They say winning is a habit. They also say it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. One can only imagine what they might say about Carlo Ancelotti’s relationship with winning as Real Madrid’s regal manager racks up another honour, 43 years after his first in football.
After a player career during Serie A’s golden age and a managerial sojourn around Europe’s elite, Ancelotti has piled up cups at a greedy rate. Yet, when one of the modern game’s most successful coaches takes charge of Europe’s – if not the world’s – most successful club, the march towards trophies grows even quicker.
Ancelotti collected his ninth medal in charge of Real Madrid with Los Blancos’ victory in the Club World Cup at Al Hilal’s expense. Here are the other gongs the man fondly known as Don Carlo has hoarded during his time in Madrid.
At the business end of his debut season in Real Madrid’s dugout, Ancelotti oversaw his first piece of Blancos-tinted silverware. Gareth Bale, also in his maiden campaign in the Spanish capital, lit up the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, tiptoeing beyond the confines of the pitch to bypass Marc Bartra and score an 85th-minute winner.
The previous year, during the dog days of Jose Mourinho’s toxic reign, Real Madrid had lost the Copa del Rey showpiece to Atletico Madrid in their own stadium. Ancelotti restored Real’s name to the trophy and quickly sought out revenge over their city rivals.
“I ran into Carlito in a restaurant,” Oscar ‘El Profe’ Ortega, Atletico’s long-serving fitness coach, remembered. “A great guy. We started to talk and he says: ‘Profe, don’t say anything else. You get the league, we get the Champions League.’ A man with a lot of experience.” Ancelotti’s prediction proved prescient as Real defeated Atletico in the 2014 European showpiece after finishing third in La Liga.
In less than 12 months, Ancelotti accomplished what 11 predecessors had failed to do; win Real Madrid a tenth European Cup. At the end of the first season of his second spell, Ancelotti claimed the club’s 14th continental title. Los Blancos beat Liverpool with a relatively sedate 1-0 win in Paris after an extraordinary run through the knockout stages which saw victory snatched from the jaws of defeat on multiple occasions.
Not among his most sought-after pots but Ancelotti isn’t one to pass up the chance of a trophy. The Italian tactician had arrived in Madrid with plans of playing Cristiano Ronaldo through the middle yet pivoted instantly after the Portuguese superstar expressed concerns in the first team meeting. Ronaldo scored twice in 2014 to defeat Europa League winners Sevilla from the left flank.
Karim Benzema may have been jettisoned had Ancelotti’s initial plans for Ronaldo come to fruition. The Frenchman not only outlasted Ronaldo in the Spanish capital but has claimed a Ballon d’Or more recently than his former strike partner under Ancelotti’s supervision.
Benzema, whose description as solely a striker “stopped short” for Ancelotti, scored Madrid’s second in their 2022 triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt, sealing victory after David Alaba’s opener.
Incidentally, both of Real Madrid’s Club World Cup victories under Ancelotti came in Morocco. The veteran Italian – who won the 1989 Intercontinental Cup as a Milan player – steered Madrid to a 2-0 victory in 2014 over Argentina’s San Lorenzo in Marrakesh.
Nine years later, Ancelotti was again at the helm as Los Blancos defeated the first-ever Saudi Arabian finalists, Al Hilal, in Rabat.
Ancelotti passed up his first chance to snag the Supercopa de Espana – Spain’s equivalent of the Community Shield – in 2014, losing a two-legged final to those pesky neighbours Atletico.
By the time Ancelotti had returned to the Spanish capital – an accidental reunion sparked by the Italian enquiring after some Madrid players as Everton manager – the Supercopa had been expanded to a four-team tournament held in Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, after navigating extra time in a Clasico semi-final against Barcelona, Ancelotti oversaw a 2-0 victory against Athletic Club in the showpiece.
After replicating his playing days by winning Serie A as Milan coach, claiming the Premier League with Chelsea, snagging Ligue 1 at the helm of PSG and adding another Bundesliga to Bayern Munich’s collection, Ancelotti became the first manager ever to complete the set of European league titles with Real Madrid’s 2022 La Liga triumph.
Puffing away on a cigar, with a bejewelled set of black sunglasses and Vinicius Junior hanging off his shoulders, Ancelotti’s celebration in the summer of 2022 was a particularly imperious moment of success. Not many would bet against more to come in the future.