Which manager will hoist the Champions League trophy this season?by Jack Kitson / 25 August 2016, 13:54Tweet
Ahead of tonight’s (Thursday) eagerly anticipated Champions League group stage draw we take a look at five of the top bosses in contention to hoist Europe’s most coveted trophy in what is the 62nd edition of the continents showpiece spectacle.
Four of the 32 managers in this competition have won the Champions League: Carlo Ancelotti (3), Pep Guardiola (2), Luis Enrique (1), and most recently Zinedine Zidane (1), who led Real Madrid to glory last season. The quadruple unsurprisingly features on the list below, along with Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone who has finished runner-up in two of the last three seasons.
Luis Enrique (Barcelona)
Barcelona head into this year’s competition as the 3/1 favourites (Sky Bet) to taste success for the second time in three seasons, and fifth time in 12 years. In his debut 2014/15 campaign Luis Enrique led the Catalan club to a stunning treble, and while they couldn’t repeat that incredible feat last term, the Spanish giants still won the league and cup double.
At his disposal Enrique has the most envied frontline in world football - Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - and as usual Barca will be expected to waltz through to the group stages (as they have done in each of the last dozen seasons), before attempting to swat away every team in their path during in the knockout stages.
Yes, Enrique is managing one of the best teams in history, but a gargantuan haul of eight trophies in two seasons is exceptional, and if his troops beat Athletic Bilbao on Sunday then the Spaniard has amassed a truly remarkable 100 wins in just 126 matches at the helm. Let that sink in for a minute.
Carlo Ancelotti (Bayern Munich)
No manager has hoisted more European Cups than the legendary Carlo Ancelotti, who has a hat-trick of successes with AC Milan (twice) and Real Madrid. The Italian will now be bidding to stand alone as the only boss in history to triumph a staggering four times - Bob Paisley also has three victories - while in the process he can become the only man to be victorious with three different clubs.
Earlier in the summer Ancelotti replaced Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. Under the Spaniard the German giants dominated domestically, but agonisingly fell short in the Champions League semi-finals in each of the last three seasons.
Ancelotti, who has already won the German Super Cup, has the experience and pedigree to lead The FCB to European glory this season, with the German giants a best-priced 9/2 (Betfair) to grab 3rd spot (outright) in the all-time club winners list - they are currently tied on five with Barcelona and Liverpool.
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)
Zinedine Zidane became a Real Madrid legend during his five-year bout as a player, spearheading the famous Galacticos revolution. Then, as a manager, it then only took the Frenchman five months to elevate his iconic status to new heights, after leading Los Blancos to a historic 11th Champions league success, which was followed by Super Cup success earlier this month.
Remarkably Zidane could now be set to become the first manager (in the Champions League era: 1992/93-) to win the competition back-to-back. In fact, no team has either achieved this feat either, with Real Madrid priced at 11/2 (Betfair) to add this deed to their lengthy list of accomplishments.
In past years Real have been all about individual brilliance, but under Zidane the team has thrived as a collective unit, working together to achieve success. This season expectation levels have been raised even further, and with expectation comes pressure, and while Zizou’s legendary status at Real is unquestioned, a splattering of poor results would truly test his nerve in the dugout.
Pep Guardiola (Man City)
Pep Guardiola sits in an elite group of seven managers who have won the Champions League multiple times - since 1992 - following his brace of successes with Barcelona (2009 & 2011). During four fruitful years in charge of Barca the Spaniard went from a managerial novice to one of the stand-out figures in his field.
Guardiola then had a year out before returning to the dugout with Bayern Munich three years ago. The 45-year-old was tasked with leading his new side to glory in Europe, however they agonisingly fell short at the semi-final hurdle on each occasion.
Guardiola will still be remembered fondly at Bayern - the club dominated domestically winning 3 league titles and 2 German Cups - but being the perfectionist that he is, the club’s failure to win the Champions League during his tenure will bite away at him.
Now in England with Man City Guardiola will be doubly determined to lead the Citizens to European glory for the first time in the club’s history (12/1 Bet365). However, this season may come a bit too early for this goal, although confidence is high after the club progressed through to the semi-finals last term.
Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
Diego Simeone is the only man on this list not to have won the Champions League, but if they handed out medals for effort, determination and passion then he’d be top of the pile. The Argentine has heartbreakingly finished runner-up in two of the last three seasons, both times to Real Madrid - once in extra-time, then on penalties last term.
Simeone is constantly being linked with a move way from the Spanish capital, but has remained loyal to a club he’s meticulously organised into one of the most feared in the continent. Under Simeone Atletico are desperately difficult to beat - just ask Barcelona - and they look a decent price at 14/1 to finally get their hands on the elusive trophy, and in the process get one over their neighbours.