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Don Carlo Ancelotti has yet another Champions League final date

Don Carlo Ancelotti has yet another Champions League final date
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates the defeat of Bayern Munich in the Uefa Champions League semi-final second leg in Madrid, Spain. 8 May 2024. (Photo: Alberto Gardin/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate in their Champions League semifinal to set up a final with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. It will be manager Carlo Ancelotti’s sixth final in the continental competition.

If you are involved in soccer at any level, the chances are high that you have a dream of one day taking part in the Uefa Champions League. In whatever capacity. It is one of the most prestigious competitions in the sporting realm.

So, the fact that Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has not only managed numerous games in the competition but is entering a record sixth Champions League final is a testament to his tactical brilliance.

‘Don Carlo’ (as Ancelotti is affectionately referred to) and his Madrid charges fought back from one goal down to grab a late 2-1 win against German heavyweights Bayern Munich in the second leg of their continental bout.

Carlo Ancelotti

Antonio Rudiger of Real Madrid celebrates with team-mate Vinicius Junior and coach Carlo Ancelotti at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. 8 May 2024. (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Sporadically-used Spanish striker Joselu helped Los Blancos seal a tight 4-3 aggregate win in the two-legged clash after he netted a brace as the game seemed to be coming to a conclusion in Bayern’s favour.

In the 1 June decider, which will be played at London’s Wembley Stadium, 14-time European champions, Madrid will be taking part in an 18th final in the Champions League. From the ones they have played previously, they have only lost thrice, with their last final defeat in the competition coming in 1981 versus Liverpool.

Joselu of Real Madrid

Joselu of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his team’s first goal against Bayern Munich. (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Determined Dortmund

Los Blancos’ opponents on the night will be Borussia Dortmund. The Germans upset Kylian Mbappe and his Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammates with a 2-0 aggregate victory in the other semifinal.

While Madrid have played and won more finals than any other side in the history of the European club contest, Dortmund will be playing in just their third decider. Of the two preceding the upcoming final, they won one and lost the other. They beat Juventus to the title in 1997.

At Wembley in just under a month, it will be a story of David versus Goliath. This will be true in the dugout as well.

Whereas Ancelotti is ‘Mr Champions League’, with a record four titles and six finals in the competition, Dortmund’s manager Edin Terzić will be appearing in just his second major final as a manager.

In 2021, as an interim manager, the 41-year-old guided Dortmund to German Cup glory. Three years later he is in his first European final.

Carlo Ancelotti

Coach Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid, Joel Matip of Liverpool FC and Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid during their 2023 Champions League clash. (Photo: David S Bustamante / Soccrates / Getty Images)

Don Carlo

Ancelotti, 64, has won almost every trophy available while coaching in countries such as his homeland Italy, as well as in England, France, Germany and now Spain. Throughout these years he has remained relevant and competitive, especially in the Champions League.

If the European competition is the equivalent of WrestleMania, Ancelotti is the Undertaker. This latest final will add more weight to his already incredible legacy.

Madrid midfield maestro Jude Bellingham, who has been in exceptional form since joining the Spanish giants from Dortmund before the beginning of this season, highlighted Ancelotti’s managerial qualities recently.

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid (right) in action against Joshua Kimmich of FC Bayern Munchen at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. 8 May 8 2024. (Photo: Alberto Gardin/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

“The sign of a good manager is when he makes you believe you are a bit better. He gives me the freedom to roam,” Bellingham said. “He’s a top person. He makes me feel comfortable.”

Last season, after Madrid lost La Liga to bitter rivals Barcelona and were humbled 5-1 on aggregate in the semifinals of the Champions League by eventual champions Manchester City, Ancelotti’s relevance was questioned.

This season, after continued trust and support from Madrid’s hierarchy, he has responded to his critics by recapturing the Spanish league title, and now reaching the Champions League final.

“It’s happened again (thanks to) fans that push (us), a stadium that helps, a fantastic atmosphere and players who never stop believing that they can do it. It’s something magical, there’s no explanation for it,” said the Italian manager after reaching his sixth Champions League final.

One more night of magic awaits at Wembley. Dortmund won’t be easy though. They showed their class and resilience against PSG, despite being underdogs in that tie as well. DM

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