MADRID, Spain, May 3 – As Real Madrid celebrated winning the La Liga title, Carlo Ancelotti was already trying to build momentum in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City.
Madrid beat Espanyol 4-0 on Saturday and the players celebrated in Plaza Cibeles after an open-top bus made its way through the city to the statue where players and fans still carry their greatest trophies.
“And now to Wednesday, yes we can!” Ancelotti shouted to the adoring crowd, who chanted “si, se puede!”, “Yes, we can!”
Many had wondered if the celebrations were appropriate or sensible, given that they were sandwiched between the two gigantic games against City, particularly after Pep Guardiola’s side left Madrid to perform another lifesaving act. after the 4-3 defeat of the Spanish champions in the first leg. .
Beyond concerns about recovery or fatigue, it has been suggested that dwelling on a 35th Spanish league title could reduce, however subconsciously, some of the need and desperation to chase after a 14th European Cup. Europe.
But Ancelotti had no doubt that the celebrations, with all the positivity and energy attached to it, would help, not hinder, Madrid’s pursuit of another Champions League final.
“A celebration is good for the mental side of things,” Ancelotti said. “We are professionals. Tonight we all celebrate together. Tomorrow we train and on Wednesday we have another important game. If during the celebrations someone cuts their foot or leg, fine, but it won’t happen.
Madrid performed a similar routine ahead of their sensational comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16. After beating Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on the Saturday before the second leg, Real Madrid players returned to the pitch long after the final whistle, to cheer and absorb the chants of the fans, who urged the team to believe that a return was possible.
Manchester City, however, are a different proposition for PSG, a more complete, shrewd and resolute side, who will be less vulnerable to the aura of Real Madrid in Europe and the bursts of momentum that seem to be sweeping the Santiago Bernabeu on the most great European football. nights.
“At the Bernabeu nothing is ever lost. I can’t explain it but there is a magic at the Bernabeu that helps you,” Ancelotti said after Madrid went 2-0 on aggregate to beat PSG 3 -2, Karim Benzema scoring a hat-trick in the second half.
“We didn’t give up,” said Luka Modric. “The stadium helped us to 3-0. They kept supporting us and that gave us a boost to keep believing we could turn things around, and we did.
Both 70-year-old Modric and Benzema have been Real Madrid’s inspiration this season and both will have to give another recital on Wednesday if City are to be defeated.
Benzema was rested against Espanyol but scored after coming on in the 60th minute to score 18 goals in his last 13 appearances, a stunning streak that includes hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea, as well as double against Mallorca, Celta Vigo and City.
Modric, meanwhile, provided the assist for the goal that kept Real Madrid’s hopes alive against Chelsea, with his off-foot cross for Rodrygo sparking their sensational comeback.
Chelsea could have been out of sight after dominating for over an hour in the second leg and City will be wary after being equally useless last week.
“We started very well and we could have killed them. In these games we have to take more risks,” admitted Phil Foden after the game. “We are playing a team who have won the Champions League several times and if we give the ball away they will punish us. That is something we have to work on in the second leg.
Ancelotti has tried to make it clear that going from one title to another is routine for Real Madrid, but he will know there is history to be made, given that the club have only a Liga-European Cup double three times before, in 1957, 1958 and under Zinedine Zidane in 2017.
“At this club you have to celebrate quickly,” Ancelotti said. “You win and the next day you are already thinking about the next title.”