Madrid's master meets Juventus apprentice
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Antonio Conte played under Carlo Ancelotti at Juventus between 1999 and 2001, but his admiration will not dull his determination to get the better of Real Madrid CF.
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Carlo Ancelotti sounded an ominous warning by revealing that Real Madrid CF are growing in stature with every game ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group B showdown at home to Juventus.
The Italian coach also recalled fond memories of his two-year stint in charge of the Bianconeri over a decade ago, not least his hair. Antonio Conte was one of his players but now finds himself on the opposing bench. He is eager to draw a line under Saturday's surprising defeat by ACF Fiorentina, even if his side will have to get the better of a team he describes as "amazing".
Carlo Ancelotti, coach
What has changed since I coached Juve? My hair. No, many things. I have more experience now. My experience at Juventus was very important in terms of my growth as a coach and a person. The results were perhaps not great but my experiences and memories from that time are good ones. Juventus have lots of quality players. Arturo Vidal is very important, he's a goal threat who finds pockets of space.
We played well against Málaga at the weekend. I think we have improved since the start of the season. We have more confidence and are playing with greater intensity. Great players can always play together – Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Gareth] Bale have no problem doing so. Cristiano always starts on the wing but often comes inside – that's why he scores 50 goals a season.
Saturday: Real Madrid 2-0 Málaga CF (Di María 46, Ronaldo 90pen)
López; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Illarramendi, Isco (Modrić 73); Di María (Rodríguez 81), Morata (Bale 76), Ronaldo.
• Madrid closed the gap on pacesetters FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid with their fourth home win in the Liga this term.
Gareth Bale sustained a left thigh strain warming up for the Getafe CF game on 22 September, a problem that resurfaced in the defeat by Atlético the following weekend. He returned as a substitute on Saturday, winning a late penalty that Ronaldo converted to seal a 2-0 victory. Karim Benzema (calf), Fábio Coentrão (wisdom tooth) and Raphaël Varane (knee) are all expected to return, while Xabi Alonso is still recovering from a broken foot.
Antonio Conte, coach
It's a very exciting match for us. What happened against Fiorentina has happened many times in more important games, like the UEFA Champions League finals between Milan and Liverpool or Manchester United and Bayern. These things happen in football. Our stats speak for themselves. We have good ball possession and we play offensively.
We always see our mistakes and try to work out solutions. We try to improve and I think we have done these past two and a half years [under Conte]. It's true we are making some individual mistakes we shouldn't be. We are working on it and are sure we can move forward doing what we are doing. Against Fiorentina we suffered our first defeat of the season; now we just think of the next game.
Tomorrow will conjure emotions for everybody. We know it will be a difficult match that will show us how far we can go in the competition. Real Madrid are the most famous team in the world. They have a long, rich history and are an example for everyone. They have a structure to win everything every year. We have studied Real Madrid: their strength is amazing, especially if we give them space.
Real Madrid have huge potential; they can compete with the likes of Bayern. They are potential UEFA Champions League winners but we will be positive; we have no fears. I envy Ancelotti's career as a coach because he has been incredible and he deserves everything he gets. I had the opportunity of working under him for two years and it was a very good experience.
Saturday: ACF Fiorentina 4-2 Juventus (Rossi 66pen 76 80, Joaquín 78; Tévez 37pen Pogba 40)
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Padoin (Motta 83), Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio (Vidal 77), Asamoah (Giovinco 80); Tévez, Llorente.
• Juventus lost for the first time this season. Under Conte, they had never conceded four goals in a Serie A game; they did so in 14 minutes against Fiorentina.
Mirko Vučinić and Stephan Lichtsteiner are still absent after suffering muscle injuries on matchday two. Last Tuesday, Fabio Quagliarella sustained a thigh problem which will keep him sidelined for three weeks.
• The teams have faced each other 14 times – all in the European Cup – with home advantage proving key: Madrid's home record is W4 L2 while Juventus's is W5 L1. They met in the 1998 final in Amsterdam when a 66th-minute Predrag Mijatović goal ended the Merengues's 32-year wait for their seventh European title.