One is an electric battery and the other a Zen master, but Jürgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti share a love of players and an eye for detail that will see Liverpool and Real Madrid face off in the League final on Saturday. champions.
Four years after the final won (3-1) by Zinedine Zidane’s Real, the two teams meet face to face after very successful seasons. Hired in the summer of 2021 to replace “Zizou”, Ancelotti has fulfilled his mission: after a white season, Real crushed La Liga, won the Spanish Super Cup, and dreams of “Decimocuarta”, his 14th C1. Considered an old veteran with his good-natured air, his frankness, and his good nature, “Carletto” immediately won the respect of the locker room.
“The players are my friends”, even dropped Ancelotti after the celebration of the 35th coronation of Real in La Liga, when a photo of him, dark glasses on his nose and cigar at the end of his lips, ignited the Internet. But if his method, based on his intrinsic human qualities, his talent for interpersonal skills, or his foolproof phlegm, has never varied, it masks an unquenched thirst for victory. And despite his 62 years, Ancelotti does not believe “to be of the old generation”, and ensures to follow “closely the changes in football”.
“Good work ambiance”
At Valdebebas, Real’s training center, he relies on a framework that mixes experienced figures, such as sports trainer Antonio Pintus, and young talents, such as his son Davide Ancelotti, who will graduate from UEFA Pro. “We were able to create a good working atmosphere at Valdebebas (…) and when you have a good working dynamic, you can win everything,” he explained on Tuesday.
Having become by winning La Liga and the only coach to have won the five major European championships, he could become the first to lift a fourth “Big Ears Cup” as the main technician, after two C1s at AC Milan (2003, 2007) and one, already, at Real (2014). “I would be happy with that, but individual awards are not an obsession for me. When I retire, maybe I could say I was the first to do it… But today, it does not matter to me“, he cut on Tuesday.
In front of him, he will find a Jürgen Klopp known for his exacerbated reactions on the touchline and his angry celebrations in front of the Reds supporters after each victory. Arrived 6 and a half years ago, Klopp recently extended until 2026 and his symbiosis is total with this club steeped in history and its boiling public, as is his stranglehold on sports policy, thanks to phenomenal results including the conquest of the C1 2019.
He will play his third C1 final in five years on Saturday and if Manchester City have won four of the last five Premier League titles, including two with a point lead over the Reds, Liverpool had won that of 2020, the first since 30 years.
“One in a Million”
Assisted by Pep Lijnders, in charge of training content and Peter Krawietz, his tactical “eye”, he knows his group like the back of his hand but is always looking for ways to polish up the smallest detail. After a lot of work on the lines in the past years, with a dedicated coach, Liverpool have made enormous progress on set pieces this season, with neuroscientists working on decision-making.
The 11 out of 11 successful attempts on penalties in the League Cup final and 6 out of 7 in the FA Cup, with two coronations snatched at the expense of Chelsea, are no coincidence. The 63 matches out of 63 possible that Liverpool will have played this season, either.
Benefiting for once from four weeks of training last summer, Klopp had prepared his team like never before, with extensive medical monitoring to prevent any risk of injury. Post-Klopp is a thought that inspires the worst fears at the club. “It would not have been possible to win (C1 2019) without the manager,” captain Jordan Henderson recently recalled.
“Liverpool fans should take advantage of Jürgen Klopp. I think (he’s a manager like) there’s one in a million, he’s as good as that,” added Steven Gerrard, captain of the Reds when Klopp is arrived and tipped to succeed him one day.
Source: AFP via Bein