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Monday, December 11, 2023

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti backs Frank Lampard to improve Chelsea fortunes

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Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti backed Frank Lampard to improve Chelsea’s flagging fortunes ahead of the Champions League quarter-final clash between the two clubs.

Appointed on an interim basis until the end of the season, Lampard, who previously managed Chelsea from July 2019 to January 2021 before being sacked, was a surprise choice to replace Graham Potter.

Chelsea’s all-time leading goal-scorer’s second stint at the helm started on a losing note at Wolves at the weekend, leaving them 11th in the Premier League and without a win in their last four fixtures.

Chelsea can temporarily forget their domestic woes this week as they travel to the Spanish capital for a reunion with their former boss Ancelotti, who ruled out taking charge at Stamford Bridge this summer.

But Ancelotti, who was in the Chelsea dugout between 2009 and 2011, has backed former England midfielder Lampard to make a success of the unexpected return to his beloved west London club.

“I feel sad (looking at Chelsea’s position in the table),” Ancelotti told a press conference on the eve of the first leg. “I have a fantastic memory of this club, of the people that are still working there. I’m a supporter of Chelsea, because I spent two years there.

“Will I go back? No, I hope Lampard will be able to do a fantastic job with them…Lampard has been a great player who I coached for two years.

“He knows these kind of games well and how to prepare his team. He has been here for a week, but he will do well in the time he is at Chelsea.”

Ancelotti insisted Real will not be overlooking the Blues, who knocked out Borussia Dortmund to reach this stage, despite the English side’s form this season.

“We have to respect the team and the club,” Ancelotti added. “They have very good players and even if they are not in a good moment they have great motivation and will bring out the best. It’s a squad of a very high level.

“The team is excited and motivated to return to the Champions League and experience another magical night at the Bernabeu. We have to take advantage of the fact that we play the first game at home.”

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