|Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti celebrates winning La Liga with supporters. — Photo courtesy of @VINIJR|
Just like Mohammed Salah, I wanted Liverpool to play Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League, and not Manchester City.
And after very late drama in the Bernabeu Stadium in the early hours of Thursday morning in the semi-final second leg game against City, Mo and I got our wish.
Salah is clearly out for revenge. In 2018 when the two sides met in the final of the same competition, Salah was forced off the pitch after just 30 minutes following a reckless challenge by Sergio Ramos.
Liverpool lost the game by three goals to one.
And yes, while revenge is obviously a sweet thought for all Liverpool fans ahead of the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, there’s another reason I wanted to play Real Madrid, and that’s Carlo Ancelotti.
There’s history in this competition between Carlo and Liverpool.
As a player with Roma, he was in the squad that played Liverpool in the final in 1984 but was ruled out of the match through injury.
In the 2005 final, Ancelotti was manager of AC Milan when they threw away a three-goal lead to lose to Liverpool in Istanbul.
Two years later and Ancelotti’s AC again faced Liverpool in the final of the Champions League in Athens, and Carlo got his revenge, winning by two goals to one.
Last month, Real secured the La Liga title with four games to spare, making Ancelotti the first manager to win all titles in five countries – Italy, France, England, Germany and Spain.
He won his first league title as a coach almost two decades ago, topping Serie A in 2004 with AC Milan. He went on to win the Premier League in 2010 with Chelsea, Ligue 1 in 2013 with Paris Saint-Germain and the Bundesliga in 2017 with Bayern Munich.
An achievement that is unlikely to ever be repeated.
In September last year, he reached the milestone of 800 league matches as a manager with clubs from the top five European leagues. Again, a feat that will probably never be repeated.
And to top that, he is one of only seven players ever to win Europe’s biggest competition as both a player and a manager.
He has said publically that when his contract expires in 2024, he will call it a day and draw a line under his glittering football career.
I hope, selfishly, that he doesn’t add another Champions League title to his collection before then, but win or lose there is no doubt that he is one of the greats of the game.
There’s also another twist to this final.
Liverpool won the European Cup as it was back then, in 1981 thanks to a goal by fullback Alan Kennedy.
The opponents that day? Real Madrid. And the location? Paris of course.
So for all of the above reasons, I’m happy it’s Real Madrid that Liverpool will play on the 28th and not Man City.
And just like Mo Salah, I hope it’s the team in red that come out on top. — VNS