Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has hailed Carlo Ancelotti as his “great teacher” as he prepares his side to take on Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Ancelotti delivered Madrid’s 10th European title in 2014 but was replaced by Rafael Benitez last year in what proved to be a disastrous short spell in charge for the former Liverpool boss.
Spalletti, who has guided his side to four wins in a row after being appointed as Rudi Garcia’s replacement in January, has credited Ancelotti with giving him a broader understanding of the game as he attempts to spring a surprise on his mentor’s old club in the Champions League last 16.
“He is my great teacher,” he told AS. “He was doing great, as always, wherever he went. Ancelotti is the best that we have in Italy and here we have the best school for coaches.
“I learned everything from him. Every time I have dinner with him I learn everything I can from what he tells me about football. He’s a great person and a great coach.”
Spalletti believes former midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who replaced Benitez early last month, has the credentials to become an outstanding head coach given the traits he displayed during his playing career.
“I remember him well at Juventus,” he said. “He was a fantastic player, a leader… and when you’re like this, with this character, becoming a coach is easier.
“He has everyone’s respect and that helps him with the impact of his new role. He’s a real great.
“The important thing is not to lie [to players]. They realise that straight away and give you some odd looks.
“To earn their respect, you have to be loyal and show them the way. The Roma way… our way, our idea.
“I have a saying: ‘Respect is earned, fear is imposed’.”
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s first leg in the Italian capital, Spalletti has pointed to Luka Modric – a player he admitted he wanted to sign while at Zenit – as a key figure in Madrid’s side, while he acknowledged the difficulty of finding a way to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.
“I looked at him [Modric] during my time with Zenit but he was inaccessible. The club and I would have really liked to have him,” he added.
“They are all very good, all of them. But what Cristiano has is impossible… having those qualities is very difficult, the speed, the strength. I know him very well, I played against his Manchester United six times with Roma.”