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10 Teams to Manage to a Champions League Title on FM22


10 Teams to Manage to a Champions League Title on FM22

Can you win the Champions League with a side outside the “Big Five” leagues on FM22?

Since its rebranding in 1992/93, a season which has defined & shaped modern football for either the good, the bad or both, the UEFA Champions League has grown into the most prestigious club competition in world football. However, one of several criticisms of the competition has been how sides from outside Europe’s proclaimed “Big Five” leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) now struggle to reach the latter stages of the competition, let alone win it.

FC Porto were the last non-big five league winner of the competition in 2003/04. In 2019/20, not a single team from outside the big five leagues made it to the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since the group stage format of the competition was introduced. However, here is where you come in, can you win the Champions League on Football Manager 2022 with any of these 10 teams? There is no time limit for this challenge; however, all of these sides are in the group stage of the 2021/22 edition or the qualification rounds to make the group stage.

Sporting CP

Sporting FM22

The first club in this challenge comes from Portugal, and it is the third-most successful Portuguese club when it comes to titles won, Sporting CP. Founded in 1906, Leoes (The Lions), as they are commonly known amongst their fan base, enjoyed their glory era during the 1940s and 1950s. Nineteen times Portuguese champions, Sporting won the ten of these championships in these two decades, including a streak of four consecutive championships between 1950/51 and 1953/54.

When it comes to European football, Sporting have never won the UEFA Champions League/European Cup. In fact, they are yet to even reach a Quarter Final in either format. In the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, Sporting’s best performance was in 2004/05. After seeing off Feyenoord, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and AZ Alkmaar in the knockout rounds, Sporting advanced to the final, which was played at their home Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon. However, CSKA Moscow defeated them 3-1 in the final to ruin the big occasion.

Sporting’s only European trophy is the 1963/64 UEFA Cup Winners Cup which they won by defeating Hungarian side MTK Budapest in the final, making them the only Portuguese club to win this trophy. Can you finally be the manager to end Sporting’s disappointment in Europe? By winning the Portuguese title in 2020/21, Sporting will automatically enter the 2021/22 Champions League group stage. In addition, you will be top-seeded for the draw. Will the draw fall favourably for you?

READ ALSO: 10 English Lower League Teams to Manage on FM22

Club Brugge KV

Club Brugge FM22

The next challenge comes from Belgium, and it is the second-most successful side when it comes to league championships won in the shape of Club Brugge KV. Founded in 1891, Blauw-Zwart (Blue-Black), as they are colloquially known, are the 3rd oldest football club in Belgium. Most interestingly, of their 17 championships won so far, Club Brugge have won all but one of them in the last 50 years with a 53-year gap between their first (1919/20) and their second (1972/73) championships.

Their first foray into European competition came in the 1967/68 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the predecessor competition to the UEFA Cup. Blauw-Zwart have reached two European club competition finals, the 1975/76 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League final and the 1977/78 Champions League/European Cup final. Both finals were lost to the same opponent, LiverpoolFC.

After winning 2020/21 Belgian Pro League A, Club Brugge automatically secured a place in the Champions League group stage. You will likely be seeded 4th in the draw, though, so expect to draw tough opponents. However, this is a long-term challenge, so can you gradually, over time, lead Club Brugge to the greatest prize in European club football and banish the final heartbreak of 1976 & 1978?

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Rangers FC

Rangers FC FM22

Next on the list is one of the most famous and prestigious clubs from outside of Europe’s big five leagues in the shape of Scotland’s Rangers FC. Founded in 1872, Rangers are record winners of the Scottish championship with 55 titles to their name, the most recent being that won in 2020/21, the club’s first since having to fight their way back through the league pyramid in Scotland after they dropped to the fourth tier in 2012/13 due to financial problems.

The Gers, as the club are famously known by their supporters, also have a famous history in European competition. The club won the 1971/72 UEFA Cup Winners Cup by defeating Dinamo Moscow in the final at Camp Nou stadium. In addition, the club also reached the final of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League under the management of the late Walter Smith, where they were defeated 2-0 by Zenit St Petersburg.

Rangers’ best performances in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League were in 1959/60 when they lost in the semi-finals to Eintracht Frankfurt and 1992/93 when they narrowly missed topping the final group stage, with Olympique de Marseille instead narrowly advancing ahead of Rangers to the final. Here is where you come in. Can you lead Rangers to Champions League glory on FM22? As a courtesy of Scottish champions, you will enter the 2020/21 Champions League in the third qualifying round and will need to win two ties to make the group stages.

