Madrid coach Ancelotti returns to Napoli with point to prove

Carlo Ancelotti coach of Real Madrid FC during Press conference head a their Champions League football match against Napoli at Stadio Maradona Italy on 02 October 2023 .

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is not a man to hold a grudge, as reflected by his return to the Spanish capital despite being harshly sacked by Los Blancos chief Florentino Perez in 2015.

However the 64-year-old veteran would doubtless enjoy proving a point when his Madrid side visit Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

Ancelotti was axed by president Aurelio De Laurentiis in December 2019, less than an hour after helping Napoli reach the Champions League knock-out stages with a 4-0 thrashing of Genk.

The Italian side were struggling in seventh in Serie A at the time and won their first Scudetto for 33 years in 2023, so De Laurentiis will consider his decisions more than justified.

Ancelotti spent a year and a half in charge of Napoli, guiding them to a second place finish in the 2018-19 campaign, but his tenure was abruptly cut short in its sophomore year.

At the time it seemed Ancelotti had reached the game´s summit years earlier and was on the way down football´s food chain, with his next appointment at Everton appearing to confirm that.

Dressing room tensions and a dispute with De Laurentiis over a training camp led to his downfall in Campania. The president appeared to think Ancelotti did not have it in him to manage the squad.

However Ancelotti´s surprise return to the helm of Madrid in 2021 put him back among the elite, and in 2022 he won his fourth Champions League title as a coach, more than anyone else, as well as La Liga to complete a superb double.

Madrid´s 3-0 win at Girona on Sunday ensures they also arrive in Italy as leaders in La Liga, after a wobble in the derby against rivals Atletico Madrid.

A painful 3-1 loss at the Metropolitano on September 24 saw Ancelotti come in for criticism for his tactics and diamond midfield system.

However the Italian made some minor changes and it proved sufficient to earn a comfortable victory over the high-flying Catalans, who had hoped to score a second consecutive home win over Madrid at Montilivi. "Winning here means that we did well and I´d like to highlight our defensive work, which was very good," Ancelotti told reporters.

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