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Benitez's verbal battles with former Blues boss Jose Mourinho were a major feature of domestic and European battles between the teams in previous years.

"I am looking forward to seeing him again, it will be an interesting meeting and I have great respect for him," said Benitez, who went head to head with Ancelotti in two Champions League finals for Liverpool when his rival was AC Milan coach.

"We have competed together at two Champions League finals and now for the first time in the league. He is a great manager, and hopefully we will meet again in another European final at the end of the season.

"He knows how to manage a top side, he had great experience at AC Milan and he is already doing a good job at Chelsea.

"He has not changed too much here, maybe the shape of the team a little but the style of football is similar and the people there are happy because he is winning games."

He added: "I have a lot of respect for Ancelotti, he is a nice man and wants to win. But we do respect each other.

"He has experience of working with top-class players, that is important. In Istanbul against us (in 2005) he was winning and we came back, but he was always working to change that situation.

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