Former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich’s current manager Carlo Ancelotti has taken a look at the Euro 2016 semifinal clash between Wales and Portugal, with special emphasis on the two key players who will be expected to bear their nation’s burden in the match. The Italian looked at both players while having a chat with The Telegraph.
Ancelotti who had a stint with Real Madrid for two years during which he managed the two players told The Telegraph that, “Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have faced each other more times on the training ground at Valdebebas in Madrid than they can probably remember, and let me tell you even when the big names at the club are playing a game at the end of training, they want to win.
Yes, I have seen these two boys sweating over an eight-a-side game many times during my two years at Madrid. All the great players are competitors.
They all want to come out on top even when the only thing at stake is to be able to walk into the training-ground canteen as the winner. So when it comes to the game in Lyon, just think what it will mean to these two lads to do it for their countries.
Both of them come from national teams that are not usually among the best in Europe, although Cristiano has a good record with Portugal. Both of them care a lot about their countries and however famous they have become it still means just the same to them. I like that. I like footballers who care about their national teams.
They are different players, despite the obvious similarities. At Madrid, I played Cristiano on the left and Gareth on the right because that was the way it worked best for the team. Gareth can play any one of those three attacking positions if you want him to. Cristiano always wanted to play on the left because he felt that was the position that served him the best.
He wanted to play there because he believed that if he was in a central role he would spend too much time with his back to goal. “I want to be able to see the goal,” he told me. So Cristiano played on the left, where he could get on the ball and run at defenders, and cut in and shoot. Gareth was different in that he was not such an out-and-out goalscorer and therefore he was more adaptable.
I have seen Gareth change a lot in the last year. You can see he is much more confident. He is happy with his position at Real Madrid and he has had a good season. With Wales, he likes to speak about his role and his responsibility with the team. I know how important it is to him that he does well for Wales, and with his national team he is learning what it is like to be a leader.
Gareth always told me that Euro 2016 was a big tournament for Wales. That if they could qualify then who knows what could happen? That is why I said at the start of the tournament that there could be some surprises in store.
I also said before it started that Wales could do something in France. I hope you remember this. I recalled those conversations I had with Gareth. He added.