Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
May 22, 2010
Nine months of grueling club football season will culminate in the biggest club game of the year, when Bayern Munich takes on Internazionale at the Santiago Bernabeu. Both teams will be looking to create history by becoming the first team in their respective leagues to achieve the treble (League title, Domestic Cup and European title). Both teams have already sealed their League and Domestic cups in emphatic fashion and a European victory will be the final jewel in the crown.
Fiorentino Perez will be sitting in his VIP enclosure awash with both relief and distress. Relief that the arch rivals of Real Madrid aren’t playing in the finals, but distressed by the fact that two players he deemed not good enough for Real Madrid, are the ones who shaped their respective club’s astounding run of success thus far.
Clash of the titans
This clash between two giants of Europe is somewhat overshadowed by the two personalities at the helm of both clubs. History tells us that Jose Mourinho learned his coaching lessons under Luis van Gaal when both were at Barcelona. In fact, it was van Gaal himself who recommended Mourinho for his first job as coach.
Both coaches are very similar, yet strikingly different. Both have a massive ego, both have built the team in their own image and both unreservedly deserve credit for what their teams achieved this year. “The Special One” managed to convince the last remaining holdouts among Inter fans. The Dutchman endured a difficult start, managing not to get fired before turning around the fortunes of his club.
Both teams enjoyed somewhat different routes to the final, with the Italian side effectively trouncing powerhouses Chelsea and Barcelona, and the Germans arguably enjoying more than the proverbial slices of luck to reach this stage.
Inter started their European campaign with a history of flattering to deceive in Europe. Their dominance in the domestic league in Italy, refused to translate into European glory. This year too, they found themselves in a group comprising champions from Spain, Russia and Ukraine. On Match-day 5 Inter were just minutes away from being eliminated from this seasons Champions League. Needing a win to survive, Inter found themselves down 1-0 with just 4 minutes on the clock. Last gasp goals from Sneijder and Milito turned their European season around.
The next round saw Inter produce their best recent performance in Europe humbling English league leaders Chelsea. In the quarter finals, they achieved a regulation victory against CSKA Moscow. The much-awaited semi-finals clash saw Inter produce a master-class by first blowing away Barcelona 3-1 at home, before producing the defensive performance of the year losing 0-1 away and snatching the tie in aggregate.
Bayern Munich too had a tough group with Italian giants Juventus and French champions Bordeaux keeping close company. They were beaten home and away by Bordeaux, drawing at home to Juventus. Needing a win in their last group game away, they ripped apart a sorry Juventus team winning 1-4. The round of 16 saw controversy as Bayern Munich were outplayed in large parts by Fiorentina, before Miroslav Klose scored a goal from a position that was miles offside. Bayern Munich lost the game at Florence 3-2, progressing on away goals. They repeated the same performance against Manchester United in the Quarter finals winning the home leg 2-1 before losing the away leg 3-2 to progress on away goals. In the semi finals , van Gaal’s men beat Lyon home and away to reach the finals in emphatic style.
Recent Form: WWWWLW
Recent CL Form: LWWWWW
Inter won the last game (and the league) at Siena 1-0 and came out unscathed, without any injury scares. Thiago Motta is suspended after being red carded in Barcelona. Lucio missed the last two games due to injury, but is expected to be back for the finals to face his former club.
Expected starting XI: (4-2-3-1) Cesar – Maicon – Lucio – Samuel – Zanetti – Cambiasso – Stankovic – Pandev – Sneijder – Eto’o – Milito
TheHardTackle’s Player(s) to Watch Out:
Wesley Sneijder (Midfielder)
The midfielder has become the creative fulcrum of the side ever since his arrival. His dead ball skills combined with his vision will be critical to Inter’s success.
Samuel Eto’o will aim to be the first player in the history of the game to achieve the treble twice and the first in the history to score in three CL finals. Keep a watch on him too.
Recent Form: WWWWDW
Recent CL Form: WWLWLW
Their last game was the German cup final against Werder Bremen where they blew their domestic rivals away winning 4-0. Robben is in form of his life and will give Inter defenders Messi-esque nightmares on the eve and enough trouble on the night. Franck Ribery is suspended for the finals after getting himself sent out against Lyon. Apart from that there are no injury worries for Bayern Munich either.
Expected Starting XI (4-3-3) : Butt – Lahm – van Butyen- Demichelis – Badstuber – van Bommel – Schweinsteiger – Pranjic – Olic – Gomez – Robben
TheHardTackle’s Player(s) to Watch Out:
Arjen Robben is in red hot form and was instrumental in the last three wins of Bayern Munich. Inter full-backs will have their task cut out in trying to stop him.
Bayern Munich 1 – 1 Internazionale
For a change, Inter will start favorites for this game. However the squad looks fatigued and weary, when compared to Bayern Munich, and that could play a vital role as the game progresses. This has all the makings of going into extra time.