It goes without saying that Carlo Ancelotti is one of the greatest managers football has ever seen. The Italian mastermind started out his managerial career with Reggiana in Italy, before going on to manage Parma and Juventus. His most memorable stint came at the turn of the millennium with AC Milan, where he would go on to create history.
Ancelotti then took over the reins at Chelsea and enjoyed much success before moving to Paris Saint-Germain to establish them as the superpowers of France. Then came a dream move to Real Madrid, where uncle Carlo would go on to deliver the La Decima, writing his name in the history books at Santiago Bernabeu.
A short but fairly successful stint at Bayern Munich followed, before he returned to Italy to manage Napoli for a year and a half. Currently the 60-year-old is in charge at Everton.
Ancelotti has won league titles in four different countries – Italy, England, France and Germany and has won the Champions League with two different clubs. Not many managers can claim to have achieved those feats.
Naturally, the 60-year-old has worked with an array of great footballers along the way. Gigi Buffon, Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Pippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Andriy Shevchenko, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Frank Lampard, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Cristiano Ronaldo, you name it and there are chances that the legends have worked with Ancelotti at some point in their careers.
So, picking the best XI of players coached by the Italian is not going to be easy. As we speak, his all-conquering AC Milan side from the early 2000s could only make up the whole team. Which is why we are restricting ourselves to players coached by uncle Carlo that are still active and playing. So, without further ado, let’s get into it;
Gianluigi Buffon (Parma)
Iker Casillas retired earlier this year and while Ancelotti worked with Manuel Neuer for a little over a year, the German was out injured for a good chunk of the spell. This leaves Gigi Buffon as the obvious choice in goal. The legendary Italian goalkeeper featured in 74 of Ancelotti's 87 matches in charge at Parma between 1996 and 1998, in which he kept 31 clean sheets.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
Dani Carvajal and Joshua Kimmich were the other contenders for the spot, but it is Branislav Ivanovic that gets the pick due to the role he played in Chelsea’s success under Ancelotti. Of the 109 matches that the 60-year-old took charge of at Chelsea, Ivanovic featured in 89 of those and contributed with seven goals and 13 assists.
The Serb is only behind John Terry and Petr Cech in the list of most frequently used players by Ancelotti during his time at Chelsea.
CB: Pepe (Real Madrid)
The Portuguese doesn’t always get due credit for the role he played in Madrid’s success, with his rash antics getting into the spotlight more often than not. However, Pepe was an integral member of Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side, featuring in 86 of the Italian’s 119 matches in charge.
The veteran centre-back was a constant fixture in the 2013-14 Champions League-winning side, despite missing the final, while he was a regular in the side that won the Copa del Rey that season as well.
CB: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
The leader of the pack. Casillas may have had the captain’s armband during Real Madrid’s UCL triumph under Ancelotti, but Sergio Ramos was as much of a captain of the team as the goalkeeper. The Spaniard marshalled the troops from the back on the way to the club’s La Decima triumph under Ancelotti. The centre-back featured in 93 of Ancelotti’s 119 matches at Real Madrid, scoring 14 goals, including the all-important equalizer in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
LB: Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Another key member of the Champions League-winning side at Real Madrid, Marcelo enhanced his status as one of the best-attacking full-backs in the game under Ancelotti. The Brazil left-back featured 92 times under the Italian at Real Madrid, bagging six goals and supplying 18 assists.
RW: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
Arjen Robben would have been a strong contender had he not retired last year, leaving the field clear for Gareth Bale. The Welsh wing wizard’s time at Real Madrid has been mired by injuries and dodgy relationship with the fanbase, but Bale played some of his finest football in the Whites of Real Madrid under Ancelotti.
Bale featured in 92 matches under the Italian tactician and went on to score 39 goals in the process, which included the all-important extra-time goal against Atletico in the final on the way to La Decima. He also set up 31 goals during the pair’s time together at the Bernabeu.
CM: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
James Rodriguez was also a contender for this berth, but the Croatian gets the nod as he was a key member of the side that lifted the Champions League under Ancelotti.
Modric made 76 appearances for Real under the Italian tactician, setting up 14 goals, including one in the 13/14 final against Atleti, while chipping in with three as well. The former Spurs man was an ever-present in the UCL winning side, missing just two matches, one due to suspension.
CM: Blaise Matuidi (PSG)
One of the most under-rated, but most prominent members of the dominant PSG side under Ancelotti, Matuidi gets his due credit here. The French midfielder missed just six of Ancelotti’s 77 games in charge at PSG over two seasons, highlighting his importance and the level of consistency he managed during that spell, helping PSG to the Ligue 1 title in 2012/13.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
101 matches, 112 goals – two in the La Decima winning finale against Atletico Madrid, 46 assists under Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. Nothing more needs to be said.
ST: Zlatan Ibrahimović (PSG)
The Swedish maverick might not have worked for a long time with Ancelotti, but he was one of the chief driving forces of the Italian’s successful project at PSG. Ibrahimović plundered 35 goals and assisted 18 more in his 46 appearances under Ancelotti, kickstarting the era of dominance for PSG in France.
ST: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
The Polish goalscoring machine enjoyed one of his most prolific seasons at Bayern Munich in 2016/17 under Ancelotti and had made a great start to 17/18 as well before the Italian was relieved of his duties. Having missed just three of the 60 games Bayern played under the 60-year-old, Lewandowski plundered 54 goals and assisted 16 more, winning a Bundesliga title.