There have been disappointments for some of Europe’s biggest names this summer. Atletico Madrid are without a coach, while French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco had to hand coaching duties to talented second-tier coaches for the Champions League qualifiers, forcing them to feature lower down the pecking order in what has proved to be a rather thankless task.
Paris Saint-Germain find themselves at a disadvantage, however, after their coach, Unai Emery, was sacked in April. The Parc des Princes club had a simple decision: appoint former Arsenal and Spain coach Carlo Ancelotti, who led PSG to the Ligue 1 title in 2009 and the Champions League two years later. The Italian tactician was the perfect solution for a club that needed to replace an important leader after the disaster of the Laurent Blanc era. The choice paid off, at least so far, as PSG advanced in the second round of the Champions League with a 7-2 aggregate win over St Gallen, the Swiss club that had shocked them 2-1 in Switzerland last week.
Meanwhile, Serie A champion Juventus were also victorious, beating Basel 4-0 on aggregate, after the Swiss side stunned the Italian champions 2-1 on the away goals rule in the first-leg of the qualifying tie. The second leg had been played in Switzerland, and a late goal by Juventus’ Dutch captain, Arjen Robben, set off scenes of wild celebration inside the Allianz Stadium.
Roma, runners-up last season, overcame the standard three-time winners Barcelona to reach the Champions League second round for the first time since 2009. The Serie A champions drew 2-2 at Camp Nou and on aggregate, thanks to goals by Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi missed a penalty in the first half but was also on target in the second half with a remarkable one-touch volley after a goalmouth scramble.
The draw for the last 16 will take place on Aug. 16. For the Ligue 1 version, the draw will take place on Aug. 10, with many European fans looking forward to the return of Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich to their former stomping ground: the Allianz Arena.