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SL Benfica

Benfica FM22

Next on the list is another one of the most famous clubs from outside of Europe’s big five leagues and a former winner of the greatest prize in European club football in the shape of SL Benfica. As Aguias (The Eagles) were founded in 1904 and are record winners of the Portuguese league championship (37) and Portuguese Cup (26).

In European club competition, Benfica became famous in the 1960/61 European Cup by becoming the first team other than RealMadrid (who won the first five editions of the tournament) to win European football’s greatest prize. In Bern, Benfica, under the management of Bela Guttmann, defeated FC Barcelona 3-2. The Lisbon club retained their title the following season, this time defeating Real Madrid 5-3 in the final in Amsterdam.

However, after the 1962 final victory, Guttmann left Benfica after his requests for a pay rise were refused and uttered the words, “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions again.” In what is known as the curse of Bela Guttmann, Benfica have appeared in eight European club competition finals since Guttmann’s departure as manager and have lost every one of them.

Can you be the manager to lift Guttmann’s curse and lead Benfica to European glory? Benfica only finished 3rd in the Liga Primeira in 2020/21; thus, you will have to negotiate two rounds of Champions League qualification to make the group stages in Football Manager 2022.

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Olympiakos SFP

Olympiakos FM22

The next side on this list comes from Greece and is the country’s most successful club when it comes to league championships won in the shape of Olympiakos. Thrylos (Legend), as their fans affectionately call them, have won more Greek titles (48) than all the other clubs in the country combined.

When it comes to European football, though, Olympiakos have not been the most successful club when it comes to deepest runs in European competition. That honour belongs to their fierce rivals Panathinaikos who reached the final of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in 1970/71 and then reached the semi-finals in 1995/96. On the other hand, Olympiacos have only got as far as the Quarter Finals of the same competition once in 1998/99, where they lost narrowly to Juventus FC.

Can you be the manager to lead Olympiakos and Greek football to a first-ever European title and win the biggest one of them all in the Champions League? You will enter into the Champions League Second Qualification Round for 2021/22 and, therefore, will have to win three qualification rounds to make the group stage of the competition.

READ ALSO: 10 sides to end a long title winning drought with on FM22  

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar FM22

To Ukraine next and to one of the Ukrainian Premier League’s “Big Two” clubs in the shape of Shakhtar Donetsk. Formed in 1936, Hirniky (The Miners), as they are famously known, have strongly emerged as a force in Ukrainian football since the turn of the millennium. All 13 of their Ukrainian Premier League titles have come since 2001/02, and this emergence saw the IFFHS honour the club with an award for making the most progress of any football club during the 2000s.

Shakhtar have also managed to achieve impressive results in European football since the new millennium too. The club first reached the group stages of the Champions League in 2000/01, and their best performance in the competition came in 2010/11 when they reached the Quarter Finals of the competition, knocking out AS Roma en route before losing to eventual winners FC Barcelona. Shakhtar also won the 2008/09 UEFA Cup/Europa League, defeating Germany’s Werder Bremen in the final.

Shakhtar’s second place finish in 2020/21 Ukrainian Premier League sees them enter Champions League qualification at the Third Qualifying Round. You will therefore have to negotiate two rounds of qualifying to make the group stages. Can you become the first Ukrainian club to win the Champions League and win it ahead of fierce rivals Dynamo Kyiv?

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Dynamo Kyiv

Dynamo Kyiv FM22

Speaking of which, our next club is Dynamo Kyiv themselves, Ukrainian football’s most successful club, and the club voted as the Eastern European club of the 20th Century by France Presse. Founded in 1927, Dynamo Kyiv have won 16 Ukrainian Premier League titles (a record), 13 Soviet Highest League titles (also a record) and 2 UEFA Cup Winners Cup titles (1975 and 1986).

In the European Cup/UEFA Champions League in both the Soviet and Ukrainian eras, Dynamo Kyiv have historically been one of the strongest sides to participate in the competition from outside of Europe’s Big Five league. Twice in the era of the European Cup (until 1992), Dynamo Kyiv reached the semi-finals, losing in 1976/77 to Borussia Moenchengladbach and in 1986/87 to FC Porto.

In 1998/99 in the Champions League era, Dynamo Kyiv won their group, famously knocked out then holders Real Madrid in the Quarter Finals 3-1 on aggregate before narrowly losing 4-3 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. Both Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov catapulted themselves to stardom during this famous European campaign.

