Lampard, Klopp, Solskjaer: Ranking every Champions League manager by their playing careers

Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in action for Man United and Chelsea

The Champions League returns on Tuesday evening, with Manchester City among the teams in action.

Pep Guardiola's side will face Olympiacos at the Etihad Stadium having won each of their opening two Champions League group games.

The Spaniard is arguably the greatest manager ever and he'll be looking to win his third Champions League title.

But how does his playing career match up with the other 31 managers in the Champions League group stage?

That's a question we answered last year. 

And we've decided to do it again for the 2020/21 season. We've ranked every Champions League group stage manager by their playing careers from worst to best below.

=31. Murad Musayev | Krasnador

Musayev did not play professional football.

=31. André Villas-Boas | Marseille

Villas-Boas did not play professional football.

Andre Villas-Boas

30. Marko Nikolić | Lokomotiv Moscow

Nikolic spent time in the Serbian third tier on loan at Dorćol before retiring through injury.

29. Julian Nagelsmann | Leipzig

Nagelsmann played youth football at FC Augsburg and 1860 Munich but persistent knee injuries forced him to retire before he made a professional appearance.

28. Julien Stéphan | Rennes

Little is known about Stephan's playing career, but he did spend time at Toulouse, RC Paris, Stade Briochin and Drouais.

27. Thomas Tuchel | Paris Saint-Germain

Tuchel's best spell as a professional footballer came at German third-tier side, SSV Ulm.

He was a mainstay for Ulm for four years but was forced to retire at the age of 25 after suffering a chronic knee injury.

PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel

26. Luís Castro | Shakhtar

Castro spent much of his career in Portugal's lower leagues, but did play for Vitória S.C. and Elvas in the Primeira Liga.

With the latter, Castro played 28 times in the 1987/88 season as his side were relegated from Portugal's top tier.

25. Jesse Marsch | Salzburg

Marsch spent his entire career in the MLS, featuring for D.C. United, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA.

He made 331 appearances across 13 years, scoring 31 times.

Marsch won the MLS Cup on three occasions and made two appearances for the United States.

24. Marco Rose | Gladbach

Rose played for Leipzig and Hannover before joining Jurgen Klopp at Mainz 05 in 2002.

He helped them reach promotion to the Bundesliga in his first year at the club. He made 150 appearances in the league across across an eight-year spell.

23. Jurgen Klopp | Liverpool

Klopp confesses he wasn't very good at all, but we think he's been a little harsh on himself.

He spent the large majority of his playing days in the German second tier with Mainz 05, where he played for 11 years.

He retired as their record goal scorer, notching 56 times in total.

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp

22. Gian Piero Gasperini | Atalanta

Gasperini started his career at Juventus but he never made the grade.

He spent the early parts of his career in Italy's lower leagues, playing five seasons for Palermo in Serie B from 1978-1983.

The Italian midfielder finally got the chance to play in the Serie A with Pescara after helping them win promotion in 1987.

He made 469 appearances in his career, scoring just once.

21. Erik ten Hag | Ajax

Ten Hag made 336 appearances during his playing career, most of which came for Twente.

He helped them to a KNVB Cup triumph in 2001.

20. Lucien Favre | Dortmund

Favre spent much of his career in Switzerland playing with Servette, although he did spend a solitary season with Toulouse.

He played 24 times for Switzerland, scoring once.

Dortmund manager, Lucien Favre

19. Mircea Lucescu | Dynamo Kiev

Lucescu had a good career in Romania with Dinamo București.

He was capped 70 times by his country and helped his club side win six league titles.

18. Brian Priske | FC Midtjylland

Priske, a defender, spent a season at Portsmouth in the Premier League during the noughties.

He also played for Club Brugge, Genk and AaB. He earned 24 caps for Denmark.

17. Pedro Martins | Olympiacos

Martins started his career at Feirense, before moving on to Vitória S.C. and then Sporting Lisbon.

The fact he made one appearance for Portugal means he must have been a decent player.

16. Julen Lopetegui | Sevilla

Lopetegui, a goalkeeper, is one of a few players that can claim to have played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona.

He wasn't successful at either club, though. The Spaniard spent most of his career in La Liga with Rayo.

He managed one appearance for Spain, coming in 1994.

