Ancelotti: ‘Champions League special for me and Real Madrid’

Carlo Ancelotti notes Inter have ‘new working methods’ under Simone Inzaghi and admits he once supported the Nerazzurri, but the Champions League is ‘a special competition’ for both himself and Real Madrid.

The opener kicks off at San Siro tomorrow at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT), in a group that also has Roberto De Zerbi’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Moldovan club Sheriff.

“The team is in good shape, we did well against Celta Vigo, although tomorrow will be a very different competition,” said Ancelotti in his press conference.

The Italian returns for a new stint with the Merengues and will be called upon to repeat his past success, especially in the Champions League.

“This is a tournament that means a lot to Madrid. It’s a special competition for me too, as I won it both as a player and a coach with such fond memories, especially La Decima.

“It’s difficult to say who are the favourites to win the trophy when the competition hasn’t even started yet. All I can say is that Real Madrid will be competitive and fight for the prize.”

The Italian tactician is aiming to achieve several records with his return to Madrid, including winning each of the top five European Leagues and four Champions League trophies.

“That’s motivating, but the biggest motivation is just coming back and winning with Real Madrid. The joy is going to the Valdebebas ground and training the team every single day.”

Simone Inzaghi replaced Antonio Conte on the Inter bench and started strong in Serie A, with seven points from three games.

“It’s going to be complicated, because Inter retained the basic structure of last season, even if they have a new coach. They lost some important players, but brought in others, and have new working methods too. They play good football and it’s going to be an open game, we hope to be competitive.”

Gareth Bale and Marcelo are out of action, while there are doubts around Luka Modric and David Alaba.

“Alaba trained individually, he will work with the team today and then we’ll see, but I think he can play. Modric will rest, but only until tomorrow evening just before kick-off,” smiled Ancelotti with a raised eyebrow.

“The idea was to start Marcelo, as his experience is fundamental in certain games. Unfortunately, he had this problem and I hope he can recover quickly.”

It is a return to San Siro for former Milan player and coach Ancelotti, although he admits that he was an Inter fan growing up.

“That’s true, I was an Inter supporter, but then I changed for various reasons. I also had a trial run with them before I signed for Roma. The derby was always special and with a great deal of mutual respect.”