Can you now succeed where the brilliant generations of 1977, 1987 and 1999 narrowly missed out and win European football’s top prize with Dynamo Kyiv? After winning the Ukrainian Premier League in 2020/21, you will automatically qualify for the 2021/22 Champions League group stages in FM22.

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Ajax Amsterdam

Ajax FM22

The next club is arguably in terms of European honours, the strongest club from outside of Europe’s big five leagues; it is none other than Ajax Amsterdam. Founded in 1900, Ajax hold the record for most Dutch Eredivisie title wins (35), and Dutch Cup wins (20). However, in addition to the huge haul of domestic trophies won, Ajax also possess a European trophy honours board no other non-big five league team can match.

Four UEFA Champions League titles, including three in a row between 1971 and 1973, sit proudly alongside a UEFA Cup Winners Cup title won in 1987 and a UEFA Cup title in 1992. Recent seasons have also seen Ajax emerge once again as a force in European football. The club reached the final of the 2016/17 Europa League, where they were defeated by Manchester United. Then, more agonisingly in 2018/19 after having defeated Real Madrid and Juventus in earlier knockout rounds, Ajax lost in heart-breaking fashion to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League semi-finals.

Are you the manager to lead Ajax to European glory once more or even another European dynasty, just like the club enjoyed in the early 1970s? As Eredivisie champions, Ajax will qualify directly for the Champions League group stage.

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Red Bull Salzburg

Red Bull Salzburg FM22

The penultimate club on the list of non-big five league teams to lead to Champions League glory is one of the most controversial clubs yet one which has emerged as a real force in recent seasons, Red Bull Salzburg. The club was founded in 1933 under the name SV Austria Salzburg and won its first Austrian Bundesliga title in 1993/94. In addition, the very same year, Austria Salzburg reached the final of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, losing to Inter Milan.

In April 2005, towards the end of the 2004/05 season, the club was purchased by Austrian energy drinks company Red Bull GmbH who then went on to change the club’s name to Red Bull Salzburg and changed the team’s colours. As a result of this, the fanbase of the old Austria Salzburg split. Some supported the rebrand to Red Bull Salzburg, and some opted to boycott the Red Bull takeover. These supporters would form a fan-owned phoenix club under the former name SV Austria Salzburg.

Since the Red Bull takeover, Red Bull Salzburg have emerged as the dominant force in Austrian football and have won 12 of their 15 Austrian titles since 2006/07. The club has also achieved some good recent results in European football, the most noteworthy of which being in 2017/18 when Red Bull Salzburg reached the Europa League semi-finals defeating Lazio, Borussia Dortmund and Real Sociedad along the way before losing to Olympique de Marseille.

Can you be the manager who helps one of the emerging forces in European football outside of the traditional big leagues achieve European glory by winning the Champions League? As Austrian Bundesliga champions, Red Bull Salzburg automatically qualify for the Champions League group stages.

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Zenit St Petersburg

Zenit FM22

Our final club in this challenge comes from Russia and the Russian Premier League’s dominant team in recent seasons in the shape of Zenit St Petersburg. Formed in 1925, Zenit had an unbroken streak of appearing in the Soviet Highest League of 51 years between 1938 and 1989. However, during this period, they only won one Soviet title (1984).

In December 2005, Zenit were taken over by natural gas giant Gazprom, this takeover has seen the club emerge as a force in Russian football, winning seven of the so far fourteen completed Russian Premier League titles since 2007. In addition, Zenit also famously won the aforementioned 2008 UEFA Cup/Europa League final, defeating Rangers in the final in Manchester.

Despite the UEFA Cup victory and the domestic success which includes three straight Russian titles between 2018/19 and 2020/21, Zenit have hit a glass ceiling when it comes to the Champions League. Their best performance in the competition was reaching the Round of Sixteen on three occasions (2011/12, 2013/14 and 2015/16), however, they have yet to reach a Champions League Quarter Final.

Here is where you come in, are you the manager to break this ceiling for Zenit and get them through to a Champions League Quarter Final or beyond even this and win the club a Champions League title? Whilst this challenge has no time limit, it would be a remarkable FM 22 feat if you could win Zenit the Champions League in your first season given the 2021/22 final of the competition is taking place at Zenit’s Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg.


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FM Blog: 10 Teams to Manage to a Champions League Title on FM22
10 Teams to Manage to a Champions League Title on FM22
Can you win the Champions League with a side outside the “Big Five” leagues on FM22? 10 teams to manage to a CL title in Football Manager 2022.
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