History beckons for European master Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini has a proud record in Europe, and could yet end his valedictory campaign at Manchester City as one of only three non-European coaches to lift the trophy.

Manuel Pellegrini is leaving City at the end of the season
Manuel Pellegrini is leaving City at the end of the season ©Getty Images

This is Manuel Pellegrini's ninth European campaign and whether Manchester City win or lose against Real Madrid on Wednesday, his impressive record in continental competition continues.

The 62-year-old has never failed to lead his side through to the knockout rounds. That is perhaps par for the course at Real Madrid, whom he guided to the last 16 in 2009/10, but not for Villarreal and Málaga, nor necessarily for Manchester City.

In the UEFA Champions League his record is seven out of seven, with this season's run to the last four matching his personal best set at Villarreal on that club's competition debut in 2005/06. Pellegrini admits the pain of their semi-final defeat, when Juan Riquelme missed a late penalty which would have forced extra time, endures a decade on.

First-leg highlights
First-leg highlights

"It was not just the famous penalty miss from Riquelme against Arsenal," he recalled recently. "We had some really clear chances too. And we had just beaten eventual winners Barcelona 3-0 in the Liga. We were the best team around at the time." Pellegrini wants no such regrets after Wednesday's second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Win and he will remain on course to join a surprisingly exclusive group of non-European coaches to have lifted the continent's premier club cup. It currently comprises only two members, both fellow Argentinians: Luis Carniglia (Real Madrid in 1958 and 1959) and Helenio Herrera (Internazionale in 1964 and 1965).

1965: The last Argentinian success
1965: The last Argentinian success

Who knows? Another Argentine in Diego Simeone could make it a head-to-head to complete the hat-trick if Atlético Madrid are City's opponents in the final.

Pellegrini's European campaigns
2004/05, Villarreal: UEFA Cup quarter-finals
2005/06, Villarreal: UEFA Champions League semi-finals
2007/08, Villarreal: UEFA Cup round of 32
2008/09, Villarreal: UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
2009/10, Real Madrid: UEFA Champions League round of 16
2012/13, Málaga: UEFA Champions League quarter-finals
2013/14, Manchester City: UEFA Champions League round of 16
2014/15, Manchester City: UEFA Champions League round of 16
2015/16, Manchester City: UEFA Champions League semi-finals (minimum)