Guardiola, during the game at the San Siro / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Guardiola has won top spot in the group stage in each of his four Champions League campaigns. With the victory at the San Siro against AC Milan (2-3), FC Barcelona have five consecutive finishes as group leaders. Besides Guardiola’s four top finishes, Rijkaard, in 2007/08, also led his team to first place in the Champions League group stage.

During Guardiola’s first season as a head manager at the Club, 2008/09, FC Barcelona secured top spot in Group C with a total of 13 points, edging out Sporting Lisbon by only one point. Furthermore, Barça, with 18 goals, outscored all other teams in the group stage; they finished with a goal difference of +10.

In 2009/10, Barça finished top of Group F with 11 points. Inter, two points behind Barça, finished second. Winning the group, however, was no easy task. Barça had to win their last game of the group stage against Dynamo Kiev to secure qualification to the Round of 16. Guardiola’s men were able to fight back from a 1-0 early deficit to win 1-2 in Ukraine, thus ensuring passage to the next round as group leaders.

Barça also took top spot in Group D last season with 14 points, 4 more than second place finisher, Copenhagen. Guardiola’s men mathematically secured group leadership when they beat Panathinaikos 0-3 in Greece. With their work done, the last game of the group stage against Rubin Kazan at the Camp Nou was rather meaningless.

This season, with the recent win over AC Milan at the San Siro, FC Barcelona, with a game in hand against BATE Borisov at the Camp Nou, have already secured top spot in Group H. Despite Milan’s loss, they will go on to play in the Round of 16. Viktoria Plzen, with four points, and BATE Borisov, with two, have been eliminated from the competition.

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