Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, achieved a significant management milestone this week when he surpassed a record set by Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United in the Champions League.
Guardiola managed City to a 3-1 group stage victory over RB Leipzig on Wednesday night, giving him 103 victories in all competitions in the elite level of European football, one more than Sir Alex throughout his famous 26-year United reign.
When his City team defeated Real Madrid 4-0 in the second leg of the semifinal last year, Guardiola became just the third coach in Champions League history (after Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti) to accumulate a century of victories. Then, as City defeated Internazionale in the final to secure a historic treble, Guardiola earned his 101st victory.
With a convincing 3-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade, Guardiola earned his 102nd managerial triumph, kicking off City’s defence of their European championship.
Only one coach in the history of the Champions League has amassed more victories overall than Guardiola, who needed one more victory to surpass the former United manager. City struck twice in the final 10 minutes of their match in Leipzig to secure the victory.
With 109 victories overall, Ancelotti leads the field and that number is likely expected to increase as Real Madrid maintains its perfect start to the 2023–24 Champions League season.
With 103 victories out of the 161 games he has supervised in the competition, Guardiola has won the title three times (twice with Barcelona and once with City). He has 30 Champions League triumphs with Barcelona, 23 with Bayern Munich, and 50 with City. Ferguson managed 190 games and won the Champions League twice; in contrast, Ancelotti has overseen 193 games and has won the title a record-tying four times.
Here are some of the more noteworthy triumphs he has engineered, taken from his outstanding Champions League resume.
This is the first of many.
With Guardiola’s promotion to the top position during the 2008–09 season, Barcelona entered a new era. Guardiola guided the Catalans to the treble in his first season as manager, despite the fact that he was technically a novice.
Having first qualified for the Champions League, Barca won their opening group match against Sporting CP by a score of 3-1 and went on to lose just once throughout the whole competition as Pep’s highly drilled, fashionable, and vivacious club advanced to the final. At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where Lionel Messi even scored a rare header, the transaction was then finalised as Manchester United was defeated 2-0.
Guardiola rebounded after losing to Jose Mourinho’s tenacious Inter over two legs in the 2009–10 semifinals. In fact, Barça came back to win the Champions League once again in 2010–11, which turned out to be Pep’s farewell campaign as manager at Camp Nou.
Barca were unstoppable the entire game, playing some of the most exquisite football ever seen. In the final at Wembley, Manchester United was once again the victim of a possession-based masterclass; the 3-1 triumph was so convincing that Sir Alex was compelled to praise Guardiola’s team as the finest he had ever faced.
Bayern on a roll
Guardiola never managed to win the Champions League with Bayern but he did reach the semifinals three times in his three years in Bavaria.
He tasted crushing disappointment in his first attempt, with old foes Real Madrid winning 4-0 at the Allianz Arena in the second leg to confirm their place in the final. In 2014-15, Bayern looked utterly ruthless from the outset, scoring freely throughout the early stages and even rampaging to a stunning 7-1 defeat of Roma in the group stage, and then serving up a 7-0 demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16. It was all looking so promising for Pep until he came up against his old team, Barcelona, in the semis where a 3-0 first-leg defeat ultimately proved to be an insurmountable hurdle for the Bundesliga giants.
In 2015-16, Bayern again made the final four, where they would be eliminated on away goals by Atletico Madrid. Three semifinal exits, all to Spanish clubs.
Rioting against Real
Manchester City knew they would need something special to defeat Real Madrid in the competition’s semifinals last season, and they delivered an outstanding performance that Guardiola himself cited as his greatest in the Champions League.
Indeed, City easily defeated Los Blancos at the Etihad with goals from Bernardo Silva (2), Manuel Akanji, and Julián lvarez sweeping them through to the final with a 4-0 victory after earning a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Bernabeu.
Finishing the project in Istanbul
Of course, failing to include the 2022–23 championship, in which City finally won the trophy they had anxiously pursued for at least a decade, would be negligent. A single, crucial goal from Rodri was enough to defeat Inter and give Guardiola the chance to give City their first taste of continental triumph since the 1969–1970 European Cup Winners’ Cup—as well as completing the triple.