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

City clash will be good barometer of Everton’s progress: Ancelotti
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti. (Reuters)
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Updated 31 December 2019

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

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.”


Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Updated 02 December 2020

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League

Barcelona rest Lionel Messi again in Champions League
  • Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv

MADRID: Lionel Messi will get some time off for the last time this season in Barcelona's Champions League match on Wednesday.

Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Philippe Coutinho will be rested by coach Ronald Koeman at Ferencváros in Group G. Barcelona secured a spot in the last 16 after winning their first four group matches.

Messi was previously rested against Dynamo Kyiv. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong was also left out of that match in Kyiv.

“I know it’s not usual, but with the calendar that we have this season, we only had two opportunities to rest Leo, in Kyiv and tomorrow (Wednesday),” Koeman said. “Of course he is a player who likes to play always, and that’s a good mentality. I asked him, but the final decision is always by the coach. The rest of the season he cannot rest anymore because then we play every three days.”

Koeman said Messi will remain crucial for Barcelona even if he doesn't play as much or as well as in the past.

“Leo is always Leo,” he said. “Maybe it has been a slower start to his season, but he doesn’t need to score 30 goals every season. He has been working well and remains very important for us offensively.”

Koeman said Messi’s absence opens the way for others to get some minutes.

“I want to give opportunities to some other players," he said. "Saturday’s match is very important for us in the (Spanish) league and we have to win it.”

Barcelona visit  promoted Cádiz on Saturday in La Liga, where they sit  in seventh place.

Barcelona have a three-point lead over Juventus in their Champions League group. Juventus host  Dynamo on Wednesday and visit  Barcelona in the final round.

Other Barcelona players will be absent on Wednesday because of injuries, including Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.