“I faced Liverpool in the 1984 final as a player, then in 2005 and 2007 as manager, and now it will be against Liverpool one more time. I lived in Liverpool for two years and it’s like a derby for me, because I am still an Evertonian.”
In Carlo Ancelotti, Liverpool will be facing a man who knows how to get the better of them.
He won one and drew two of his three Premier League meetings as Everton boss – the only defeat during his time at Goodison Park came in the FA Cup third round.
The Italian has faced Liverpool as a manager on no fewer than 16 occasions over the years, winning eight times in the process, while losing on just five occasions.
Ancelotti’s currency has always been winning trophies, but it is the unbreakable spirit of his side that make familiar foes Real Madrid the most dangerous opponents Liverpool would ever wish to face in this weekend’s Champions League final at the Stade de France.
Real struggled at the beginning of the LaLiga campaign but would ultimately saunter to a record-extending 35th domestic title last month in dominant fashion.
The win also made Ancelotti the first manager to capture titles in each of Europe’s top five leagues – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. He has come a long way since his first job with Reggiana in the summer of 1995.
Ancelotti hasn’t become one of the game’s great minds through dwelling on past successes, however, and the 62-year-old believes the title success can help lift the players’ spirits further as they prepare to head to Paris.
“A celebration like this can bring an extra energy to the locker room, it can be good as another motivation facing such a difficult task against a great team,” Ancelotti said. “The season has been spectacular. Lots of regularity. Consistency. I have to thank the players for their work and their attitude.”
Real are in their fifth Champions League final in nine years led by Ancelotti, the first coach to win the European Cup three times with two different clubs and on the verge of leapfrogging Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane to become the first to win it four times.
This will be the third meeting in a European final, the most between two clubs across the history of this competition. Liverpool won the first 1-0 final back in 1981 before Real beat Jurgen Klopp’s side 3-1 in 2018.
Ancelotti knows he is facing a fellow European heavyweight, but his calm demeanour – his quiet genius – has made a mockery of initial plans for his return to only be a temporary measure.