Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti makes history as first manager to reach five Champions League finals with Man City win

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Carlo Ancelotti became the first manager in history to reach five Champions League finals after Real Madrid stunningly beat Man City 6-5 on aggregate to set up a match with Liverpool

After becoming the first coach to win all five of Europe’s top-five leagues, Carlo Ancelotti has put his name in the history books again by reaching his fifth Champions League final.

Real’s 4-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday put him alone in managerial history in leading teams from Serie A, the Premier League, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga and La Liga to league titles.

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The 62-year-old is already the first man to lead four different clubs to the Champions League semi-finals, and after a stunning extra-time comeback win over City at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, now stands alone as the only man in history to manage in five Champions League finals.

He was victorious in his first Champions League final with a penalty shootout win over Juventus at Old Trafford in 2003, but two years later was beaten on spot kicks after a stunning comeback from Liverpool in Turkey. Another two years on and he got his revenge, as Milan beat the Reds 2-1 in Athens.

He was victorious in his first Champions League final with a penalty shootout win over Juventus at Old Trafford in 2003, but two years later was beaten on spot kicks after a stunning comeback from Liverpool in Turkey. Another two years on and he got his revenge, as Milan beat the Reds 2-1 in Athens.

Despite his close and long-term relationship with the city of Milan, perhaps his best final was saved for his first spell at the Bernabeu, where he finally helped Real Madrid to ‘La Decima’, their 10th Champions League trophy, an achievement they had waited 12 years to realise.

Eight years on from last lifting the European Cup, he will now have the chance to add a fourth winners’ medal to his collection when Real take on Liverpool in Paris later this month – with Klopp taking to the dugout in his fourth final, only one behind Ancelotti.

In contrast to events this week, Ancelotti’s first season back in the Spanish capital had started with a certain degree of apathy towards his return.

He had just spent a season managing Everton to an unremarkable 10th-placed finish in the Premier League, returning only 12 points from his last 10 games. Meanwhile, the club was desperate to return to the top after losing out to their city-rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga in 2020/21 and although Ancelotti was still well thought of from his first spell in Spain, he had failed to lift the domestic title in either of his two previous seasons at the Bernabeu.
Spanish football journalist Tom Allnutt told Sky Sports: “When he arrived, it was a fairly underwhelming appointment. He wasn’t unwelcome, no one was annoyed about it, he is very popular in Madrid with the players, club and journalists but people were a little surprised.

“He’s done a good job, a really good job. They’ve been a lot better defensively, he’s stabilised them at the back which needed doing after they lost Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

“More than anything it’s the normal thing with Ancelotti, he’s ridden out any storms and individual instances with players. He has that ability to make everything seem unimportant, which is a real skill and valuable for a coach of Real Madrid. It was one of Zidane’s greatest strengths, to diffuse controversy, keep the players and team away from the noise.

“In part, it’s because he’s 62 years old, and bottom line he doesn’t see it as high-pressure a job as other coaches would when they go through bad patches. He doesn’t have that sense of bitterness or pressure, he’s just really pleased and grateful to have another opportunity to manage Madrid. I think he thought Everton was going to be his level, so it’s worked well for him and for Madrid as well.”

There were questions over the Italian’s future after a 4-0 drubbing by Barcelona in March despite their lead over Chelsea in the Champions League and at the top of La Liga, a madness only understood in the ruthless Bernabeu boardroom which has turned away many trophy-winning coaches over the years

That talk has long since quietened and it appears instead he will at least see out the second of his two-year contract in the Spanish capital, although if another shaky moment does signal his departure, it will be on good terms.

Allnutt says: “If he leaves, which I don’t think he will now but if he did, there won’t be any bitterness or resentment from either side. Perez would thank him for coming back and doing the job they wanted him to do, and now they’d just be moving him on for Nagelsmann or Pochettino and go in a different direction, but ultimately it’s been a successful spell.

“He understands more than anyone the ruthlessness of Real Madrid, and it was one of the attractions of hiring him in the first place – he was an easy hire, and he’d be an easy fire too.”

 

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