The man responsible for Madrid’s fabled La Decima triumph against their great city rivals believes Atletico are built in the image of their Argentine coach and puts a large part…
Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone as a “fantastic leader” ahead of the Champions League final against Real Madrid, saying the Argentine is a master motivator of his players.
Simeone has led Atletico to their second Champions League final in three seasons following their defeat to Ancelotti’s Real in Lisbon in 2014. This season Atletico have toppled tournament favourites Barcelona as well as Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and are ready to go all the way in San Siro under the tutelage of their inspirational manager.
Simeone has forged a strong bond with his charges resulting in Atletico punching above their weight in Europe as well as La Liga and Ancelotti puts the club’s recent success down to that factor.
“Simeone is a fantastic leader,” Ancelotti told Goal. “The players of Atletico Madrid have fantastic trust and confidence in their manager. He has been able to build not only a tactical or technical relationship but also a personal relationship.
“The players are really convinced about what they do; they are doing it for their team-mates, for their club, for their fans. This is down to the motivation of the manager.
“Everyone in the world of Atletico Madrid recognise the quality and motivation that Simeone brings to the club, the players and the supporters.”
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The three-time Champions League winning manager also drew comparisons between Atletico and his former club AC Milan where success under Arrigo Sacchi, who won two European Cups, was underpinned by academy products in the first team.
Gabi, Koke, Saul Niguez, Oliver Torres and Fernando Torres are among the first-team stars who were nurtured at Vicente Calderon from a young age.
“The fact the players were born in Atletico Madrid gives them more pride when they put on the shirt,” says Ancelotti. “It was the same in Barcelona and Milan.
“Milan built its fortune with the academy – Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Filippo Galli, Alberigo Erani. It’s true they had the three Dutch players – Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten – but behind them was an academy with five or six players who were really proud when they put on the shirt.”