LISBON: Even Carlo Ancelotti, with years of experience at playing and coaching to win the biggest prizes, has never come across anything quite like the challenge of La Decima writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Confronting Atletico de Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Final in the Estadio Benfica in Lisbon is the most important match Real have undertaken in the past 12 years – ever since Zinedine Zidane’s majestic volley won cup No9 against Leverkusen in Glasgow.
Ancelotti is content that Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit for an emotional and pressured return to the city where he made his teenage name with Sporting Clube. But fitness doubts remain oer central defender Pepe and centre-forward Karim Benzema as well as the identity of the deputy for suspended anchor Xabi Alonso.
Asked what concerned him the most about the first Champions Final derby, Ancelotti said: “The only thing is the unpredictable. The winners will probably be the one which has the better all-round team game.”
Ancelotti also qualified the emotion surrounding the record-extending 10th cup as “not so much an obsession, rather a dream.”
Central defender Sergio Ramos denied that Atletico played a more physically intense game than Real. He echoed Ancelotti in saying: “Success, first and foremost, is all down to hard work and anyone who thinks this is not the quality of Real Madrid is mistaken.”
** Real Madrid coaching aide Zinedine Zidane has denied reports from France that he has been offered the coaching role at Bordeaux.