28th May, 2022
Real Madrid duo Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois have hailed Carlo Ancelotti’s impact on the side on the eve of their Champions League final clash with Liverpool, with the former saying he is “lucky” to have worked with the Italian.
Ancelotti has made a stunning impact since returning to the club he led to the 2014 Champions League title, winning LaLiga by a 13-point margin and leading Los Blancos to the showpiece event in Paris against all odds.
Madrid have become the first team to reach the competition’s final after losing a game in each of the last 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, while Ancelotti could win the trophy for a fourth time as head coach.
That would make the Italian the most successful boss in the competition’s history outright, and he has won three of his previous four Champions League finals – though his one such defeat came against Liverpool as Milan boss in 2005.
Speaking alongside Ancelotti at Madrid’s pre-match press conference in Paris, both players hailed the Italian’s abilities to communicate with Los Blancos’ star-studded squad, with Marcelo saying he felt fortunate to have worked under the 62-year-old.
“I’ve known him for eight years, I’ve been lucky enough to train with him,” the Brazilian said of his head coach.
“He understands football very well and knows how to manage the locker room. It’s normal that we all want to play.
“This season we haven’t had almost any problems, the coach leaves us alone and tells us the truth. That gives the confidence to work.”
Madrid goalkeeper Courtois, who is yet to win European football’s biggest prize and was a runner-up to Los Blancos when on loan at Atletico Madrid in 2014, echoed the left-back’s praise of Ancelotti, crediting him and his staff with fostering an excellent team spirit at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“The good dynamics of the team is due to the coaching staff, we train very well and we know that they make decisions,” he said.
“But they manage it very well, everyone has played. That’s why we are where we are.”
Including Marcelo, Madrid have four different players in their squad to have made 100 or more Champions League appearances (Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo, and David Alaba).
They could become the first team to name a starting XI in the competition’s final featuring four or more players with a century of Champions League appearances, having fielded three in their 2018 final win over Jurgen Klopp’s team (Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos).
Meanwhile, Marcelo, who is out of contract at the end of this season, says any decision on whether he will extend his 15-year stay with Madrid will be made after the final.
While the 34-year-old was unwilling to give any hints as to where his future may lie, he referred to the Spanish giants as “the club of his life”, and says the team has given him “everything” in his career.
“Everyone knows my passion and my love for the club of my life, which is Madrid,” Marcelo added.
“[Former club] Fluminense was in its time, it gave me everything at the beginning. Madrid has given me everything too.
“I won’t say what I think now. I don’t want a statue, my story is made in Madrid, and I will continue to do so. After the final, we’ll see what we do.”