Inter v. Bayern: Bigger than the World Cup Final!By: Marco | May 21st, 2010
Says the manager not going to be taking part in the world cup this summer in South Africa – Jose Mourinho. Truly Mourinho has recently grabbed many headlines, not so much with the preparations for this the Champions League Final, but rather will he or won’t he be moving to Madrid this offseason!? I’ve often not given credit to this guy, but love him or hate him, he truly is a master tactician. He unlike most has realized what it means to be tactically aware both on the pitch and off the pitch. He has often (this season and in previous seasons) danced the media around with stories of chivalry, rivalry, animosity, jealousy, and tails of descent and unbridled disdain for the Italian game… Yet here we are, approaching the end of May, and Jose Mourinho seems to have bashfully deflected any commentary about the actual final with tails of fantasy, vis-a-vis unfounded B.S. Whether Jose Mourinho does indeed go to Real Madrid this summer – he has successfully accomplished one thing, he’s completely isolated his players from any discussion or media pressure pertaining to this Champions League Final. Bravo – I’ve just spent an entire paragraph discussing everything but tomorrow’s match – point proven Jose.
Onto the match tomorrow. What can we expect and how can we expect it to unfold? Between me, you and the person eavesdropping from the other room, I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see these two teams this deep into the tournament. Bayern have always seemed like German titans, yet, you always had the feeling they’d fizzle out somewhere down the line. A superior team would evidently show up in the evening hours of a quarter final or semi final and dispose of the German champions. Yet, it hasn’t happened. They’ve behaved like nothing less than a dedicated championship contender, they’ve squeaked through the group stages against the likes of Bordeaux and Juventus, stabbed the very hearts of the florentines, basked in glory under the lights of Old Trafford, and punished the Lions of France with masterclass precision.
Their strengths lie in two parts. Part I: Their manager Van Gaal has been to the dance before. He knows the routine, he knows what he needs to do to get it done. The odd thing is, he’s made it a very pleasant experience thus far. Bayern have looked every bit the part, they’ve played enticing football with the grittiness necessary of hoisting ol’ big ears. Part II: Arjen Robben – relegated to the nether regions of the Madrid bench, he has been resurgent in Germany. He’s looked impressive, tactically aware of his surroundings, and has been the ’special’ ingredient that has otherwise been missing from the Bayern mid over the last couple of seasons. Sure they’ll be without the swift speed of Ribery gliding down the wings and floating balls into the box. But from what I’ve witnessed this may be more of a plus rather than a minus.
Enter stage left, Internazionale. Italian pride and a Champions League seed lay at the very feet of a team that will likely not be featuring a single Italian in their starting 11 tomorrow. We’ve already discussed the antics of Jose Mourinho to a significant extent, but, I cannot stress enough, the genius behind the tactic. He’s shifted responsibility from the players to himself. The buck does stop with him. He is Inter’s most potent weapon, but then again, Inter is a well oiled machine who has played in sync. Each piece working as a cohesive unit, accomplishing it’s objective. Like an engine, each part works in unison. The suspension of T. Motta, albeit, exceptionally harsh in the second leg of the Barca semi-final, may actually help Inter in this match. For me, Motta has looked like a risky liability since the Chelsea draw.
And Here…We…Go… The Stage is set at the Bernabéu in Madrid. Inter v. Bayern Munich. Two European superpowers set to do battle for 90 minutes plus. Not only is national pride at stake, but an extra seed in Europe’s Premier football championship is also on the line. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben return to the Bernabéu to prove a point, while the ‘chosen’ one may give a glimpse as to what Real Madrid may be missing on the bench.