Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid’s history helped inspire their sensational Champions League semi-final comeback against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Los Blancos recovered from the brink of defeat to snatch a dramatic 3-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu and book their place in the final in Paris, where they will play Liverpool on May 28.
Ancelotti’s side fell 5-3 behind on aggregate when Riyad Mahrez stuck for City in the 73rd minute, but Rodrygo struck twice in the space of 91 seconds to force extra-time.
And the hosts turned the tie on its head when Karim Benzema’s penalty set up a showdown with Liverpool and a repeat of the 2018 final, which Madrid won 3-1 in Kyiv thanks to a stunning Gareth Bale cameo.
It was the third successive round in which the 13-time champions came from behind, having done the same against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively.
Ancelotti is set to become the first manager to oversee five Champions League finals, and the Italian was full of praise for the determination demonstrated by his players.
“I cannot say we are used to living this kind of life,” he told reporters. “But what happened tonight, it happened against Chelsea and also against PSG.
“If you have to say why, it is the history of this club that helps us to keep going when it seems that we are gone. It gives you the strength to follow, to continue, to believe.
“The match was very competitive, but the team has not lowered its arms. Much of the merit is of the players, and of the fans who push inside and outside the stadium – in the previous days as well.
“The game was close to finished, and we managed to find the last energy we had. We played a good game against a strong rival. When we are able to equalise, we had a psychological advantage in extra-time.
“It was difficult as City had control of the game but at the last opportunity, we were able to go to extra-time.”
Ancelotti joined Madrid at the end of last season for a second spell in charge, having led Los Blancos to ‘La Decima’ during his first stint.
He became the first coach to win all of Europe’s big five leagues when Madrid wrapped up a 35th LaLiga title on Saturday, and now can look forward to a reunion with Liverpool, who this time last year would have been considered his biggest rivals while the 62-year-old was in charge of Everton.
Ancelotti led Everton to their first win in a Merseyside at Anfield since 1999 in February 2021, and he is relishing going up against Jurgen Klopp’s team once more.
“The feeling is that I am very happy, to participate in another final against a great team, I played against them as a player and as a coach,” said Ancelotti, who beat Liverpool in the 2007 final with Milan, but famously lost on penalties to the Reds two years earlier in Istanbul.
“I lived there [in Liverpool] for two years. For me, it’s like a derby, I still support Everton.”