Real Madrid travel to Munich hungry to secure a spot in the Champions League final for the first time since 2002 and end the jinx of La Décima and their coach Carlo Ancelotti says winning 10th European title would be incredible.
Carlo Ancelotti talked to ‘Champions Matchday’ magazine about the importance of ‘La Décima’ for Real Madrid and the thrilling prospect of leading ‘Los Blancos’ to glory in his first season at the Bernabéu: “It’s a very important competition for this club, especially because if we win it this season it will be the club’s 10th European Cup. That would be really special for everyone. And the sooner we win it, the better. It would be incredible if we did it in my first year here”.
The distance between Madrid’s ninth European Cup and their 10th can be measured in several big numbers: almost a dozen years; close to a billion euros spent on transfer fees. Alternatively, there is the hair’s breadth margin of a penalty shoot-out loss in the semi-final two years ago, against Bayern Munich, to whose home Madrid on Tuesday take a 1-0 first-leg lead, hopeful of breaking the stubborn barrier between themselves and a Champions League final.
Real coach also discussed the progress made over the course of the campaign: “We have come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season. This team is extremely strong going forward and is full of quality players, so we are striving to take full advantage of that. We have a clear idea of what we want to do right now and are putting in good performances and being very efficient up front”.
On his preferred 4-3-3 system, he noted: “It allows us to play an attacking game that capitalises on the players’ strengths. We make heavy use of the wings, we have defenders who push forward a lot and get involved in attack, so it’s not all about individual skill. It’s a team effort”.
“We’ve tailored the system to the players’ attributes. We have great players up front, like Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, and this system aims to get the most out of them”.
Lastly, Ancelotti admitted that capturing just the Spanish Cup isn’t enough: “We have to try to win another trophy, whether it’s the league or the Champions League”.
La Décima, the 10th, is one of the first phrases new, foreign players pick up when they join Real Madrid. They quickly recognise it as shorthand for an obsession. The club have been proprietorial about the European Cup since the competition began.
Ancelotti, chasing a possible treble, knows his president’s priority, which is why he rested Bale for the pursuit of an important three points on Saturday night against Osasuna – a 4-0 stroll – and why Ronaldo, in spite of the player’s determined and accelerated recovery from a tendonitis lay-off, was not selected for the Cup final 12 days ago.