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Champions League - Football: Where does Carlo Ancelotti stand amongst the greats?

29 May 2022 05:55:33 EST
Carlo Ancelotti continues to impress

At one stage, it looked at though this season's Champions League final could well have marked the moment Liverpool won an unprecedented quadruple.

It could have also been about Mohamed Salah making amends for missing most of the 2018 final.

Instead, it was about Carlo Ancelotti, who became the first ever manager to win a fourth Champions League title in Paris on Saturday night.

Courtois stands firm

It was by no means a foregone conclusion. Liverpool dominated for much of the match, managing 24 shots compared to Real Madrid's four in France. But Real's shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois seemed impenetrable, denying the Premier League's joint-top scorer Salah on six occasions at the Stade de France.

But Real were creating chances too and just before the hour mark Vinicius Junior, one of the club's hottest prospects, stole in at the far post to score from Federico Valverde's low cross.

Courtois and Real stood strong and held on to their lead for the remaining half an hour, denying Liverpool a third trophy of the season and themselves securing a double after romping to the La Liga title earlier this year.

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Ancelotti is one of the greats

This is undoubtedly a Real side full of quality but much of the credit will go to history-maker Ancelotti, who once again showed there are few, if any, better than him at managing the game's biggest egos and personalities.

The veteran Italian cut a composed and calm figure in his pre-match press conference and oversaw wins against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and now Liverpool on the way to lifting the trophy.

Earlier this season, he broke another record, having also become the first manager to win titles in each of Europe's top five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

The 62-year-old has also demonstrated an unparalleled ability to keep up with changes in the game, despite his age.

Things may not have all gone to plan at recent club Everton but it is clear it is at the very top where he excels and the fact his first Champions League title as manager came all the way back in the 2002/03 season with AC Milan shows how much of a constant he has been in the modern game.

It is felt this is perhaps a one-off rather than a new era of domination in continental football with Real Madrid 13.00 to retain their Champions League crown in 2022/23.

That is perhaps fair enough given core players such as Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, who has enjoyed one of his best ever seasons, are not getting any younger.

But that only emphasises how good a job Ancelotti has done at the Santiago Bernabeu, continuing to get the most out of a group who have been considered past their best by many.

Liverpool fall short

While Ancelotti made history on Saturday night, opposing manager Jurgen Klopp will, meanwhile, be reflecting on a season in which there was so much potential to shatter records.

Winning the FA Cup and League Cup, finishing second in the Premier League and reaching the final of the Champions League still represents a sensational season for the Reds but perfectionist Klopp will undoubtedly be disappointed they did not achieve more.

The statistic staring the German in the face will be that his side failed to score in 90 minutes in all three finals they reached this season but it would be harsh to lay too much blame at the feet of an attack featuring Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino.

The Merseysiders are 6.00 to win next season's Champions League and it will be back to the drawing board for Klopp, who will surely conclude his career one day as one of the all-time greatest managers. For now, though, it is Ancelotti who has been inducted into that particular 'Hall of Fame'.

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