Carlo Ancelotti And His Outstanding Record At Real Madrid

Ancelotti manager
Photo Credit: AP

Carlo Ancelotti is the most successful manager in Champions League history. He’s lifted the big-earred trophy four times as a coach, twice with Milan, twice with Real Madrid.

The 2021-22 season also saw the Italian add a first La Liga title to his glittering CV, making him a league champion in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and England.

Only three managers in Real Madrid history have won more trophies than Ancelotti. He won almost three-quarters of his games in his first stint, and sits a shade under 70% since succeeding Zinedine Zidane in the summer of 2021.

The Italian has disappointed with his league performances at some clubs, and he doesn’t have an ideological outlook on football like Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, but his success puts him in the pantheon of modern football managers.

Alex Ferguson won just two Champions Leagues. Guardiola is at the same mark. Arsene Wenger never lifted the trophy. Jose Mourinho won it at Porto and Inter but not with Real or Chelsea.

Ancelotti’s teams might not have been as influential long-term or dominant domestically as those of the aforementioned quartet, yet none can come close to his record in the world’s biggest club competition.

While not one to talk up his achievements, Ancelotti is well aware of where he stands in the history of the Champions League.

Speaking after Real Madrid’s win over Liverpool, he said, “I can’t believe I have four Champions League titles. We suffered, but the team’s commitment was perfect.

“We are very happy because we finished the season very well. Alaba, Militao and Mendy have been very good. The plan went well. Courtois has had a fantastic season.

“It was the most difficult cup I’ve ever won. It helped us that nobody thought it was winnable, that gave the team commitment, confidence, fight and we created a good atmosphere, added to the individual quality of the players we have.

Ancelotti Champions League

“The happiness is more because I have returned to Madrid we have had a spectacular season, I will never stop thanking the president and the players.

“I keep the tranquility of the locker room, I was calm when the game was delayed, I was the most nervous one, I went into my room so that the players could not see me, they were very calm, very calm. That confidence helps.

“After four years, I had difficulties fighting for titles, returning to Madrid was a great success. At the moment I don’t think about the titles I won, I think about the happiness of the fans and the players.

“Now I’m going on vacation and then start thinking about next season, enjoy this moment, it has been an incredible season. I didn’t think we could have three competitions, Super Cup, LaLiga and Champions League.”

Ancelotti is one of the most likeable men in football. He brought Champions Leagues to Milan, he won PSG’s first Ligue 1 title in 19 years.

In England, he won Chelsea’s first ever double playing sensational football along the way. The Italian brought glamour to Everton at a time of substantial investment, too.

In the Spanish capital, it took just one season to win La Decima. Upon his return, he won another Champions League, completing an improbable run to the final with dramatic wins over PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Few fanbases will have a bad word to say about Ancelotti.

Liverpool might be an exception to that rule, however, after Ancelotti talked down the difficulty of facing them after the 2022 final.

“Looking back, people said PSG were unlucky, Chelsea were unlucky, Manchester City were unlucky. This was practically the only game where people thought we were more or less on the same level.

Ancelotti manager

“I think it helped that Liverpool were easier to decipher than the others, because they have a very clear identity and we could prepare the way that we did. We knew what strategy to take – don’t give them space behind the defence to run into.

“Perhaps our football wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful on an aesthetic level, but playing out from the back to incentivise their pressing wasn’t a great idea. We had a few more long balls, then we got to control the ball more, especially in the second half.”

This season should be viewed as Ancelotti’s greatest achievement. The route to the final was arduous in the extreme. He returned to the Santiago Bernabeu with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane leaving for Paris and Manchester respectively.

Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale were non-factors. The midfield duo of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric was ageing, and had just been outrun by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final. Making Real into a force on the European stage seemed like a two or three-year process.

Instead, Ancelotti turned things round immediately. It’s something he has done so often throughout his managerial career, yet cruising to a La Liga triumph and beating this selection of teams in the Champions League is a level or two above what he’s accomplished elsewhere.

Real have managed to walk both paths, keeping competitive with their veterans while introducing young talent.

The last 10 to 15 years of football management have been dominated by intensity both in personality and style of play. Ancelotti is a contrast.

He’s somewhere between a father figure and an uncle, a pragmatist who relaxes his players. Where this can lead to slip ups in tight league campaigns, it frees them from the shackles of pressure in knockout football.

Ancelotti has had a managerial career like no other, following an exceptional spell as a player with Parma, Roma and Milan, winning three Scudetti and two European Cups.

For all his glories around Europe, though, it’s at Real Madrid where his managerial legacy has been cemented alongside the all-time greats.

Ancelotti Real Madrid Honours:

  • La Liga – 2021-22
  • Copa del Rey – 2013-14
  • Champions League – 2013-14, 2021-22
  • UEFA Super Cup – 2014
  • Club World Cup – 2014