City clash will be good barometer of Everton’s progress: Ancelotti

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 31 December 2019

City clash will be good barometer of Everton’s progress: Ancelotti

  • The 60-year-old Italian has guided Everton to two wins in his first two matches in charge since replacing Marco Silva, who was sacked in early December

LONDON: Manchester City may not be playing at the level they were last season but will still provide a good test for Everton to establish how genuine their revival is, manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old Italian —  one of only three managers to have won the Champions League three times — has guided Everton to two wins in his first two matches in charge since replacing Marco Silva, who was sacked in early December after they slipped into the bottom three.

However, Ancelotti says City will provide a more realistic barometer on where Everton stand despite the welcome wins over Burnley and Newcastle.

“Against City this is a fantastic test to see where we are at,” Ancelotti said at his pre-match press conference. “They are a really strong team but we can have confidence to do our best.

“I think at this moment it is good to have this kind of test.”

Ancelotti, who won the domestic double with Chelsea in 2010 during his previous stint in England, said City remained a formidable opponent even if their defense of the league title has gone awry and they trail leaders Liverpool by 14 points.

“Maybe City aren’t at the same level as last year but they still remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager,” he said.

“It will be really tough to compete with them, but we need to have the confidence to compete and to be focused on our football.

“We don’t have to look too much to the opponent because they are really strong so it’s better to be focused on our idea of football.”

Ancelotti, a two-time European Cup winner as a player with the outstanding AC Milan side of the late 1980s and early 1990s, heaped praise on City manager Pep Guardiola, who he replaced as Bayern Munich manager when the Spaniard left to take over City in 2016. “Pep is a fantastic manager,” said Ancelotti.

“We’ve met some times, not a lot in games, but I have a really good relationship (with him) and a lot of respect for him.

“He is a genius; he’s always tried to do something special on the pitch.”


Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

Updated 10 August 2020

Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

  • All games from the quarterfinals onwards will be played as one-off ties across four venues

PARIS: Manchester United, Inter Milan and Sevilla headline a quintet of former champions traveling to Germany for a remodeled eight-team straight knockout tournament that will crown the winner of a Europa League campaign heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All games from the quarterfinals onwards in this season’s competition will be played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues — Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen — following a five-month interruption.

While a Champions League berth still awaits the victor of the final in Cologne on Aug. 21, much has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak that brought European football to a standstill in March.

“There are rules and regulations on the bubble that’s going to travel. We’ve got to stick together, stay together in and around the hotel and the training ground,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the strict health protocols clubs must respect.

Players and staff will undergo virus testing before departing for Germany and again on the eve of a match once arriving, a process repeated for each subsequent game in the final tournament.

UEFA has advised teams to travel on charter flights and minimize contact with the general public, strongly recommending the use of exclusive hotels — to which players will largely be confined — in order to avoid potential cross-contamination.

Masks will not be required for substitutes and coaching staff but they must maintain social distancing when seated, with players instructed to limit contact as much as possible when warming up. Match balls will be disinfected before kickoff and at half-time.

United, the 2017 winners, face FC Copenhagen in Monday’s quarterfinal in Cologne while Serie A runners-up Inter take on Bayer Leverkusen in a clash of former UEFA Cup champions at Dusseldorf Arena.

England forward Jesse Lingard, who played in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the final three years ago, is confident the team can capture the title for a second time.

“We can’t wait to get there and play this game now. 100 per cent I want to win it again,” Lingard told MUTV.

“Lifting a trophy is a special feeling you can’t really explain and winning it before you take that confidence forward. We have got a mixture of youth and experience in the squad and for the young lads to win their first trophy, it will be perfect for them.”

Should United advance to the last four they would face either Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or Premier League rivals Wolves in Cologne
on Aug. 16.

Wolves are through to a first European quarterfinal since 1972 but were punished by UEFA in midweek after failing to comply with Financial Fair Play requirements. They take on Sevilla in Duisburg on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Inter beat Getafe 2-0 in a single-leg last-16 tie Wednesday in Gelsenkirchen, and Antonio Conte’s men harbor hopes of adding to the three UEFA Cups won in the 1990s.

“This is an important competition. It doesn’t matter where and under what conditions you’re playing, you should only be focused on the upcoming match,” midfielder Christian Eriksen told Inter TV.

“It’s certainly not as fun playing without fans, the atmosphere isn’t there. We’ll try to excite them while they’re watching on TV, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to embrace our supporters again soon.”

Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, winners of the 2009 edition, play Swiss outfit Basel in the other quarterfinal in Gelsenkirchen.

This year’s Europa League final was initially due to be played in the Polish city of Gdansk in late May before the health crisis forced a change of plans.

Gdansk will host next year’s final instead.