Why Carlo Ancelotti is the top manager in the world as he chases Champions League title with Real Madrid

Published on May, 31 2024

Carlo Ancelotti is the best manager in the world right now. That might sound like a bit of a strong statement, but it's the reality. Ancelotti has an unprecedented opportunity on Saturday against Borussia Dortmund, where his Real Madrid will face the German side in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley (as always you can catch coverage of all the action across CBS, Paramount+, CBS Sports Golazo Network and CBS Sports Network). Ancelotti is already the most decorated manager in Champions League history, having won the competition four times as a coach (twice with AC Milan and twice with Real Madrid). By winning the final on Saturday, he can win his fifth Champions League as manager. Those numbers speak for themselves. 

Aneclotti's uncertain coaching beginnings

Ancelotti is a serial winner, as he is also the first and only manager to have coached teams in six Champions League finals. As a player, he won the Champions League twice in 1989 and 1990 with AC Milan, making him one of seven people to have won the competition as both a player and a manager. However, his coaching career didn't start with the same credibility and winning path. Carletto, as they call him, made his first coaching steps as an assistant of his former manager and mentor Arrigo Sacchi on the Italian national team, where they lost the 1994 World Cup in the U.S.A. on penalties in the final against Brazil. 

He started his first team coaching career at Reggiana in the Italian second division and then at Parma, a team that was used to playing for, and winning, European trophies. However, Ancelotti was dismissed after his second season at the club and waited six months before finding a new job at Juventus. The Bianconeri spell wasn't successful, and despite winning the Intertoto Cup, Ancelotti's team lost the Italian Serie A to Lazio in his second season at Juventus, though only by one point after a defeat against Perugia on the last matchday of the season. After two and a half seasons, Juventus chapter ended one year later. 

Ancelotti's history of winning starts at AC Milan

The Ancelotti winning era as manager started at AC Milan, where he was appointed in fall 2001 to replace Fatih Terim. Step by step, and also thanks to an incredible team that featured Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta, and Andriy Shevchenko among others, Ancelotti finally won his first major trophy as manager, and also his first Champions League in 2003, after beating city rivals Inter in the semifinals and his former club Juventus on penalties in the final played in Manchester. One year later, Ancelotti won the Italian Serie A title with AC Milan, while in 2005 he was the coach of one of the most dramatic Champions League finals in history, when Liverpool made a comeback from 0-3 to 3-3 in the Istanbul final and later won afterr penalties. Ancelotti and AC Milan waited two more years before having their revenge and won the Athens final against the same side coached by Rafa Benitez. Ancelotti left AC Milan in 2009 after winning one Serie A title, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana, two Champions League titles, two European Supercups and one Club World Cup. 


After his AC Milan spell, Ancelotti was called by Chelsea owner Roman Abrahmovic to become their manager. In his two years in the Premier League, Ancelotti won the Community Shield once, the Premier League in his first season at the club, and the FA Cup. It took six months before finding a new club, as in January 2012 PSG appointed Ancelotti to become the new manager. In his one year and half at the club, Ancelotti won the LIgue 1 title, but in the summer 2013 he became the new Real Madrid coach for the first time and left the French giants

Ancelotti's first Real Madrid stint

The Real Madrid chapter was immediately successful, as Ancelotti was able to manage a team full of stars such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and many others. At Madrid, Ancelotti won the historical Decima Champions League against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon before stepping down and being replaced by Zinedine Zidane, his former assistant at the club. After his first Madrid spell, Bayern Munich appointed Ancelotti where he coached until September 2017 and won the Bundesliga before leaving the club. Then, Ancelotti coached Napoli and Everton, where for the first time since his Parma experience, he didn't win a single trophy. They were different experiences, where Ancelotti was called to revive the two sides, and seemed to start his descending experience as manager. It seemed that the great manager was poised to ride off into the sunset. However, Ancelotti showed us otherwise.


A triumphant return to Real Madrid

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez decided to appoint Ancelotti again in the summer 2021, in one of the smartest decisions of the game. Ancelotti brought back his winning mentality and also the human relationship he has with the players, one if not his best strength as manager. In three years, Real Madrid won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Supercups, one Copa del Rey, one UEFA Super Cup, one Club World Cup and most importantly one Champions League. His relationship with the players, his attitude and also the fact that he was able to be back to the highest levels of the game make him the best manager among the top ones. Saturday's final against Borussia Dortmund can only be another confirmation. 

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