Ancelotti Hungry For European Glory
Written by Craig Wilmann
Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius, tells the tale of one of the most decorated figures in European football history. Yet there are times in the book when you could be forgiven for thinking you are reading the anecdotes of a manager of restaurants rather than football teams. Indeed, from antipasto to gorgonzola, Ancelotti mentions almost every type of food imaginable, and that’s just in the first page.
What stirs the Chelsea manager’s appetite more than anything else, however, is success and one trophy in particular will always be top of his menu. While he jokes that the Community Shield is his favourite trophy because it is shaped like a plate, it is the Champions League he savours most of all. In his own words:
“The Champions League is more important than anything else. There’s only one class of people who would disagree with me: those who haven’t been able to win it.”
Of his current Chelsea squad, only Paulo Ferreira and Nicolas Anelka are exempt from that particular class, having tasted European success with Porto and Real Madrid, respectively. However, the importance of Europe’s premier club competition is unlikely to be lost on the rest of the squad, most of whom have experienced crushing elimination over the years, and with many key players entering the twilight of their careers, they will be hungrier than ever to claim that elusive Champions League.
With a blend of youth and experience and a manager who knows how to win the competition, Chelsea have all the ingredients required to deliver club football’s ultimate prize. However, this has been the case before and one issue for Chelsea is whether the squad can cope with a run to the Champions League final, as well as a sustained assault on the Premier League. Last year’s early elimination at the hands of Inter Milan left the Blues clear to focus on the league. For Chelsea to go the distance in both competitions, they may need to have significant breathing space at the top of the Premier League by the time the knockout rounds of the Champions League commence. Nonetheless, the prospect of Chelsea finally lifting their first Champions League trophy at Wembley, and subsequently becoming the first London team to win the competition is, quite simply, mouth-watering.