Ancelotti nervous as Real Madrid and Manchester City face each other again

  • Clubs compete in Champions League quarter-finals at Bernabeu
  • The pair meet in the competition for the fourth time in five seasons

Ancelotti nervous

It’s Carlo Ancelotti’s 200th Champions League match as a coach, his 1,331st in a hugely successful 30-year career at one of the world’s most high-pressing clubs, and he’s still nervous. He’s seen it all and has won this competition four times as a coach, more than anyone else, including the manager he faced on Tuesday night, but he still can’t help it Can do. Before a game, he admits, there comes a moment when the heart rate increases and sweating begins; After them, the best he can hope for is relief.

“Defeat is sadness. Is victory… happiness?” Ancelotti said Real Madrid, which claims the trophy as its own, is ready to meet Manchester City, which also owns the trophy. “No. Unfortunately, that’s not true. It’s a relief. There’s happiness if you win titles, but in individual sports there’s [only] relief: for a few days, you stay calm. But sadness is yours.” It’s part of the job, it’s what keeps you alive: the pressure, the stress.

It’s about how you embrace it, how you live with it, and the Madrid manager believes what was missing when his team lost 4-0 at the Etihad last season was character. “We played without courage, without personality,” Ancelotti said.
Champions League favorites City and Madrid meet for the fourth time in the last five seasons. In 2020, City defeated Madrid in the last 16. In 2022, Madrid made a comeback that was another miracle for the ages. Last year, there was something of a mission about Manchester City as they tore apart Madrid. For the first 15 minutes, Ancelotti’s team averaged less than a minute. Vinicius Junior left Manchester, declaring: “It can’t happen next year.”

It shouldn’t be Then, with Barcelona languishing in the league, Ancelotti’s future at the Bernabeu was not secure, but a year later he remains so. Madrid are now stronger, closer to reclaiming the league title and lessons have been learned.

“Courage and personality are fundamental in this kind of game,” Ancelotti said. “The mental element is important: we need personality. But it wasn’t just mentality, character; It was technical as well as football. They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t find any solution, we didn’t manage it. We want to avoid that in this match.

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“We have time to prepare it. We have prepared well and I am confident that we will give our best in every sense, mentally, physically, technically. We have the quality to compete.”

The coach said he would “not do anything strange”, telling journalists not to worry: “You won’t misplace the starting eleven.” He then paused, laughed and said: “Okay, maybe…” before concluding: “You might get one name wrong, but no more: the team is absolutely clear.”

One doubt may be over central defence, with Aurelien Tchoumeni likely to start ahead of Nacho Fernandez, and Eduardo Camavinga could take his place in midfield. The other central defender will be Toni Rudiger, who played in the first leg last year, as the game ended 1-1, but not in the second when Madrid went ahead, and has been undrafted this season.

“The coach didn’t apologize after the second game last year, but he doesn’t need to,” Rüdiger said of his mistake. “As a player I have to accept, even if it is difficult. I think in the first game we all did a great job keeping [Erling] Haaland quiet: my teammates controlled the ball and he didn’t get as many balls as he wanted.

“He is definitely one of the strongest strikers I have played with. If I can say that the one who is very strict was Kun Aguero, but it is about Haaland now. It is not easy to control him. “He depends on the passes he gets from his teammates.”

Pictures emerged of Rudiger sticking his face into Haaland’s armpit after the first leg last year, actions from a player who admitted to the delight of the Bernabeu that he is “a bit crazy”.

“I saw the pictures and videos, but these are not the things I have planned and I have no plans for tomorrow,” he said here. It’s just a feeling of a moment. I can tell you it’s all about the team and things like that, but I’ll take the duel personally. This is me as a defensive player against a super striker.

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“We won’t just sit back and watch City dominate possession, that’s part of the game. We will press but there will be phases where we have to defend more and we are prepared to do that. Whatever comes our way is part of it.

We have to remain positive to reach the next stage. I feel confident, we are in good position, in good mood, the team feels like a family and I am absolutely sure that we will win. It is difficult but we are Real Madrid.”

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