A brilliant XI of players left out of Carlo Ancelotti’s best XI he’s coached
The list of players coached by Carlo Ancelotti reads like a Football Manager addict’s wet dream, and that’s only emphasised by looking at the players that missed out on the Italian’s best XI.
When asked by Marca to compile the best XI of players he has managed, Ancelotti restricted himself to those he coached prior to joining Real Madrid in 2013, resulting in a diamond 4-4-2: Gianluigi Buffon; Cafu, Thiago Silva, John Terry, Paolo Maldini; Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka; Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andriy Shevchenko.
We’ve widened the net to included every team he has managed to come up with the best XI of players to miss the cut, also arranged in a diamond 4-4-2.
GK: Petr Cech
Iker Casillas was still in something of a post-Mourinho malaise when Ancelotti took over at Real Madrid, and Manuel Neuer struggled with injuries under the manager at Bayern.
That leaves the understated excellence of Cech as the obvious option between the sticks, having won the Premier League’s Golden Glove award in 2009-10.
RB: Philipp Lahm
Choosing the back four gave us a bit of a headache, starting at right-back. Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta were both given plenty of consideration, but we decided on Lahm; ensuring Bayern had a representative seemed as good a reason as any.
One of two World Cup-winning captains in the defence, Lahm could have also been selected at left-back or in midfield.
“Philipp Lahm is one of the most professional players I have ever met – very serious, very professional,” Ancelotti said in 2017. “He is an example for others, he never complains. It is delightful for managers to have players like this, we would like 20 Philipp Lahms and there would be no problem at all.”
CB: Alessandro Nesta
Again, the options at centre-back were pretty ridiculous, with Alessandro Costacurta, Jaap Stam, Thuram, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos all considered, but the class of Nesta won out in the end.
“For me, he is a father,” the former Italy international once told the BBC when describing Ancelotti.
CB: Fabio Cannavaro
A throwback to Ancelotti’s days in charge of Parma, how could we exclude another World Cup-winning captain?
“When he said goodbye to us in order to join Milan, all the players were crying,” Cannavaro told La Gazzetta dello Sport in 2018.
LB: Ashley Cole
Zambrotta and Lahm were options on either side of the defence, while David Alaba can feel slightly aggrieved.
Cole was a surprise omission in Jose Mourinho’s XI but openly admitted he “didn’t play as well as I could” at Chelsea under the Portuguese boss.
The former England left-back had rediscovered his verve by the time Ancelotti arrived at Stamford Bridge, however, and seems an obvious pick.
DM: Xabi Alonso
Having played under Ancelotti at both Real Madrid and Bayern, can you think of a more perfect Andrea Pirlo alternative?
CM: Clarence Seedorf
Despite an embarrassment of riches to choose from, it’s impossible to look beyond that classic midfield at AC Milan and Seedorf.
The only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs, Ancelotti also tried to re-sign the Dutchman while with Chelsea.
CM: Gennaro Gattuso
If Alonso is bringing the class and Seedorf is bringing the guile, we need Gattuso to bring the outright psychopathy.
AM: Rui Costa
Overshadowed somewhat by Kaka as time wore on, Rui Costa was the original ethereal playmaker in Milan’s midfield of the 2000s.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
Don’t really need to argue the case for this one, do we?
ST: Didier Drogba
It often feels like that Chelsea team from Ancelotti’s first season doesn’t get the credit it deserves having been somewhat overshadowed by the attacking exploits of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
A Premier League and FA Cup Double was secured with Chelsea breaking league records for the most goals in a season, most goals scored at home and best goal difference in a season, thanks in no small part to the performances of Drogba, who scored 37 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions.
Notable absentees (f*ck he’s managed a lot of good players): Iker Casillas, Manuel Neuer, Alessandro Costacurta, Lilian Thuram, Gianluca Zambrotta, Jaap Stam, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, David Alaba, Edgar Davids, Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti, Michael Essien, Thiago Motta, David Beckham, Angel Di Maria, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Rivaldo, Alessandro Del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi, David Trezeguet, Hernan Crespo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Gareth Bale, Robert Lewandowski, Dries Mertens.