UEFA Champions League: Ranking the 16 Managers Left in the Tournament
The Champions League is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, and it will be fiercely competitive this season as well. The competition, as well as the demands of the leagues, will be difficult to manage. Managers of all the top clubs in the world will be under pressure at some stage of the season for sure.
However, there are some of the world's best who can produce the best from their players in high-pressure situations, and it could lead to major trophies for the team.
The Champions League draw for the Round of 16 was announced on Friday, and there are some very interesting things to watch out in this tie.
All the 16 teams in the competitions have done well to deserve their place in this stage of the competition. But from here on, it will be very important for the managers to not lose games, especially home games, because a home defeat always has a higher chance of getting the team eliminated from the competition.
The draw for the competition is as follows:
Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow
FC Barcelona vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Arsenal vs. AC Milan
Inter Milan vs. Marseille
Chelsea vs. Napoli
Bayern Munich vs. FC Basel
All the teams left in the competition will be led by competitive managers, and here is a ranking of the managers of the 16 teams.
16. Heiko Vogel (FC Basel)
FC Basel managed to knock out one of the biggest teams in the competitions in Manchester United and went on to progress to the next stage of the competition.
Basel were initially managed by Fink at the start of the season, with Heiko Vogel as the assistant. However, Fink left and Vogel was appointed as the caretaker manager and given time to prove his credentials as the manager of the Swiss club.
It is difficult for an assistant manager to take over the reins as the manager of the same club, but Vogel has done well so far. His best moment came in beating the Red Devils to qualify for the next stages of the competition.
It is still a testing time for the new Basel boss and it is too early to judge him, but he faces a huge test as they meet Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. Vogel will hope that his team give their best and that they have a bit of luck in trying to get into the quarterfinals.
15. Robin Dutt (Bayer Leverkusen)
Bayer Leverkusen wasted a golden opportunity to finish at the top of the group by failing to beat Genk. Hence, they face the daunting prospect of meeting FC Barcelona in the Round of 16.
It will be a difficult task for the German club, but they will hope that they can put up a great fight against the current European champions. Manager Robin Dutt was appointed by the club after their former manager, Jupp Heynckes, was approached by Bayern Munich.
Though Dutt did an excellent job with SC Freiburg, he has yet to prove himself with Leverkusen as they lie sixth in the table with plenty of competition above him. It will difficult for the Indo-German to prove himself, but Dutt will hope that his team responds to the hard task in front of them in a positive way.
14. Remi Garde (Lyon)
Lyon appointed Remi Garde as the manager of the club in the summer and though it is a difficult period for the French club, Garde has done a decent job so far. He has gotten the best from some players like Gomis and will hope to do the same from some other talented players like Yoann Gourcuff, who has not produced his best form for Lyon.
The former Arsenal midfielder has grown into his role as the manager of the club and could take the club to greater heights in the future.
He has to be applauded for Lyon qualifying for the Round of 16 by winning 7-1 against Dinamo Zagreb and eliminating Ajax from the competition.
13. Leonid Slutsky (CSKA Moscow)
Leonid Slutsky is one of the least recognized managers in world football, but he has done a very solid job after taking over as the manager of CSKA Moscow. It is quite a big achievement for the Russian club to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, which they have done for the second time in three seasons.
CSKA Moscow have some quality players in their team like Seydou Doumbia, Alan Dzagoev and Keisuke Honda and do have the ability to provide good competition against the best sides in the world.
CSKA Moscow does face a very difficult task as they meet Real Madrid in the Round of 16, but they will try to put up a good fight against the favorites for this tie. Jose Mourinho's team will respect their opposition, and the home game for CSKA Moscow, which involves a long travel for the Spanish giants, will be the key for the Russian team to have any chance of qualifying.
12. Jorge Jesus (Benfica)
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus is another manager who has helped the team progress a lot since his arrival at the club. He won the Portuguese league with Benfica in the 2009-10 season and though rivals Porto have become stronger since, Jesus has done well to considerably strengthen the team for this season. The Portuguese club has a good passing style of play and some very talented players in the club.
With the quality in the team, he will aim to take his team a long way into the tournament and will believe that they do have the quality. After two very encouraging performances against Manchester United, they will undoubtedly have more belief and will look to play with the same belief throughout the rest of the tournament.
11. Luciano Spalletti (Zenit St. Petersburg)
Luciano Spalletti took over the reins at Zenit St. Petersburg in 2009, following a relatively successful spell at Roma. He has managed to enjoy success at the Russian club. Zenit are one of the biggest clubs in Russia; in Spalletti they have an astute manager who can help them go a long way in the Champions League.
They have a reasonably difficult draw against Benfica, but they will believe in their ability to win the big games. They do have some talented players like Alexander Kerzhakov and if they perform to the best of their abilities, they can defeat the Portuguese giants.
Spalletti is experienced enough to understand the difficulties involved in the tie, and it should be an interesting battle between two excellent managers. Both sides will fancy their chances to progress, which makes the tie interesting, and the performance in the home games could prove to be the difference.
10. Ivan Jovanovic (Apoel Nicosia)
Apoel Nicosia have been one of the surprise packages of this season, and much of the credit has to go to the manager, Ivan Jovanovic, for the progress they have made. He has been very impressive in his spell as the manager of the Cyprus-based club, and it is an achievement to just qualify for the Champions League coming from that league.
However, he has done even better than that; in a group containing the likes of FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit St. Petersburg, he helped them finish first in the group stage.
Though they will be the underdogs going into the game against Lyon, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate them because they have a very committed team led by an astute manager.
The achievements of the manager must be praised. In the future, he could go on to be the manager of a bigger club as well.
