Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone, two coaches with strong character who embodied the pinnacle of Spanish football in the early 2010s, face off again on Sunday (9:00 p.m.) in the derby between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.
Who will be the king of the Spanish capital? Opposed on the benches but united by the same qualities as managers of men, the affable Italian Carlo Ancelotti and the volcanic Argentinian Diego Simeone, qualified for the round of 16 of the Champions League, arrive in top form at this already essential derby in the title race in Spain. If they win, Real Madrid, leader (39 points), could relegate Atlético 13 points behind them in the standings before the break, although the Colchoneros have one game less. If Simeone approaches the decade spent on the bench of the rojiblanco club (December 23), Ancelotti had spent only two seasons on the merengue bench (2013-2015) before his return this summer. But in two years, the two technicians had faced each other 13 times, forging a rivalry still alive today.
After the departure of Zinedine Zidane at the end of last season, it is “Carletto“, His predecessor, who was called to the bedside of a club in decline, which was unable to moult after the historic treble in the Champions League between 2016 and 2018. While “Zizouhad regretted, in his farewell letter, the lack ofsupport” and of “trust” from the club, Ancelotti was called to put the human in the management of the “White House“. If his appointment surprised the Spanish press, the results were immediate. Real was coming out of a white season, without any title won, and “He Mister” directly hoisted the merengue club towards the knockout stages of the Champions League and at the top of La Liga, with a comfortable lead over their pursuers (8 points over Sevilla FC, 10 over Atlético, 16 over Barça. ..).
Not so different methods
Ancelotti shines with the method that has made his success: his adaptation to the talents at his disposal and his management of the group. The Italian, for example, has finally hatched the Brazilian prodigy Vinicius, who combines perfectly with Karim Benzema. The two top scorers in La Liga (10 and 12 goals respectively) could also be associated on Sunday, the French center-forward having treated his pain in the left leg which deprived him of the Champions League match against Inter Milan on Tuesday (2-0 victory). Qualities ultimately not so far from those of Diego Simeone. The bubbling Argentinian technician was once again present this week in the Champions League.
While observers thought his method was running out of steam, the “Sholo» instilled the necessary motivation in his players, who swept Porto at home on Tuesday (3-1) to grab their ticket for the round of 16. “They have more individual qualities now, but they have kept the same mentality before“, Estimated Ancelotti about the men of his counterpart from Atlético, Saturday at a press conference. “To do what Simeone does at Atlético, to stay ten years in a club and mark it with his passage, it is the dream of any coachadded the Italian. Deprived of several executives, especially in defense (Kieran Trippier, Stefan Savic, José Maria Giménez and Sime Vrsaljko), Simeone will however be able to count on the “gunslinger» Uruguayan Luis Suarez, injured and in tears on Tuesday in Porto but who will be fit to play on Sunday according to the coach.
Atlético back to the wall
Atlético risk big, having to win at all costs not to say goodbye to their chances of retaining their title of champion of Spain, but it is perhaps in this position that Simeone is the strongest. As electric on the bench as laconic in a press conference, the Argentinian has perhaps the most talented and deepest squad in all of La Liga this season… and manages it to perfection. Players like Marcos Llorente, Yannick Carrasco or even Antoine Griezmann (Tuesday) accepted without hesitation to play in a different position for the needs of the team. But on Sunday, Ancelotti is counting on a victory to balance his accounts: so far, in 13 duels with the two coaches at the head of the two main clubs in the capital, there have been 4 draws, 4 wins for “Carlettoand 5 for the “Sholo“.