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Champions League: Carlo Ancelotti hopes Real Madrid will not need comeback in final vs Liverpool

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Carlo Ancelotti hopes Real Madrid will not need another dramatic Champions League comeback in this weekend’s final against Liverpool, as he admits the three revivals of their mammoth slog to Paris made him ‘suffer’ this season more than most

  • Real Madrid are set to face Liverpool in the Champions League final on Saturday
  • It has been a remarkable run to the Paris showpiece for Carlo Ancelotti’s side
  • They produced stirring comebacks vs PSG, Chelsea and Man City to get there
  • But Ancelotti wants Los Blancos to topple Liverpool in more comfortable fashion

Carlo Ancelotti said he does not want another comeback on Saturday against Liverpool after the three dramatic revivals of Real Madrid’s mammoth slog to the final.

‘No we don’t want another comeback. We hope it will be Liverpool who will be trying to come back,’ he joked at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground.

He was asked which of the three knockout rounds was toughest and if he had given up on his team making it through at any time. He said: ‘In the three rounds I never thought we were out. The mental aspect was huge against Chelsea. We had the advantage from the first leg and so preparing the second leg was more difficult.’

Carlo Ancelotti hopes Real Madrid do not need another comeback vs Liverpool on Saturday

Carlo Ancelotti hopes Real Madrid do not need another comeback vs Liverpool on Saturday

The Italian coach admitted that Madrid’s journey to Paris had taken its toll. Asked for the worst moments before a final he said: ‘The three hours before the game are bad – the stress, the sweating, the negative thoughts. I have suffered this season more than most and there are no pills that you can take, you just have to bear it.’

The three-time European Cup winning coach was in jovial mood before Madrid’s Tuesday training session. He was generous about Liverpool, mentioning their legendary former coach Bob Paisley, who he can surpass at the weekend, and their revenge-seeking striker Mohamed Salah.

Asked about Salah’s comments that this is Liverpool’s chance to avenge their defeat in 2018 Ancelotti said: ‘It could be an extra motivation for them, but Madrid could say the same about Paris in 1981. We respect him [Salah] he’s a great player. But the revenge aspect can work for us too.

Madrid have produced three incredible revivals on their way to the Champions League final

Madrid have produced three incredible revivals on their way to the Champions League final

They fought back against PSG and Chelsea before producing a sensational late recovery to get past Manchester City in the semi-final

They fought back against PSG and Chelsea before producing a sensational late recovery to get past Manchester City in the semi-final

But Mohamed Salah and Liverpool are eyeing revenge against Real in Paris this weekend

But Mohamed Salah and Liverpool are eyeing revenge against Real in Paris this weekend

‘Liverpool is a club that I respect hugely because of the way Anfield pushes its players in the same way our supporters do at the Bernabeu: it’s one of football’s great things. The problem for both clubs is that we are playing neither at Anfield nor the Bernabeu. Neither team will have the magic of their stadium.

‘And of course Liverpool have Bob Paisley who won three European Cups. I have the utmost respect for them.’

If he becomes the first coach to win four Champions Leagues it will be a reminder of his quality in an era where a different sort of manager has emerged and began to dominate.

Displaying all the pragmatism that has marked his career Ancelotti said: ‘These coaches have taken football to a different place. [Jurgen] Klopp and [Thomas] Tuchel and the German school have brought more intensity, more pressing, and a higher line. It’s something new. But I don’t think I’m necessarily old school. 

‘For me the most important thing is the characteristics of the players you have. I can’t play a high press if I have a fat striker. If we are going to press I need a lean strong forward. If my striker is fat I’ll leave him in the box just so he can finish the moves.’

Ancelotti declared everyone fit ahead of the game and said even Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale had options of playing.

Ancelotti says he has a fully fit squad at his disposal heading into Saturday's showpiece

Ancelotti says he has a fully fit squad at his disposal heading into Saturday’s showpiece

‘David Alaba is fine’ he said of the defender who has been Real Madrid’s biggest doubt recently. ‘The whole squad is good physically and Hazard is fine. He’s training well and he could play. Bale could play. The fact that everyone is fit is good news.’

Ancelotti has relied heavily on a limited group of players this season but denied that had upset the fringe players. ‘There have been no problems,’ he said. ‘Not with Bale, not with Isco not with anyone.’

Despite those comments about the shredded nerves on the road to Paris, Ancelotti was, even by his standards, in a relaxed and jokey mood. He said there is so much recent experience of winning the Champions League in his squad, he will be asking his players how to win the final and not vice-versa.

And when questioned about how he selects penalty takers for shootouts he said: ‘You make a list before the game but then you have to ask again when the time comes. Sometimes you have trouble finding five players.’ 

To much laughter he added: ‘sometimes there are players hiding behind the bench.’

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