Ancelotti: “History impulsed Madrid to ‘deserved’ Champions League final”
Real Madrid will go in search of their 14th triumph at Europe’s highest level on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool awaiting in Paris.
Carlo Ancelotti believes the weight of history behind Real Madrid has pushed Los Blancos to another Champions League final. Liverpool stand in the way of a 14th triumph at the highest level in Europe for Madrid, who have not lost in the final of the competition since defeat to the Reds in Paris in 1981.
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The Stade de France will play host to Saturday’s clash between Jürgen Klopp’s Reds and Ancelotti’s Madrid, with the Italian looking to lift the Champions League for a record fourth time as a manager. Madrid’s run in Europe this season has been packed with late heroics, having overturned a two-goal deficit to defeat Paris Saint-Germain and staved off a late Chelsea comeback to triumph in extra-time. The Spanish giants saved their best for the semi-final, though, Rodrygo scoring twice in the dying moments before Karim Benzema sealed a remarkable turnaround with an extra-time penalty against Manchester City.
While questions remain about whether Madrid will be able to pull off another result against Liverpool, Ancelotti insists his side are full value for their place in the showpiece game. “We deserved to reach the final,” he told a news conference on Friday. “Quality and talent is not enough. You have to combine it with commitment. The history of this club has pushed us to the final. To win the final you have to deserve it. We have to show our qualities, as we have done the whole season. The collective commitment has been great, with a lot of individual quality. Liverpool will be intense and direct, that’s what they will propose. Whoever is able to show their quality will win.”
Memories of Istanbul
Ancelotti has succeeded in three of his previous four Champions League finals as a coach, with the one exception when Liverpool completed a Madrid-like comeback to defeat a star-studded Milan on penalties in 2005. However, the 62-year-old pinpointed that defeat, in which Milan were 3-0 up at half-time before losing, as his favourite European final he has overseen.
“Dreams can’t be controlled. I have good memories of my finals. The final that was my favourite was in 2005 when we lost to Liverpool,” he said. “Anything can happen in a final and you have to be ready. We’ve prepared well and we’re going to give the best we have. If it’s enough, I don’t know, because football has something that can’t be controlled. The build-up is very nice, you have to enjoy it until the referee whistles the start. Then another story begins.”
Ancelotti will perhaps be wished well by some fans of Liverpool’s local rivals Everton, whom he managed last season before returning to Madrid for a second spell. “The Everton fans will go with us. I have great memories. I’m sure they will support me tomorrow,” he said.
As for his starting XI, Ancelotti suggested he has made up his mind but not informed his players who will make the cut. “The line-up is decided, but I’m not going to say it. The players don’t know it,” he said.