Sacchi: “Ancelotti told me: ‘We pretend to be dead and then, suddenly, at the end of the game, we rise again and win!”


Arrigo Sacchi revealed what Carlo Ancelotti told him after Real Madrid’s late win over Bayern Munich: ‘It’s a tactic, Arrigo. We pretend to be dead and then, suddenly, at the end of the game, we rise again and win!’ Writing in his column for La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sacchi was full of praise for the Real Madrid manager, who he spoke with by telephone after the win: ‘He is truly a phenomenon’:

“The first thing I told him when we spoke yesterday morning is that he can’t make me suffer so much. ‘Carlo, I really went through a tough time!’ And he, always wanting to joke: ‘It’s a tactic, Arrigo. We pretend to be dead and then, suddenly, at the end of the game, we rise again and win!’ My friend Ancelotti is truly a phenomenon. We spent over an hour on the phone; I made him recount every detail of how it went, how he saw it from the bench, what he thought, how he prepared for the challenge. And he, dead tired because he had only slept two hours, always available, always kind, always ready to make jokes. My usual Carletto, in short. A patient guy. Always on the field to improve.”

“I immediately congratulated him because he reached the Champions League final for the sixth time. Six times are not few: he won four, two with Milan and two with Real Madrid; he lost one, with Milan; and he will play one in London against Borussia Dortmund. He has come a long way and has shown everyone, even those who considered him on a downward trajectory after the not-so-positive experience with Napoli, that he is still among the best coaches in the world. Do you know why Carlo is good? Because he is a guy who is patient, who has passion for his work, who goes to the field every day and tries to improve his players first and then himself. If someone wins in Italy, in England, in France, in Germany, and in Spain, in the major European leagues, and also puts four Champions League trophies on the shelf (and another final…), he is a bench maestro. On this, no one can have doubts. Sometimes people ask me if, when I brought him alongside me in the national team in 1992, I saw his qualities: I’m not a fortune-teller, so I couldn’t imagine he would reach these levels, but certainly even then Carlo showed that he had the qualities that allow one to achieve success. I told him on the phone: ‘I brought you to Milan because you were a good player, but above all because I knew you as a good person.’ I always looked at the human and character aspect first, and then the technical one.”

“And then I reminded him of when, during a match against Como that we were already winning 3-0, he went on the attack to score the fourth goal and, in the action, even broke a finger. Then that match ended 5-0, Ruud Gullit scored the last goal. Carletto was like that, and he is still like that: always generous beyond any limit, willing to give his soul for the cause. He was on the field, as an excellent midfielder, and he is on the bench, with his calmness, his wisdom, his irony. Everyone loves him, there must be a reason, right?”

“And Carlo is an honest man, always ready to leave the spotlight to others. For example, he told me that the substitution of the fundamental Joselu – author of the decisive brace against Bayern – was suggested by his son Davide, who is a very good assistant. Another coach, maybe, would have kept this secret all to himself, instead he wanted to involve his son in the success, and then the staff, and then all the players, and then the fans at the Bernabeu. This is how a winning group is created, and in fact in Madrid, where I have many friends, starting with president Florentino Perez, everyone tells me they adore him. Now he has won the Liga, fully deservedly, and has reached the Champions League final: the last step is missing to reach the top of the ladder, once again, the fifth!”

“I told him to be careful because Borussia Dortmund under Terzic is a tough team, running and pressing, but I don’t need to remind him of certain details. Knowing him, he has already started studying the moves to face the Germans: Carlo Ancelotti is someone who leaves nothing to chance, he is meticulous, precise, he knows that victory is the result of work, sacrifice, effort, and nothing else.”

“I am curious to see how Mbappé will fit into Real’s system. When such purchases are made, one must always pay attention to how the champion fits into the new reality. But I believe Carlo will also handle this situation. He has created a very strong group in terms of character, and he also repeated this during the phone call. ‘They are all very good guys who have understood the importance of the collective,’ he told me. ‘When it’s like this,’ I replied, ‘you have already come a long way.’ He laughed when I pointed out that Real Madrid is a team for which the field always seems too big. ‘Everyone has to run. Forward and backward,’ I reminded him. And he said, ‘Some prefer to work hard attacking, and some, instead, when it comes to defending, go a little slower.’ So I reminded him how our Milan used to run: Baresi ran, Maldini ran, Donadoni ran, Gullit ran, even you ran… And I added, ‘Our Milan would have massacred your Real, dear Carletto. Pressing, rhythm, speed…’ He didn’t answer me immediately, he thought for a moment and then concluded, ‘It depends on whether I play with Milan or coach Real…’ I repeat: he is truly a phenomenon.”


Serie A obsessive.