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Ancelotti answers Calcio critics

Whatever the outcome of the UEFA Champions League final, AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is a content man.

Close encounter
Sharing a coffee with uefa.com at Milanello, the club's sumptuous training headquarters some 30 miles north of Milan, 43-year-old Ancelotti said: "The two teams know each other so well, and this is a cup match, it will be very even." He confirmed Juventus coach Marcello Lippi's view that both teams are well prepared both physically and psychologically for the first-ever all-Italian European final. "The game could be decided by a simple mistake, an error, a backheel, anything," he pointed out.

Important occasion
Ancelotti admitted that Old Trafford will be the perfect stage for the two Serie A giants, who will both feel an added stimulus to put on a good show for Italian football. "It should be a good image for 'calcio', for the behaviour of the fans, the players, [the] kind of football played, for everything. This is important, after Italy's failure at last year's [FIFA] World Cup, it will be a chance to show ourselves in a good light."

Critics take note
He is keenly aware that this is Serie A's chance to prove wrong the foreign media which has derided an alleged defensiveness by its representatives in the Champions League this season. "The final will provide Italian football with the chance to show what it can do. We will be able to give a good shoulder charge to those critics."

Previous trip
Ancelotti well remembers his last visit to Old Trafford, as manager of Juventus in a 1-1 semi-final first leg in 1999. "Then, after that we lost the second leg at home 3-2," he recalled. "After being 2-0 up as well," he laughed.

Hard part done
Although pressure is building each day in Italy ahead of the game, for Ancelotti the worst has already passed. "That was the semi-final against Internazionale [FC]," he said, shaking his head. "The pressure then was enormous. Because it was Inter, and because it was the semi-final. Now, there isn't [the] pressure of getting to the final. We're there. Whether we win or lose, we are there."

Chance lost
After that Milanese derby, Ancelotti was very critical of the Italian media, launching a scathing attack against the way the game had been billed as a head to head between himself and Inter coach Héctor Cúper, with the loser's job said to be on the line. "That really annoyed me. We lost a good chance to give a good image for the Italian game, instead they talked about me versus Cúper. They do it just to sell more newspapers."

Successful season
He also dismisses any talk that defeat in the final would mean that this has been an unsuccessful season for his Milan side. He points to the fact that his team have been in the top three throughout the Serie A season, and they are well set in the two-legged domestic cup final. "And we are in the final of the Champions League, so whether we win or lose it has been a successful season. The critics shouldn't judge a team, a coach, on the result of one match. For us, we have played 58 games this season." Ancelotti then finished his coffee and, with a relaxed smile, left to take the afternoon training session under a hot Italian sun.