The best coaches from the Champions League round of 16

The best coaches from the Champions League round of 16

Football is a game of fine margins because of the coaches. These tacticians who rack their brains to create systems that win hold all the cards.

This is why the best players can sometimes look like amateurs in one system and like a reincarnation of the football gods.

It is especially important in competitions of very fine margins like the UEFA Champions League that the coach can plan and delegate players to execute tactics to the team.

With the quarter-finals of the 2023/24 season commencing soon, here are our top picks for the best managers from the previous round.

Pep Guardiola

Having held the title officially and unofficially of the “best manager in the world” for almost a decade now, Pep Guardiola being on this list is no surprise.

Manchester City is the only club in the ongoing season with an unbeaten record. They have a 100% win record over all their opponents from the group stage till the quarters, a period spanning eight home and away games.

In addition, their round of 16 home and away victories over FC København saw them reach 21 games unbeaten in the UEFA Champions League

Guardiola’s vast experience came into play over the relatively young Jacob Neestrup and he was able to bypass the Dane’s set-up for a zonal press in both games.

Guardiola also instructed his attackers to keep rotating which also pulled København’s defence out of shape. This allowed them to find spaces which they exploited to great effect.

But for some great individual plays of the Danish club’s players and poor finishing from some Man City players, the 6 – 2 aggregate scoreline could have been more.

Guardiola’s next hurdle is Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. Carlo Ancelotti will be his opponent this time around.

Real Madrid vs Manchester City tickets for their 9 April 2024 clash and Manchester City vs Real Madrid tickets for their 17 April clash are up on sale on the trusted ticket reselling platform,

Read Also: Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho Stats

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique is one of two treble winners and one of four coaches with a Barcelona past left in the Champions League.

Having won the competition in the past as Barcelona’s manager, Enrique is one of the remaining managers with UCL title-winning experience.

He had the MSN trio back then – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – but now, he has Kylian Mbappe, who is arguably as dangerous as all three combined.

The Frenchman is currently on course to claim either or both the best player and the best forward award for this season’s competition with his exploits and it is all thanks to how Enrique has deployed him this season.

He is only two goals away from matching his most prominent season and three goals away from surpassing it. Coincidentally, his most prominent season was 2020/21, when PSG faced Barcelona.

Luis Enrique returns to Barcelona for the first time in seven years in the quarter-final stages. Fans are looking forward to seeing how he fares against the Catalan giants, who he has not faced since leaving them in 2017.

PSG vs Barcelona tickets for their 10 April 2024 clash and Barcelona vs PSG tickets for their 16 April 2024 clash are selling out fast on the ticket-reselling platform

Luis Enrique’s strategy is more than Mbappe, but the Frenchman will be key to his success in that clash.

Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has done well for himself as a first-time UEFA Champions League knockout manager.

Many have claimed that his managerial style is similar to Pep Guardiola’s and it is not difficult to draw the comparisons.

Both managers played together at Barcelona and went on to enjoy a good relationship as manager and coach for four years. Two of those years ended up in Champions League glory with one being part of a treble.

However, Xavi has other facets to his game that have helped him get this far in the competition this season. Like his coaching of how to manipulate tight spaces and time runs to devastating effect.

This was seen in Fermin Lopez’s movements which pulled the Napoli midfield and defence away from their marks. The 20-year-old midfielder scored Barcelona’s first goal in the second leg to send them 2 – 1 up on aggregate with this tactic and used these runs to aid in the other two goals that Barcelona scored on the night.

He also looks to be working closely with İlkay Gündoğan who resembles him as a player. The German midfielder’s ability to sit deep and pull Napoli’s players out of position with well-timed runs (again) and passes has helped them survive in the competition so far.

His next challenge is his former boss, Luis Enrique. It will be a clash for the ages.

Edin Terzic

Edin Terzic has taken Borussia Dortmund to the quarter-final of the Champions League for the first time in six seasons. This has earned him cult hero status among Die Schwarzgelben fans.

One of the reasons he has been able to succeed this season is his doing away with fear. Terzic is regarded as a good game analyst but his shortcomings of trying to see out a game with the same set of players or making very late substitutions, which all stem from a fear of changing systems in-game, held his Dortmund team back in the past.

The German has switched formations and players quite often and this has helped his team stay fresh in every Champions League game. It has also helped him defend early goals and remain stable enough to see out wins.

As a trained scout, Edin Terzic can spot players who can cause the most damage and create tactics to mitigate that damage. He is still inexperienced compared to the other managers left – Xavi and Mikel Arteta included – but his expertise gives him a boost in this competition.

Dortmund face Atlético de Madrid in the quarter-finals. Atlético Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund tickets for their 10 April 2024 clash and Borussia Dortmund vs Atlético Madrid tickets for their 16 April clash are already on sale.

Edin Terzic vs Diego Simeone is a clash that is worth watching.

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