Real-City: Carletto’s violins against Pep’s orchestra. The technicians of Milan and Inter deserve the scene
May 8 – Milan
Brazil, a paradise of the game, to return to winning a World Cup after more than 20 years, thought of Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola. There will be a reason. The titanic clash between the two coaches of Real Madrid and Manchester City spectacularly launches the semi-finals of the Champions League. Simply the cross between two of the most successful and charismatic coaches in history. With the recent Copa del Rey, Carletto reached 26 trophies, of which 10 won at Real which, as a club, reached 100.
In these two years, Ancelotti has won all the competitions in which he has participated: 6. Now he’s aiming for a new Champions League. As a player he won 2, as a coach 4, more than anyone else. It takes no ceremony in Westminster to call him King Charles. Guardiola won one as a midfielder and two as a coach, all in Barcelona, the last in 2011. So a gap of 12 years and no triumphs in Munich and Manchester. Anyone who suspects an allergy from Pep to the big-eared trophy should bear in mind, however, that only one coach has reached the Champions League semi-final 10 times: him. With 32 trophies, the Catalan is the fifth most successful in history, behind Ferguson (49), Lucescu (37), Stein (35), Lobanovskyj (33).
an Italian thread
Obviously, the derby between Stefano Pioli and Simone Inzaghi, newcomers at these heights, is less iconic and planetary. But they are not two illegitimate crashers. There is a tricolor thread that binds the four candidates to the throne of Europe, a veneer of Italian spirit that makes them homogeneous. Three out of four semi-finalists are Italian, the fourth played in our country from 2001 to 2003 (Rome, Brescia) and has slipped the wise humanity of Carlo Mazzone into his professional background. But, above all, Ancelotti and Guardiola are brothers, as children of Arrigo Sacchi’s football.
Carlo directly, Pep through the mediation of Cruijff. The idea is the same: a game of domination and beauty, offensive and collective. Both are still tied to Sacchi by a thread of phone calls. Arrigo reminds Carlo of the importance of team development, when Madrid seem too dependent on the individual plays of Vinicius and Rodrygo; Arrigo points out to Pep that City’s dribble becomes sterile if there is no movement and the ball only lands on the feet and does not travel in space.
carlo and 10
But if Ancelotti and Guardiola have come so far, like none of Sacchi’s many emulators, it is because they have been able to enrich the lesson with their own ideas, in tune with the new times. Carletto started from a religious respect for the tactical dogma which led him to distrust the anarchy of the number 10s, so much so that he closed the Parma door in the face of Zola and Baggio. Over time, he understood the magic and conquered the world with a Milan full of number 10s. He had one behind (Pirlo), one in the middle (Seedorf) and one in front (Rui Costa-Kakà). Over time, Ancelotti, without prejudice to the skilful tactical framework, has become the best talent developer on the square. There’s no player who hasn’t adored him, because he is valued to the fullest of his potential and understood in his own needs. There is no coach more empathetic than Carlo. Humanity is his real talent, his superpower.
pep ei 9
Guardiola’s talent is the sensitivity with which he has continuously updated his idea, to make it unpredictable, keeping the principles firm. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City are different worlds, signed by the same hand. More dogmatic, less empathetic, Pep had more difficulty than Carletto in shrinking in front of the size of a star. The failed transplant of Ibrahimovic in his Barcelona is exemplary. Guardiola liked the empty space much better, freed up by the fake 9 Messi. He loved the idea of a star centre-forward more. Ibra called him the Philosopher to underline his dry heart, drained by thought and so far from Ancelotti’s empathy. But here too the Catalan grew up, following Ancelotti’s path, and now he shows no signs of impatience with the popularity of Erling Haaland who is inexorably branding City. He knows well that, if many predict his band of setters, after so many vain assaults, it is thanks to the Norwegian monster. Ballon d’Or Benzema against Haaland who will become one; the summit of visionaries Modric-De Bruyne; Ancelotti’s violins against Guardiola’s orchestra; Real Madrid, which has won the most European Cups (14) of all, and which in the Champions League plays in slippers, like in the living room at home, against Manchester City, which has never won one: let’s prepare our eyes. Better show, does not exist.
But we will also have fun on Wednesday. Pioli is another son of Sacchi. He won an unexpected Scudetto like Arrigo did in ’88: with a courageous, quality game that made Milan stronger than the sum of the individuals and superior to better equipped teams. Sacchi was often critical of Inzaghi, due to an alleged, exaggerated dependence on restarts. In reality, the direction of Simone’s work was precisely Sacchi’s: an increasingly dominant and quality game, thanks to the enhancement of Mkhitaryan and Calhanoglu; increasingly intense and aggressive, thanks to the athletic power of the Nerazzurri squad. The streak of four victories in the championship has just confirmed this virtuous evolution. Pioli and Inzaghi are not posted. They look good in the Fantastic 4.
May 8, 2023 (change May 8, 2023 | 09:56)
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