Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has praised interim Chelsea boss Frank Lampard ahead of the two clubs’ Champions League clash on Wednesday night.
Ancelotti managed Chelsea when Frank Lampard was still in his playing days. They enjoyed some successful times together before the Italian’s departure from Stamford Bridge.
Now, the pair face off against one another in the dugout for a place in the UCL semi-finals.
Despite the crucial and competitive nature of the tie, Ancelotti had kind words for Frank Lampard. Speaking in a press conference, he praised his coaching counterpart.
“I’m 63 and he’s 44, so I have 20 more years’ experience than him. But that won’t change what happens in the game,” said the Real Madrid boss, via ESPN. “Lampard was a really great player; I was lucky to coach him. He was a fantastic, extraordinary professional.
“He knows what can happen in these games and how to prepare a team for these matches. Experience doesn’t mean much. He knows a lot of the players – he’ll do well for sure.”
When asked about his former club’s difficult season, Ancelotti was sympathetic to the Blues’ woes.
“I’m sad, yes. I have fantastic memories of this club and the people who are still working there. I’m a Chelsea supporter, of course. I had a good two years there.”
However, the Italian put any speculation of a return to the blue side of London to bed swiftly.
“[Would I] go back? No,” he added. “I think and I hope Lampard is able to do a fantastic job with them.”
For both Frank Lampard and Carlo Ancelotti, this UCL quarterfinal is vital to saving their teams’ seasons.
Real Madrid v Chelsea: two campaigns hanging in the balance
In Los Blancos’ case, they still have the reprieve of a Copa del Rey final next month. But unfortunately, Real have all but surrendered their La Liga crown. Following a 3-2 defeat to Villarreal on Saturday, Madrid are 13-points adrift of Barcelona.
So, Ancelotti and Co. will look to at least keep hold of the club’s favourite trophy – the Champions League.
Contrastingly, this competition is the sole beacon of hope in Chelsea’s torrid season. They are 11th in the league and eliminated from the FA Cup. With Frank Lampard in charge, they are also on their third manager of 2022/23.
Somehow, their multitude of massive transfers have not yet gelled to produce results. Maybe this will change in their European adventure.
The Blues and Real have become familiar foes in recent years, facing off in the last two Champions League campaigns.
Previous ties between Madrid and Chelsea
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side overcame the Galacticos on their way to the club’s second Champions League triumph in 2020/21. In that year’s competition, the Blues met the La Liga giants at the semi-final stage.
A 1-1 first leg in Spain left the tie finely balanced heading back to Stamford Bridge. Once back home, Chelsea took care of business with a 2-0 win via goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount. The Premier League side then, of course, went on to win the Champions League, beating Man City in the final.
One season later, Real Madrid exacted their revenge on the Blues. The duel between the two European giants came one round earlier than 2020/21, at the quarter-final stage.
Los Blancos stole a great advantage in the first leg at the Bridge. They won 3-1, thanks to a stellar hat-trick from Karim Benzema. But Chelsea weren’t ready to go down without a fight.
In the second leg, the English club had a 3-0 lead at the Bernabeu, meaning they were going through with 10 minutes left. Unfortunately, though, an inspirational Luka Modric assisted Rodrygo to send the tie to extra time.
During the additional 30 minutes, Karim Benzema was the hero once more. He scored to send Madrid through 5-4 on aggregate, even though Chelsea won the second leg 3-2. Real went on to win the title in 2021/22, just as the Blues did the year before.
So, whoever wins this year’s tie will clearly carry a good omen with them for the rest of the competition. We will see if Frank Lampard can get the better of his old boss Ancelotti in the first leg on Wednesday night.
Featured image credit: Getty