Carlo Ancelotti has said he’s not annoyed by talk of Manchester City as Champions League favourites — but insisted that Spanish and Italian teams can still compete with big-spending Premier League clubs.
City beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in their Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday, with Ancelotti’s Madrid beating Chelsea 2-0 a day later to set up a potential semifinal showdown with City.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
Madrid have won five Champions Leagues in the last nine seasons — including last year’s final against Liverpool in Paris — while City are yet to win European football’s biggest prize.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Friday, when asked about City’s status as favourites to win the competition this season. “English football has teams that compete very well. They’re very strong. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’re favourites.
“But in Europe we’re seeing the opposite. Last year Spanish football had two teams [Real Madrid and Villarreal] in the [Champions League] semifinals, this year Italy has three teams [Napoli, AC Milan and Inter] in the quarterfinals.”
Ancelotti’s Madrid have an outstanding record against Premier League opposition — beating Chelsea, City and Liverpool last year, and eliminating Liverpool in this season’s round-of-16.
“European football is more competitive than people think, above all the English, who think they have the strongest league, the most spectacular,” Ancelotti said. “But when they play in Europe they compete against other leagues and teams with less money to invest, but who keep competing, like the Spanish.”
Ancelotti said he wouldn’t swap Madrid’s in-form winger Vinicius Junior for City’s Erling Haaland, calling both “fantastic players.”
The Italian coach also said that despite speculation about his future — being linked to the vacant Brazil national team job — he expected to remain in charge at the Bernabeu next season, with a contract that runs until 2024.
“I think [president Florentino Perez] wants me to carry on,” Ancelotti said. “He’s always been very affectionate [with me] and he still is… The club is calm and I’m sure we’ll be here next season, because we’re going to respect my contract.”
Madrid will travel to Cadiz on Saturday 13 points behind leaders Barcelona in the LaLiga table, with Ancelotti confirming that Vinicius and midfielder Toni Kroos will both miss out with minor muscular injuries.