Sevilla manager, Julen Lopetegui

15. Philippe Clement | Club Brugge

After impressing in a three-season stint with Genk, Clement moved to Premier League outfit Coventry in 1998.

The defender failed in England but then went on to become a legend at Club Brugge as he made 256 appearances across 10 seasons.

Clement played 38 times for Belgium, scoring once.

14. Hans-Dieter Flick | Bayern Munich

Flick made 104 appearances for Bayern from 1985-1990, helping the German side win four Bundesliga titles.

He moved to Koln before retiring from professional football through injuries at the age of 28.

13. Sergei Semak | Zenit

Semak made a name for himself at CSKA Moscow, where he scored 69 times in 289 games.

He went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain before ending his career with Zenit.

Semak played 65 times for Russia, scoring on four occasions.

Sergei Semak

12. Okan Buruk | Istanbul Başakşehir

Buruk won seven league titles with Galatasary in what was a successful playing career.

He made 56 appearances for Turkey and also spent time at Inter Milan and Besiktas.

11. Simone Inzaghi | Lazio

Simone wasn't as good as his brother, Filippo, but he still enjoyed a decent career.

He spent the majority of his career at Lazio, scoring 54 goals in 179 games.

10. Serhiy Rebrov | Ferencváros

Rebrov had a very good career, having spent time at Tottenham, West Ham and Dynamo Kyiv.

He scored 15 times in 75 games for Ukraine.

Serhiy Rebrov in action for Ukraine

9. Sérgio Conceição | Porto

Despite a successful career, Conceição was a bit of a journeyman, featuring for 10 different clubs.

He won six trophies with Lazio, including Serie A, as well as three Primeira Liga titles. He also made 56 appearances for Portugal, scoring 12 times.

8. Antonio Conte | Inter Milan

Conte signed for Juventus from Leece for €3.60m in 1996 and he would justify that price tag in a highly successful spell.

He helped Juventus to 13 major honours, including five Serie A titles and a Champions League victory in 1996.

He made 20 appearances for Italy.

7. Diego Simeone | Atletico Madrid

Simeone made his name in Spain with Sevilla before moving to Atletico Madrid in 1994.

He helped the club to a domestic double in 1996 as they lifted the Copa del Rey and La Liga.

He would then have success with Inter, before winning the treble with Lazio in 2000.

The defensive midfielder also made his mark on the international stage, appearing 106 times for his country and winning two Copa America's.

Diego Simeone in action for Lazio

6. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer | Man United

Solskjaer is one of the best finishers that the Premier League has ever seen. He spent 11 years at Man United, helping them win 12 trophies.

Known for his ability to score after coming off the bench, the Norwegian scored 126 times in 366 games for United.

Unfortunately, knee injuries curtailed his career and stopped him from achieving even more.

5. Pep Guardiola | Man City

Guardiola was a very classy player. He spent 11 years at Barcelona, where he won six La Liga titles and a European Cup.

He also made 47 appearances for Spain and was named in the Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament.

Pep Guardiola in action for Barcelona

4. Ronald Koeman | Barcelona

Koeman scored a ridiculous 253 goals during his career, despite being a defensive minded player.

He enjoyed great success in Holland with Ajax and PSV and Spain with Barcelona.

He won two European Cups - one each with PSV and Barcelona - as well as eight league titles across his career.

The Dutchman was also named in the Team of the Tournament as he helped his country win Euro 1988.

3. Andrea Pirlo | Juventus

Pirlo could do things with a football that people can only dream of. He was the definition of cool: he possessed incredible technical ability and it was almost impossible to get the ball off him.

He was extremely successful during his time at AC Milan and Juventus. He won six Serie A titles in his career and two Champions League's.

The elegant midfielder also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006.

Andrea Pirlo in action for AC Milan

2. Frank Lampard | Chelsea

Lampard is one of the best goal scoring midfielders ever.

After impressing in a six-season stint with West Ham, Lampard made the move to Chelsea in 2001.

He would become arguably their greatest ever player across a 13-season spell, scoring a ridiculous 211 goals in 648 games.

The Englishman won three Premier League titles and a Champions League with the Blues.

1. Real Madrid | Zinedine Zidane

Pirlo, Koeman and Lampard were all brilliant. But Zidane was in a league of his own.

Zidane is a legend at Juventus, Real Madrid and for France, where he made 108 appearances and helped them to the Euro 2000 title.

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