Pep Guardiola is widely regarded as the greatest manager of the 21st century and with multiple major honours to his name ranks as one of the most successful of all time.
Renowned for his tactical prowess, innovation, and relentless high standards, he is a truly imperious figure within the world of football with no shortage of memorable triumphs.
As he attempts a repeat of his historic treble with Manchester City in the last campaign, we look back at five of the greatest wins of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career so far.
Five of Pep Guardiola’s greatest managerial wins:
Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona – 2008/09 La Liga
After a successful stint with the Barcelona B team, Guardiola was given the top job in the summer of 2008, replacing Frank Rijkaard. He made an immediate impact on the squad as he offloaded a number of players who had been mainstays in previous years, most notably Ronaldinho, and brought in the likes of Dani Alves and Gerard Pique.
Guardiola wasted no time in implementing his possession-based style of football, drawing inspiration from his time playing under Johan Cruyff, and success soon followed.
In May 2009, Barcelona headed to the Bernabeu top of the table and with the chance to all but secure the league title, but nobody could have expected the emphatic nature of the result.
— LALIGA English (@LaLigaEN) May 2, 2020
It was Real Madrid who opened the scoring through Gonzalo Higuain, but just six minutes later Barca were leading 2-1 courtesy of Thierry Henry and captain Carles Puyol. From there they never looked back and the goals kept coming, including two from Lionel Messi in a season where he truly announced himself as one of the world’s best. Guardiola’s side tore their old rivals apart on their own ground, going on to record one of their greatest El Clasico victories of all time.
The 6-2 win was a standout result in what would go down as one of the greatest seasons in the club’s history. Just days later they advanced to the Champions League final, as Guardiola went on to lead Barcelona to a historic treble in his first season at the helm.
Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United – 2011 UCL Final
Two years after beating Manchester United 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League final to complete the treble, the sides met again at the same stage, with United looking for revenge.
However, with Guardiola in charge and Messi leading the line, Barca had established themselves as the most feared side in European football. The gulf between the sides was clear to see as Barcelona produced one of the most impressive and complete performances ever seen in a European Cup final.
💬 Sir Alex Ferguson: “No one has given us a hiding like that.” pic.twitter.com/QxLKFpQgVn
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 28, 2019
The score was level at half-time, with Wayne Rooney equalising for Manchester United after Pedro had opened the scoring, but Barca had shown a dominance in the first half which would continue into the second. Goals from Messi and David Villa secured Guardiola’s second Champions League triumph and in truth it could have been far more. Barca boasted 63% of possession and 19 shots on goal to United’s four.
Despite not being able to repeat the treble success of 2009, it is this Guardiola side which are often regarded as one of the best in history, led by the goalscoring phenomenon of Messi and boasting arguably the greatest midfield ever assembled in the form of Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
Southampton 0-1 Manchester City – 2017/18 Premier League
After a first season of adjustment in which Manchester City had finished third in the Premier League, Guardiola was determined to improve in his second campaign and truly impose himself in English football.
After a draw against Everton in their second game of the season, City went on to win a record 18 league matches in a row, gaining a stranglehold on top spot. After securing Guardiola’s first Premier League title with five games to spare, City didn’t let up as they had their eyes set on another accolade – breaking the 100-point barrier.
Heading into the final game of the season against Southampton on 97 points, only a win would be enough for City to achieve the feat. The Saints held firm though, frustrating the champions with a resolute display. Relentless as ever, they eventually made the breakthrough with a dramatic 94th-minute winner from Gabriel Jesus.
In becoming the first manager to guide his side to 100 points in a Premier League season, Guardiola had proved any doubters wrong as Manchester City’s centurions earned their place in the history books.
Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool – 2019/19 Premier League
After a procession to the Premier League title the previous season, City faced much stronger competition in their defence in the form of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Reds were top of the table at Christmas, with City hot on their heels. When the two teams met in January, it had all the makings of a potential title decider.
What unfolded was a pulsating game truly worthy of the billing, with both sides playing football of the very highest standard. Sergio Aguero lashed the ball into the roof of the net to open the scoring in the first half, before Roberto Firmino finished off an outstanding team goal to equalise for Liverpool in the second.
Leroy Sane restored City’s lead with a pinpoint finish and the Citizens held on for a vital three points. Perhaps the most memorable moment came in the first half, with John Stones making a miraculous goal-line clearance to deny Liverpool a vital goal, with the ball just 11mm from crossing the line.
It proved to be one of the most decisive moments of the season as City went on to pip Liverpool to the title with an incredible 98 points to 97. Guardiola’s rivalry with Klopp is arguably the defining one of his managerial career and their titanic title race in the 2018/19 season will go down as one of the greatest of modern times.
Football is often decided by small margins, but there have been none smaller than the 11mm which earned City this crucial victory, and ultimately the league title.
Manchester City 1-0 Inter Milan – 2022 UCL Final
Ever since their memorable first Premier League win in 2012, Manchester City’s sights have been firmly set on winning the Champions League. However, despite dominance in domestic competitions, European success continued to elude the club with just one final appearance coming alongside a catalogue of disappointments.
Having already secured both the FA Cup and Premier League titles in 2022/23, City were looking to become the first English side to win the treble since 1999. They came up against reigning champions Real Madrid in the semi-final and the tie appeared to be in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. An honourable place on this list goes to the return fixture at the Etihad, where City produced one of their finest performances of the Guardiola era, running out 4-0 winners.
After such an emphatic victory over Real Madrid, City were expected to make short work of Inter in the final, but the game proved to be a cagey affair. It was Rodri who scored the decisive goal, but Inter had chances to equalise and were unlucky not to score with Ederson making some crucial saves late on to see City over the line.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 15, 2023
The match itself may not have been a classic, but the result was a truly momentous one in Manchester City’s history, the culmination of a decade-long quest for European glory. It also marked Guardiola’s third Champions League triumph and second treble success, becoming the first manager to achieve the feat twice.
Read Also – Five of Jurgen Klopp’s greatest managerial wins