Ancelotti: 'Real is not a candidate to win the Champions League'
"Real's goal is to pass the group stage, quarterfinals and fight to the end," Ancelotti said on September 19 at a press conference before the opening match of Group C Champions League against Union Berlin. "Getting to the semi-finals is a goal we can achieve. Real wants to compete and fight in the final stages, but has never considered itself a top championship candidate."
Opta rates Man City as the strongest candidate with a 36.1% chance of winning the championship, compared to 10.2% for the team behind Bayern. Ancelotti agrees with this point of view, saying that Man City's squad has not changed much compared to last season's coronation journey. "In the Champions League there are always surprises at the end, but today, Man City is a bright candidate," the Italian coach added.
In last season's championship run, Man City crushed Real with a total score of 5-1 in the semi-finals, with a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu and then a 4-0 win in the second leg at the Etihad. This summer, the team under Pep Guardiola said goodbye to Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Cole Palmer and recruited Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol, Jeremy Doku and Matheus Nunes.
Meanwhile, Ancelotti said that Real was more chaotic than last season, saying goodbye to captain striker Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and bringing in Fran Garcia, Jude Bellingham, Joselu, Arda Guler, Kepa Arrizabalaga. He assessed that rookies like Garcia, Bellingham, Joselu quickly showed their value, and Real was ready for the new Champions League season.
Real is rated highest in Group C, where the remaining three teams are Serie A champion Napoli, German representative Union Berlin and Portuguese club Braga. Among them, Union Berlin - Real's opponent today - made a splash when they finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season to qualify for the Champions League for the first time. This was a magical journey when Union Berlin was still playing in the German second division four years ago.
Ancelotti analyzed the video and evaluated Union Berlin's organized play, solid defense and emphasis on team play. The 64-year-old coach also revealed that Dani Carvajal is injured and will be replaced by Lucas Vazquez.
Sitting next to Ancelotti at the press conference, Eduardo Camavinga also assessed Union Berlin as a difficult opponent, playing with high intensity and Real must be patient in controlling the ball and taking advantage of opportunities. The French midfielder affirmed that Real is always a bright candidate when participating in the Champions League and feels honored to train and play with two legends, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.