Premier League • England

Champions League final: Carragher warns Ancelotti, not Real Madrid, should worry Liverpool most

Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp Everton v Liverpool June 2020

Liverpool should fear Carlo Ancelotti and his managerial expertise more than the Real Madrid team itself in the Champions League final, Jamie Carragher has said.

The Reds booked their place in the Paris showpiece later this month following a thrilling win over Villarreal. The Spanish side blew Liverpool’s 2-0 semi-final lead away, but Jurgen Klopp’s men responded with three further goals.

And they will subsequently face the Spanish champions Madrid in the final. Los Blancos were two goals down against Manchester City but turned their semi-final on its head with three dramatic goals.

Liverpool and Madrid met in the 2018 final, with the La Liga side winning 3-1 on that occasion. While Klopp lost his third successive shot at silverware, Zinedine Zidane completed a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs with Madrid.

Four years on, though, the circumstances have changed. Liverpool have won five major trophies under Klopp, while Zidane has gone from Madrid. Indeed, Ancelotti is in a second stint as Madrid boss.

His La Liga triumph this season made him the first manager to win all five major European leagues. He has also faced Liverpool twice as a manager and Carragher admitted his former side should fear the 62-year-old.

“Liverpool have no reason to fear Real Madrid in the Champions League final,” Carragher wrote in a column for The Telegraph.

“What should worry them most is my former neighbour, Carlo Ancelotti.

Carragher warns Liverpool of Ancelotti

“Since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, only Pep Guardiola has won more games against Liverpool, Ancelotti enjoying success as Napoli and Everton manager.

“Having faced Ancelotti twice in Champions League finals, I got to know him during his 18-month spell on Merseyside.

“He lived a short walk from my Crosby home, and we would often see each other when he took his daily stroll past the Antony Gormley statues on the beach.

“He used to count them all, noting there were 100 ‘Iron Men’ along the waterfront. There were 101 whenever he was present.”

Liverpool came back from 3-0 down against Ancelotti’s AC Milan in 2005 to win the Champions League in Istanbul. Two years later, Ancelotti settled the score with a 2-1 win in Athens.

Carragher added: “No one knows better than Ancelotti how unpredictable the Champions League is.

“He lost to Liverpool in 2005 with a superior AC Milan side, and won in 2007 when we looked much better equipped to compete.

“Ancelotti, Real Madrid, and Liverpool have already experienced Champions League euphoria and deflation at each others’ expense.

“Another volume will be added to a loaded history book on May 28.”

Champions League final thriller inbound

Luis Diaz, Andy Robertson Villarreal v Liverpool May 2022

Four years on from the final in Kyiv, the circumstances for both clubs have changed.

Madrid have in fact not won the Champions League since 2018 and the 13-time winners are looking for number 14.

Liverpool, meanwhile, can come full circle with a win over Madrid in Paris.

2018 was a pivotal year for Klopp’s evolution of his team. In January, he added Virgil van Dijk to shore up his defence. The loss in Kyiv spurred him on to bring in Alisson Becker as his new goalkeeper.

The two signings have proved pivotal in turning Liverpool into a major European force again.

Madrid still have many of the same faces that started the final in Ukraine. Midfielders Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric are still at the heart of the team, as are Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal.

As such, with so many talking points, the 2022 Champions League final will be one to remember.