9. Claudio Ranieri (Inter Milan)
Claudio Ranieri has been through a number of high-pressure situations in his time as the manager of different clubs. He endured severe pressure during his time at Chelsea and Roma, but at Inter Milan he is trusted to do the rebuilding at the club.
The club were in the bottom half of the table when Ranieri took over, and though their previous dominance has not been recaptured, they have undoubtedly made progress under him and are in sixth place.
Also, they managed to qualify easily as the group toppers despite one or two embarrassing results, and Ranieri deserves praise for bringing stability to the club. It was always going to be a very difficult job for him, and he has managed to get the best out of some of the players who were under-performing before he took over.
8. Walter Mazzarri (Napoli)
Walter Mazzarri was appointed in 2009, and he has been very important in Napoli’s progress in the last couple of seasons. Napoli do have some very talented players like Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani, and Mazzarri has helped them progress individually and as a team. His tactics have been excellent in several games and he will be pleased with Napoli’s performance in the group stages where they knocked out Manchester City.
The 50-year-old tactician will come up against Chelsea and though it will be a difficult draw, he is sure to have belief in his team’s abilities. Mazzarri has made plenty of intelligent signings since his arrival at the club, and has been pivotal in taking the club forward.
7. Andre Villas-Boas (Chelsea)
Chelsea appointed Andre Villas-Boas following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, and the young manager from Portugal has faced a difficult time in his first few months as the manager of the Blues. The current Chelsea team still has several stalwarts from the Jose Mourinho era, and it is difficult to bring in a new philosophy or style of play to the team.
He has brought in some good players like Raul Meireles and Juan Mata, but they have not been consistent enough this season, which has led to frustration from Villas-Boas on several occasions. The Blues manager is bound to have his critics, but he did achieve a lot in his only season at Porto and could yet set the foundations for a modern Chelsea.
The Blues do have a strong opponent in the next round of the competition in the form of Serie A side Napoli, who managed to knock out Manchester City to qualify for this stage. It would be a huge mistake to underestimate Napoli because of the quality in their ranks.
Chelsea's performances in the European competition could be a huge factor in deciding whether or not Villas-Boas can be successful at Chelsea, where owner Roman Abramovich has sacked several managers in the past.
6. Didier Deschamps (Marseille)
Marseille manager Didier Deschamps has been successful both as a manager and as a player. He has been the manager of the club since 2009.
Deschamps has to be credited immensely for his team's stunning fight back in the second half against Borussia Dortmund to win the game and seal their place in the group stage of the competition. Though they have had a slow start to the season, they have consolidated on their results, and they will hope for more consistency in the latter half of the season.
The French team have a difficult draw against Inter Milan, who have had problems of their own this season. But with many quality players in his side, Deschamps will have the belief that they can knock out the Italian side. Though they are still some way off the league table currently, they do have the ability to at least qualify for the Champions League again if they have a strong finish this season.
5. Massimiliano Allegri (AC Milan)
Massimiliano Allegri was appointed as the manager of Milan in 2010, and led the club to a title victory in his first season in charge. He has shown that he has the ability to make difficult decisions off the pitch and did make a number of excellent moves in the season.
Even this season, Milan did not have a great start but he has steadied the ship, and they have had an excellent set of results recently as they challenge for the title.
It will be an interesting tussle between the tactics of Arsene Wenger and Allegri in the Round of 16. Allegri has shown that he is one of the most capable managers in the world, and he will dream of achieving glory in the Champions League with the current Milan side.
4. Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich)
Jupp Heynckes was appointed as the manager of Bayern Munich at the start of the season after a good spell as the manager of Bayer Leverkusen. The current Munich manager is very adept in the modern game and has brought a lot of stability to the team. He has also encouraged the growth of younger players in the team like Toni Kroos, who is a player with immense potential.
Bayern Munich are one of the best teams remaining in the competition and will hope that they can win the elite tournament, though it will be hard for them as well.
Heynckes has done an excellent job in his first few months as the manager of Bayern Munich as he has strengthened their defensive skills while retaining their flair in attack. Bayern could go a long way in the tournament.
3. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Arsenal have endured a very difficult start to the season but in Arsene Wenger, they have one of the best and most experienced managers in the world. The French tactician has calmed things down, and the Gunners have managed to have a sort of a revival and have qualified for the Round of 16 as the group winners.
Wenger managed to make some intelligent signings in the summer and brought in experience by signing the likes of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker.
Though Arsenal are not the favourites in the Champions League, they do have some quality players in the team and with the return of Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna from injury, they will have a strong unit capable of challenging the best.
2. Pep Guardiola (FC Barcelona)
Pep Guardiola has to be considered as one of the world’s best managers, considering his achievements with his impressive Barcelona team in the last three seasons. He has brought plenty of success to the club and has also guided the team to win two Champions League titles in three years.
With the Blaugrana possessing a remarkably good team this year, there is no reason why they should not win the title this year as well.
The appointment of the former midfielder as the manager of the club must be considered as one of the best possible decisions by the Barcelona board. Guardiola has brought plenty of honours to the club, he shares an excellent rapport with his players and has brought out the best from both the young and experienced players.
1. Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)
Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers in the last decade, and he is one of the very few managers to win the Champions League with two different clubs. He has a difficult task at Real Madrid, who will challenge FC Barcelona in every competition, including Europe’s elite competition.
The Portuguese tactician is an excellent man-manager and regularly gets the best from his players.
Though he does face a tough task in defeating Barcelona, he will relish the challenge because he is a very hard competitor. However, Florentino Perez made him the manager because of his consistent success with other clubs, and his teams generally perform better in the second season.
Though Real Madrid lost the El Clasico at home, they still have a three-point gap over their rivals. Also, Mourinho is an inspirational manager and will hope to win the Champions League with this Madrid side.