Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Del Piero have both backed Carlo Ancelotti to turn things around after his tough start as Real Madrid coach, ahead of Wednesday's match against Juventus in the Champions League.
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Ancelotti has come in for criticism in Spain after some below par performances, but speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Madrid and Juventus, both Cannavaro and Del Piero said their fellow Italian would soon get it right.
Cannavaro told Marca that both of his former sides were struggling to find their best form at the moment.
“The truth is that neither of the two is in good form, the start of the season is being difficult for them,” the 2006 Ballon D’Or winner said. “Madrid have changed a lot. Not just with a new coach coming in, also with very young players replacing established players like Higuain and Ozil, who were adapted to the mentality of the club. Ancelotti is looking for something different in the style and that takes time. Juve, after two magnificent years, maybe lack a bit of hunger.”
Madrid were still coming to terms with the fall-out from three intense seasons under Jose Mourinho, Cannavaro said.
“Madrid have started badly, but we are still in October and there is a long way to go,” he said. “I believe they are still coming to terms with Mourinho’s departure, because he is a coach who makes a huge impression. That has happened in all the other teams he has passed through. He is a coach who provokes a lot of tension and demands a lot. On top of that, there is the youngsters who need to adapt.”
Ancelotti was also looking to change Madrid's style of play, which took time, Cannavaro said.
“Carlo has a lot of experience to overcome this situation,” he said. “He is a coach who likes good football. He grew up in Milan and there, even though it was an Italian team, they looked after the football, it was not just all about results. I believe he is a great coach for Real Madrid.”
Cannavaro’s former Italy and Juve teammate Alessandro Del Piero told AS that he was also sure that Ancelotti would soon get his message across at the Bernabeu.
“You cannot change everything from the first day,” he said. “He works from day to day, game to game, communicating his values to the team, his way of playing football. And in the end the results will come, I am sure of that. Carlo is in the group of coaches who most influenced me, together with [Marcelo] Lippi.”
Del Piero, currently at Australian side Sydney FC, recalled happy memories of playing in the Champions League against Madrid, having been part of a Juve team which squeezed past Madrid in the 2003 semifinals and last 16 in 2005, and also scoring twice in a 2-0 group stages win at the Bernabeu in November 2008.
“In my career I have received great displays of affection, in Europe and in Italy,” he said. “But above them all I remember two moments: the homage from my fans in my last game in Turin and the applause in the Bernabeu after my double in 2008. For me it counted as much as winning an individual trophy. To receive an ovation from these fans at this time was priceless. It was incredible sportsmanship from these fans, their ability to applaud an opponent, even though they were losing.”
The attacker, who turns 39 in November, denied he had been close to joining Madrid in the past, but joked that he could be available on a free transfer next summer.
“My contract in Sydney is up in a year...” he smiled.