Ancelotti looks forward to showdown with Madrid 'icon' Zidane

The Italian has plenty of admiration for his former assistant coach and said he had been key in unlocking Karim Benzema's potential at the Bernabeu

Carlo Ancelotti hailed Zinedine Zidane for re-energising Real Madrid, as he prepares to lead Bayern Munich against the France icon's Blancos in the Champions League.

Madrid start slowly in month of tough tests

Ancelotti will face off against Zidane for the first time when Bayern take on Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, with the first leg held in Munich on April 12.

The pair had worked together when Zidane was Ancelotti's assistant at the Bernabeu, with the Italian leading the team to a Champions League victory in his first season in charge before being sacked after his second season.

Ancelotti took charge of Bayern after a sabbatical year while Zidane was promoted from Madrid's Castilla side, with both Champions League quarter-finalists now top of their respective leagues.

And the Italian has now revealed he is looking forward to testing himself against his old apprentice in a tie that promises to be a classic.

Mourinho's blame game only distracts from his own failings

"Zidane is an idol in Madrid, he is respected," Ancelotti told French newspaper Journal du Dimanche. "When he was appointed coach, Real was not doing well. It gave them a boost. 

"Zidane is a humble man but he has a lot of charisma and for a manager this is important. As a deputy, he wanted to learn. He helped me a lot in my relationship with [Karim] Benzema."

Benzema has come under fire this season, and Madrid's reported chase of Eden Hazard and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang does little to suggest the striker's long-term prospects at the club are healthy, but Ancelotti believes the 29-year-old is the ideal foil for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rodgers working his way back to the top

"The French treat Benzema badly," Ancelotti said. "He is the perfect partner for Cristiano Ronaldo, although it is true that he has never reached the same level for France."

Ancelotti also provided an insight into his man-management techniques, citing the example of his use of winger Franck Ribery at Bayern.

"With Franck Ribery, I like to joke, we even speak in Italian," Ancelotti said. "Sometimes he does not play, but I found the right balance. 

"I said, 'Look, you're like a Ferrari and you cannot use a Ferrari every day. Just Sunday. It's not Sunday, so you're not playing.' He takes it as a laugh. He's a real guy."