa League winners would not go down without a fight.

But after Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s cross allowed Son to dispatch his perfect volley past the helpless Trapp, even the supporters behind his goal were momentarily struggling to find their voices. It was only down to the Eintracht goalkeeper that Son was his denied his hat-trick just before half-time after the South Korean beat the offside trap once again, with Trapp also coming to his side’s rescue to palm away a header from Romero.

Tottenham had failed to record a victory in their past five Champions League meetings with German clubs but could have made sure of the points early in the second half had Ryan Sessegnon made the most of two opportunities that fell his way. The second came after dogged work down the right flank from Richarlison called Trapp into action again to save Sessegnon’s goalbound shot.

Frankfurt’s fate was effectively sealed when Tuta was dismissed after being booked twice in the space of five minutes for fouls on Son. Having been dragged back by his shirt and then pulled to the ground, so desperate was the Tottenham forward to complete his hat-trick that he was still trying to play on even after the referee had awarded the foul.

To their credit, the victors kept pushing and almost found an unlikely route back into the game when Lindstrøm’s shot was expertly saved by Lloris. Substitute Faride Alidou’s late goal from a corner after Son had been withdrawn briefly aroused hope that they could rescue something but it was to be Tottenham’s night in the end, even when Kane blazed over from the spot in injury time after Bryan Gil was brought down by Jakic.

Kane determined to prove people wrong and deliver Champions League goals | Tottenham Hotspur

It was interesting that when Harry Kane launched his charitable foundation on Monday, with the aim to transform the conversation around mental health, he brought up his release by Arsenal as an eight-year-old.

The Tottenham and England striker has not hidden the detail; it is a part of his story and he has always been an open person, happy to engage. But at the same time, it has long had the trappings of a guilty secret – you know, Spurs’ homegrown hero and the other mob in north London.

Kane wanted to share the episode in a cartoon that went out on his social media channels because he felt it was important to address the subject of rejection for his younger fans (and the older ones, too); to show that strength can come in adversity if there is the willingness to “go again and work even harder”.

The 29-year-old read a bedtime story for the nation’s children that evening on CBeebies and, in it, he admitted to feeling vulnerable and fearful at times, and how it was OK.

This was Kane opening up to own the narrative in all the right ways and for all the right reasons. It also highlighted the single truth behind everything he has achieved. To paraphrase him from his press conference before the pivotal Champions League tie at home against Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday night, his identity is to fight and to prove people wrong.

Kane has a lot going on, a great weight on his shoulders – mainly because of the World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on 20 November. Every time the England captain feels a challenge and goes down, it is as if the nation holds its breath. An injury to Gareth Southgate’s talisman is unthinkable. Kane is committed, as well, to wearing the OneLove armband at the finals as part of an anti-discrimination initiative and in support of the LGBTQ+ community. He has taken on the responsibility of being a face for the campaign.

But first Spurs and vaulting his latest obstacle. Kane has started the season brilliantly – with eight goals in 12 club matches, almost all of them decisive. If it were not for some bloke at Manchester City, Kane’s form would have been trumpeted more widely. And yet in three Champions League ties so far, he has drawn blanks. It has to change, with even Antonio Conte, the Spurs manager, acknowledging that “we need his goals in the Champions League”.

Kane goes back to the Arsenal rejection. He goes back to those loan spells at the beginning of his professional career – two of which, at Norwich and Leicester, did not work out. He will dig deeper and he will overcome.

Harry Kane scores his eighth goal of the season for Tottenham at Brighton
Harry Kane scored his eighth goal of the season for Tottenham at Brighton. Photograph: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

“It’s always been part of my personality to prove people wrong and when you look back on my career … going out on loan and the things I had to achieve to get to where I am now, for sure, that’s part of my identity,” Kane said, when asked about the Arsenal rejection cartoon.

“It’s a really important message for any young boys or girls wanting to become footballers or anything in life. There are going be knocks along the way but it’s about how you cope with that – keep working and keep moving forward. My personality is to prove, not just people wrong, but to myself that I can be the best that I know I can be.

“I want to score in every game. There have been a few in the [Champions League] group and I’ve been disappointed not to get on the scoresheet. I’m hoping I can turn it around.”

For Kane and his teammates the ruthlessness was not there in last Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Eintracht in Frankfurt and, with the group finely balanced, Conte did not have to spell out why Spurs had to “exploit” this tie and the one that follows against Sporting, also at home.

