CARLO ANCELOTTI warns “anything can happen” as he prepares his Real Madrid players for Parkhead this evening.
The much-decorated head coach of the holders and 14-times winners of European football’s most prestigious competition only has to look back to last season to enforce his belief.
Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol claimed a remarkable 2-1 victory in the Bernabeu in September last year in the group stages, but it did not prevent Ancelotti and his players recovering to win the return 3-0 and go all the way to the May Final in Paris and beat Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side 1-0 with a strike from Vinicius Junior.
AIR WE GO…Scott McDonald celebrates his winner against Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan in October 2007 with his team-mates and fans getting in on the act.
The experienced gaffer is determined to make certain his team of all stars do not step on another Champions League banana skin against Ange Postecoglou’s full-throttle Celtic in the opening match of Group F in a vibrating arena in the east end of Glasgow tonight.
Ancelotti said: “It’s not an easy group at all. Celtic, first and foremost, are a strong side and we also have to respect RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.
“There can also be surprises in the group. Think about last year with Sheriff – anything can happen.”
The shrewd tactician has already made three visits to Celtic Park – and is still awaiting his first win.
READY TO RUMBLE…Carlo Ancelotti (extreme left) puts his players through their paces at Celtic Park.
AC Milan, whom he led to his first two Champions league triumphs before repeating that achievement with Real, were twice held to goalless draws with Ancelotti at the helm.
That included a last-16 tie that went to extra-time in the San Siro before Kaka claimed a solo goal to dump Gordon Strachan’s visitors 1-0 before goining on to win the silverware in 2007.
In October the same year, the holders went down 2-1 in a group stage confrontation when Stephen McManus and Scott McDonald claimed the famous goals for the Hoops.
Ancelotti, speaking to the BBC, added: “It’s true, it’s a very difficult stadium for me and for my teams in the past.
“But a fantastic atmosphere.”
Veteran Brazil full-back Marcelo was among a handful of summer departures, while only Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni and Chelsea centre-half Antonio Rudiger have been brought in.
However, Real already lead La Liga by two points after four successive victories, including a 2-1 defeat of early challengers Real Betis at the weekend.
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