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Champions League

Which coaches have played the most times in the Champions League semi-finals?

Pep Guardiola will match his old foe José Mourinho’s record for Champions League semi-final appearances when Manchester City host Real Madrid.

Guardiola to match Mourinho's Champions League record.

Pep Guardiola will match his old foe José Mourinho for the Champions League record of most appearances as a manger when Manchester City host Real Madrid at the Etihad on Tuesday night. The Portuguese provocateur currently stands alone at the top of the list of coaches with the highest number of European Cup / Champions League managerial appearances, but will be matched by his old sparring partner Guardiola when City and Madrid go toe-to-toe again.

Mourinho has eight Champions League semi-finals to his name, with two tournament victories at Porto and Inter. Curiously, when Mourinho was at clubs with more spending power than the Portuguese and Italian sides, he fell short in every semi-final he reached, three with Chelsea (two of them lost to a pre-Jürgen Klopp Liverpool) and three with Real Madrid.

Mourinho and Guardiola’s Madrid-Barça rivalry

One of the semis Mourinho failed to win while at the Bernabéu was the infamous 2010-11 double-header against Guardiola’s Barça, which will be remembered more for the vile tempers on display on and off the pitch as much as Leo Messi’s spectacular late double in the opening leg. Mourinho had deployed Pepe as a midfield destroyer – the Portuguese was inevitably sent off – and that game preceded Mourinho’s eye-poke in Tito Vilanova during the Spanish Super Cup later the same year as relations between the club reached rock bottom.

Barça went on to the win the 2010-11 Champions League, which remains Guardiola’s final success in Europe’s elite club competition. After leaving Barça at the end of the following season, Guardiola took a year off than then reappeared at Bayern Munich, where he reached three consecutive Champions League semi-finals but failed to reach another final with the Bundesliga giants. His first was a demoralizing 5-0 aggregate defeat against Real Madrid in 2013-14, which also included his first-ever defeat at the Bernabéu. The following season he was beaten 5-3 on aggregate by his former side Barça and in his final campaign at the Allianz Arena, Atlético edged a tight contest on away goals.

Guardiola seeking first Champions League since leaving Barcelona

Now, five seasons after joining Manchester City ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, Guardiola has another opportunity to reach the Champions League final, more than a decade after his last triumph and with the possibility of becoming the fourth manager to win the European Cup / Champions League three times and only the second, after Ancelotti, to do so with two different clubs.

Still, Mourinho retains the upper hand in one respect: the Portuguese, along with Alex Ferguson and Jupp Heynckes, jointly holds the record for the most UEFA club competition semi-finals as coach with 10.

Managers with most European Cup / Champions League semi-finals

  • 8 Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City)
  • 8 José Mourinho (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid)
  • 7 Carlo Ancelotti (Juventus, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich)
  • 7 Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
  • 6 Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich, Real Madrid)
  • 6 Miguel Muñoz (Real Madrid)
  • 5 Helenio Herrera (Barcelona, Inter Milan)
  • 5 Louis van Gaal (Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich)

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