Ancelotti in league of his own

Wily Italian becomes first coach to win Europe’s five major championships,Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti might have thought his days of winning Europe’s biggest leagues were a thing of the past, but on Saturday the 62-year-old added La Liga to his glittering list of honors.,Madrid’s triumph, sealed with a 4-0 win against Espanyol, ensured Ancelotti becomes the only coach to have clinched all five major European league titles.,He also won the Premier League with Chelsea, Serie A with AC Milan, Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.,And while Ancelotti’s Chelsea pipped Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to the league by a single point in 2010, the others have all been won at a canter, with Madrid’s latest success another emphatic and long-expected title win for Ancelotti to add to his CV.,”It’s the first time I’ve won a title at the Bernabeu, the atmosphere is really something special,” Ancelotti told Movistar Plus. “If I was crying (at the final whistle), it’s because I’m happy.”,Madrid’s victory, and particularly the margin of victory-it sat 17 points clear of Sevilla on Saturday with four games left to play-is in part due to the fallibility of its rivals.,This was Barcelona’s first season without Lionel Messi, and while Barca improved after Xavi Hernandez was appointed coach in November, it remains a club in the midst of financial recovery and a team in the early stages of transition.,Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, never looked as comfortable as the reigning champion as it did as a challenger.,It spent the first half of the campaign wrestling with an identity crisis that again put the spotlight on head coach Diego Simeone and ensured its title defense was over before it began.,Sevilla was Madrid’s closest rival for the majority of the season but more in terms of points than pressure. Every time an opening appeared for Julen Lopetegui’s team to step forward, it blinked.,Skillful management,Yet Ancelotti deserves credit too, not least because the gap Real Madrid has enjoyed is testament to its own consistency, focus and individual quality, that no other side could match. Even a better Barcelona or a more assured Atletico would have surely struggled to keep up.,At the top of Ancelotti’s successes this season has been the transformation of Vinicius Junior from an exciting but erratic young forward into one of the world’s most clinical strikers.,Benzema, meanwhile, has hit a new, stratospheric level under Ancelotti, continuing his upward trajectory since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.,If the Frenchman wins the Ballon d’Or later this year, which seems entirely possible, Ancelotti might feel justified in claiming some of the credit.,Luka Modric has been outstanding again, the 36-year-old Croatian the most resounding riposte to early concerns about Ancelotti’s lack of rotation.,And the Italian shored up the defense with little fuss. The departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane broke up a long-established partnership but the performances of Eder Militao and David Alaba have ensured neither have been missed.,Most of all, though, Ancelotti has done what the club hired him to do-stabilize a team that might easily have been reeling from the losses of an iconic captain in Ramos and a historic coach in Zinedine Zidane. He has maintained order and calm, while settling promising youngsters and sustaining seasoned veterans.