Conte will again be without Dejan Kulusevski, who has had a precautionary scan on his injured hamstring; it showed no problems and he could return against Everton on Saturday. Lucas Moura is back in the squad after a tendon issue.

Kane was asked about Erling Haaland, who has begun the season in such scorching form at City. Kane has only respect and admiration for him but the numbers of a rival are of no concern. “Because it’s nothing I can control,” Kane said.

“I am concentrating on what I can do and helping the team in any way that is possible. It has been going well so far in the Premier League. I want to try to score a few more goals in the Champions League.”

Spurs and Antonio Conte frustrated in Champions League Frankfurt draw | Champions League

Ed Sheeran played this stadium a couple of weeks ago, and so at least this was not the first time Deutsche Bank Park had been treated to an insipid mid-tempo performance that some people bafflingly insist is the work of a generational genius.

This was not the best of Tottenham, and frankly nor is it the best of Antonio Conte. The fundamentals were sound, the defence just about held tight and this was at least a major improvement on their derby collapse at the weekend.

But the sense of treading water is unmistakable, the feeling that everyone here, from Conte to Harry Kane to the supporters paying their hard-earned, is just slowly getting older. What’s the point of all this? Where is this team going? Does it all just click at some point? Or does it atrophy and drift, a club whose sole point of existence is to keep the same players together so they can do this all again next year?

Indeed for all Tottenham’s superior quality there was a marked difference in vivacity between them and their opponents: Oliver Glasner’s brittle, brilliant little butterfly, the Europa League champions and still giddily accustoming themselves to nights like these.

Indeed the quiet rise of Eintracht from relegation candidates in 2016 to Champions League material in 2022 is one of the lesser-mentioned stories in European football, perhaps because there has been little linear or logical about it. Every time it felt like they were about to turn a corner, another limp run of form would come along. Every time they developed a star, someone else would pinch them. Maintaining their restless momentum despite losing the calibre of Luka Jovic, Sebastian Haller, Ante Rebic, André Silva and Filip Kostic in the last four summers has been perhaps their most considerable achievement.

Antonio Conte applauds the fans at full time after his unchanged Tottenham side played out a lacklustre draw at Eintracht Frankfurt. Photograph: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock

But they have speed and style and perhaps the loudest fans in Germany, and here they had the better of the opening exchanges. For a team who essentially retreat into a 5-4-1 without the ball, Tottenham are still too porous, still too easy to manoeuvre out of shape, and Frankfurt began with a clutch of half-chances and promising openings before Tottenham finally began to get a grip on the game.

Much of Tottenham’s play went through Emerson Royal, a man at the centre of a rumbling debate amongst Spurs fans of late. Do his defensive qualities excuse his total absence of attacking threat? Why does Conte love this guy so much when he has Matt Doherty and Djed Spence on the bench? Is everyone missing something here? And here again Emerson was the usual blend of lightning speed, tenacity, shots shanked over the bar and crosses blocked by the first man: a sort of human anxiety dream, and with a roughly similar end product.

But as Tottenham’s press began to click, chances were coming. Kane should have done much better at the back post after a well-worked free-kick from Son Heung-min. Next Kane and Son each had a dip from about 20 yards, both just wide. Ivan Perisic’s effort dribbled past the post after deflecting off Kristijan Jakic.

In a testy press conference ahead of this game, Conte had rounded on critics of his counterattacking system, claiming that he could “teach football to many people”, including Tottenham’s own fans.

Certainly you have to admire the stones of a coach willing to utter the unutterable truth of this profession: that ultimately, most people who watch the sport don’t really know very much about it at all. But the really interesting part of his analysis was where he essentially rejected the binary of attacking/defensive football, arguing that what we so often describe as positivity or negativity is often simply a distinction of execution. Fail to make the most of your chances, make elementary errors in defence, and really doesn’t matter what you scribbled on the whiteboard in advance.

And as Tottenham toiled away in the second half, you kind of saw what he meant. Judged on many of the key metrics, Tottenham played on the front foot: pressing high, moving the ball quickly, creating openings, spending much of the game camped in the Eintracht half. But the final ball and the finish kept letting them down, and so the overall effect was not a feast of attacking football, but of a slightly laboured team beginning to second-guess themselves.

They remain well-placed to qualify from an open group, and the late appearance of the lesser-spotted Bryan Gil was a reminder that there is still untapped potential in this team, different possibilities, different options. For now, though, Conte seems locked in to this team, this style, this vibe. And for better or worse, Tottenham remain locked to him.