Bayern’s Ancelotti relishing his Jena return
Back in their heyday Jena once reached the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final, beating Roma, for whom Ancelotti was a player at the time, on the way.
Bayern’s new coach had one of the worst nights of his career on October 1, 1980, when he lost 4-0 with Roma, having netted in a 3-0 win in the home leg in Rome.
The Italians bowed out of the first-round while Jena advanced to the 1981 final, losing 2-1 to Dinamo Tbilisi in Duesseldorf.
“I was in Jena in 1980, it wasn’t good,” said Ancelotti on Thursday.
“The defeat is unforgettable.
“There are defeats in a career which linger and when I hear ‘Jena’ you remember everything.
“I’m looking forward to going back there after 36 years.”
Having been a powerhouse in East German football, Jena’s fortunes dipped after reunification in 1990.
Following spells in Germany’s second and third divisions, they dropped to the fourth league in 2012.
The visit of defending Bundesliga champions and German cup holders Bayern is a plum cup draw, especially with Jena top of their regional league after four straight wins.
“It’s a special game because the opponents are special. This is the dream draw – an absolute highlight,” said Jena’s coach Mark Zimmermann.
On paper, Jena’s team, which includes Namibia international midfielder Manfred Starke and Serbian defender Filip Krstic, has little chance.
But extra stands have been fitted at the Ernst Abbe Sportfeld stadium to boost the capacity to a sell-out crowd of 18,800.
Huge demand meant the club reckon they could have sold 100,000 tickets and the hosts can count on noisy support.
Ancelotti’s squad, boasting Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Mueller and Manuel Neuer, want to avoid an embarrassing slip, seven days before opening the new Bundesliga season at home to Werder Bremen and chasing a fifth consecutive title.
“It’s an important game for us and there are always surprises,” said Ancelotti.
“We have to concentrate because Jena is a good team who have won their first four games.”
— Bacon and eggs —
Jena want to turn the heat up on Bayern.
The club set bells ringing at the local fire station on Wednesday morning.
The frying of bacon and eggs, for the first team squad after the morning’s training session, set off a smoke alarm which saw six fire engines hastily dispatched to their ground.
“The alarm bells rang, we have rehearsed the real thing. The fire brigade were there, now we can get on with it,” said Zimmermann.
It has been eight years since Jena made history by storming into the semi-finals of the German Cup.
Their 3-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund remains a record as 80,708 spectators, the highest attendance for a cup match in Germany, packed into the ground.
“All we know is that it will be quite difficult against Bayern,” said Zimmermann.
“We must not be afraid of their world-class players, the guys have confidence in themselves.”