In honor of the start of another Champions League season, we recall the top-tier managers the tournament has eluded. Some of them still have a chance to seize the trophy.
Diego Simeone (Atlético Madrid)
Simeone led Atlético to the Champions League final twice and lost to Real Madrid on both occasions. In 2014, a historic goal by Sergio Ramos in the 93rd minute (92:48!) settled matters, while in 2016, Atlético lost only in a penalty shootout (3:5). “Two finals in three years is a great achievement for Atlético, but it doesn’t make me happy,” Simeone admitted.
A new challenge is right now, in a group with Lazio, Feyenoord, and Celtic. If you believe in the chances of the Madrid team, you can bet on their matches using the te apuesto app.
Arsène Wenger (Monaco, Arsenal)
Wenger won all domestic trophies with Arsenal, had an unbeaten season, but never clinched victory in Europe’s premier tournament. He came closest in 2006 when facing Barcelona in the final.
In that match, Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann, received the first red card in UCL finals for fouling Samuel Eto’o. Arsenal even led 1:0, but in the end conceded twice. Later, Wenger would say that VAR could’ve disallowed Barcelona’s first goal: “There was an offside, and we were leading 1:0 with 30 minutes to go. You know what I lack, so this episode is the most significant.”
Valeriy Lobanovskyi (Dynamo Kyiv)
In April 1977, Dynamo Kyiv played in the European Cup semi-final against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Lobanovskyi’s team won the first leg 1:0, but lost the return leg 0:2 due to a referee’s mistake. The ball struck Borussia defender Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp’s hand, but no penalty was given. The Germans advanced to the final (where they lost to Liverpool 3:1).
Lobanovskyi’s Dynamo also reached the UCL semi-final in 1998/99 against Bayern Munich. Andriy Shevchenko scored twice in the first half, and Vitaliy Kosovskyi added a third – 3:1. Dynamo was on track for a convincing victory, but Stefan Effenberg and Carsten Jancker equalized. In the return leg, only Mario Basler scored, and Dynamo missed out on the final, while Munich conceded two late goals to Manchester United.
Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan, Juventus)
Allegri reached the Champions League final twice in three years, losing to Spanish teams on both occasions. In 2015, Juventus couldn’t stop the formidable trio of Messi-Suarez-Neymar, and in 2017 they were thrashed by Real Madrid with a Cristiano Ronaldo brace.
A somber aggregate of 2:7 in the finals instead of lifting the UCL trophy. “Only a select few get to hold this trophy above their head. Such feats don’t happen every year,” the coach humbly stated.
Mircea Lucescu (Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv)
The Romanian manager has 115 matches in the main round of the UCL. Lucescu’s teams seldom progressed past the group stages, but he does have knockout stage experience – having reached the quarter-finals with Inter, Galatasaray, and Shakhtar.
Didier Deschamps (Monaco, Marseille)
The French coach reached the Champions League final with his very first club – Monaco. At that time, the on-loan from Real Madrid Fernando Morientes particularly shone, becoming the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals. In the end, Monaco faced off against the powerful Porto of Jose Mourinho.
However, Deschamps still knows what it feels like to win the UCL – he’s won it twice as a player. First with Marseille, and then with Juventus.
Unai Emery (Valencia, Sevilla, PSG, Villarreal)
Emery collects Europa League victories: three with Sevilla and one with Villarreal, but in the Champions League, he hasn’t reached the same heights.
In 2017, his PSG infamously crashed out against Barcelona (1:6) in the Round of 16, and in 2022, Emery reached the UCL semi-finals for the first time, remarkably with the modest Villarreal. En route, the Spaniards knocked out both Juventus and Bayern. They held out for a long time in the semi-finals but eventually lost 2:5 on aggregate to Liverpool.
Antonio Conte (Juventus, Chelsea, Inter, Tottenham)
Conte is effective in national championships (four Serie A titles, one in the EPL), but has struggled in the UCL. He’s faced two Round of 16 exits with Chelsea and Tottenham, and one quarter-final exit with Juventus.
Roberto Mancini (Lazio, Inter, City, Galatasaray)
Mancini, as a coach, debuted in the UCL with Lazio in the 2003/04 season – they didn’t advance past the group stage. The following season, Roberto took over Inter and immediately led them to the quarter-finals – losing to Milan.
In the 2005/06 season, Inter under Mancini again reached the quarter-finals – stumbling against the surprising Villarreal. With the Milan club, Roberto made it to the playoffs once more, but with Man City, he never progressed beyond the group stage. The last time Mancini coached a team in the UCL was in the 2013/14 season – taking Galatasaray to the Round of 16.