Carlo Ancelotti is enjoying a renaissance.
The Italian coach thought his days amongst the elite of the elite were over. His two most recent jobs before he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu last summer were with Napoli and Everton.
Both are historic football clubs but neither compete at the sharp end of the European game. Many viewed his appointment by Real Madrid this past close-season to be a place-holder, a safe hand designed to usher Los Blancos into a new era.
But he’s been a whole lot more than that.
Ancelotti has built a team that plays a simple, uncomplicated system with devastating skill. He’s fostered an atmosphere that’s gotten the best out of a talented group and enjoyed success both at home and in Europe.
If Madrid are to go on and beat Liverpool later this month, Vinicius Junior will be key to their success. The Brazilian, just like teammate Rodgryo Goes, has exploded under Ancelotti’s orders this season and finally begun to deliver on his evident potential.
“I think Vinicius is a really talented player,” Ancelotti told SiriusXM FC’s The Football Show. “He arrived here at Madrid when he was really, really young and of course it took time for him to reach the top. Because now, in football, talent isn’t enough to reach the top.
“You have to improve your tactical knowledge, your physical condition. I think Vinicius has done really well this season because of this reason. He was able to show his talent because of a base of tactical knowledge and a better physical condition.
“I think [Rodrygo] has also been doing really well this season.
“He’s a different player to Vinicius, less talented maybe. But he’s very intelligent without the ball and he’s skilled at being in the right place at the right moment.
“And he’s going to improve.
“I don’t think he’s reached his best level. He’s going to improve because he’s really intelligent and a really good guy.”