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UEFA Champions League

Top five managers with most Champions League semifinal appearances

Published at :April 22, 2023 at 12:28 AM
Modified at :April 22, 2023 at 12:28 AM
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Manav Chowdhury


These managers have been highly efficient in navigating the murky waters of the competition's knockout stages.

The UEFA Champions League is Europe's premier club competition, with the best football players, managers, and clubs from all over Europe competing for the trophy every year. Achieving success in this competition is usually seen by most players and managers as the pinnacle of achievements at the club level. Many football managers have achieved superstardom by leading their teams successfully in the Champions League.

Reaching the semifinal of the Champions League counts a lot for managers as it enhances their reputation significantly.  It is, however, an arduous task to reach the semifinal with the calibre of opposition that normally stands in the way of teams in the competition. Only the best managers lead their teams to reach the final of the Champions League, let alone win the competition.

Here is a list of five managers with the most Champions League final appearances.

5. Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid) - 6

Jupp Heynckes reached six semi-finals during spells at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, twice lifting the Champions League as a coach. The German guided Real Madrid to a drought-breaking Champions League title in 1997/98, overcoming disappointing domestic form to end the club’s 32-year wait for a European crown.

Heynckes also had three spells as Bayern Munich manager and twice reached the final as head coach of the Bundesliga giants, losing the 2012 showpiece to Chelsea on home soil before earning redemption the following season. Under Heynckes, Bayern reached the semi-finals of the 1988–89 UEFA Cup, the 1989–90 European Cup, and the 1990–91 European Cup. In each campaign, they were knocked out by the team which went on to win the competition.

4.  Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) - 7

No British manager has ever reached more UEFA Champions League semi-finals than Sir Alex Ferguson, whose illustrious career at Manchester United included seven appearances in the competition’s last four. Of those semi-finals, the Red Devils progressed in four, including reaching three finals in just four seasons between 2008 and 2011.

Sir Alex Ferguson won the Champions League for the first time during the 1998/99 season as United completed a historic Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble. He added a second European crown after beating Chelsea in the first all-Premier League final in 2008 but missed out on further success after final defeats to Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

Sir Alex with the Champions League trophy in 1999 (Credit: SNL)

3. Jose Mourinho (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid) - 8

The Portuguese have reached the stage with four different clubs - Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Madrid - while winning the trophy at the helm of Porto and Inter. Jose Mourinho built his reputation in the Champions League, rising to prominence after guiding an unfancied Porto to the ultimate success in 2003/04.

It remains the only time a team from outside Spain, England, Germany or Italy has been crowned European champions this century, with Mourinho having since reached a further seven semi-finals during spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He led Inter Milan to the Champions League in 2009/10, ending a 45-year wait for the Nerazzurri and completing the first continental treble in Italian football history.

2. Carlo Ancelotti (Juventus, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich) - 9

His nine semi-finals have come with Juventus, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, progressing to the final on five occasions. Ancelotti twice won the Champions League during his time with AC Milan, becoming one of seven men to have won the competition as both player and manager, having twice been crowned a European champion during his playing career with the Rossoneri. Ancelotti also led Real Madrid to the club’s fabled ‘La Decima’ triumph in 2013/14 and once again helped Real Madrid to win UCL for the 14th time.

Carlo Ancelotti hoists the Champions League Trophy (Credit: Real Madrid)

1. Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City) - 10

Guardiola reached the Champions League’s last four in each of his seven seasons during spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning the trophy on two occasions with the former. Guardiola reached the Champions League’s last four in each of his seven seasons during spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning the trophy on two occasions with the former.

Since being appointed as Manchester City manager in 2016 he has reached three further semi-finals, including progression last season before losing the showpiece to Chelsea in Porto.

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