Carlo Ancelotti has said the prospect of winning la décima is a motivation, but not an obsession, ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final in Lisbon. The meeting with neighbors Atlético Madrid will be the first time that Madrid have been back to the final since beating Bayer Leverkusen to win the competition for the ninth time 12 years ago. For Ancelotti it also represents a chance to join Liverpool great Bob Paisely as the only man to coach three European Cup winning sides. But the Italian, who also won the competition twice as a player with Milan, is only focused on what it means for the team he took over last summer.
"To be part of that is bigger than any personal achievement,” he told the Daily Mail. “That is the most important thing. The Champions League has given me a lot already. I have won four, as a player and a manager. But this is about the décima; the 10th title.
"From the first day I arrived here it was about the décima , because for Real Madrid this cup is special. I wouldn't call it an obsession. Just a motivation.”
Ancelotti, whose team beat holders Bayern Munich emphatically in the semifinals, has revealed that both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be fit despite their fitness being carefully managed in recent weeks. Xabi Alonso is definitely ruled out through suspension, however, and there remain doubts about the availability of Pepe and Karim Benzema. Both did train at the Estadio da Luz on Friday.
Atlético have been desperately trying all week to give Diego Costa a chance of featuring in the final. The scorer of 36 goals in all competitions this season, Costa was forced off with a hamstring injury during Atletico’s La Liga title decider against Barcelona last Saturday. The Spain international has even been to Serbia for treatment, and took some part in training a day ahead of the big game alongside fellow injury doubt Arda Turan.
Whatever happens on Saturday, it has already been an incredible season for Atlético. Diego Simeone has delivered the club their first league championship since he was a part of the club’s midfield in 1996, as well as leading them to only their second ever final of Europe’s premier competition, and first in 40 years. Midfielder Tiago has hailed the influence of Atlético’s Argentine coach.
“They are made to win; we are made to fight,” he said, according to The Guardian. “We fight every game. We have won the league and now we can win this. Is a first [European Cup] more important than a 10th? I think so, for us. Real is a big team, they have a lot of big players, but we will try. We have nothing to lose. We deserve to be here and let’s see if we can win it.
“This season, we have a great coach and great players. [Diego]Simeone is a fantastic coach. He is the No.1 and we follow everything he says. He is the symbol of the club. He won the championship as a player, now as a coach, he is God here at Atlético. He thinks only of winning, winning, winning. In every speech he gives, the word that appears is ‘win’.”
D: Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo
M: Modric, Illarramendi, Di Maria
F: Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
D: Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis
M: Turan, Tiago, Gabi, Koke
F: Costa, Villa
Where to watch: The Champions League final will kick off from Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.