Champions League Final: Inter vs Bayern Munich
Inter and Bayern Munich will clash next Saturday, May 22nd in Madrid to decide the European champion in a highly anticipated match between two sides which overcame some major obstacles such as Barcelona and Manchester United. The Nerazzurri had the tougher draw of the two teams playing last season’s winners Barcelona on four occasions while the Bavarians managed to ease past Lyon in the semi-finals after benefiting from Wayne Rooney’s injury to overcome the Red Devils on away-goals rule.
While Inter will miss Thiago Motta the Germans will be missing one of their biggest stars in the form of the suspended Frenchman Franck Ribery. In Ribery’s absence most if not all of Bayern’s dangerous moves will come from flying Dutchman Arjen Robben who has been one of the key figures behind the Bavarian club’s progress to the final match in Madrid. The German club and Robben will be facing a quality defensive line led by Lucio and Walter Samuel who successfully contained Barca’s star player Lionel Messi restricting his movement and limiting his scoring opportunities.
Inter’s weapons are spread all over the pitch but Dutchman Wesley Sneijder will be a crucial player with many of the Nerazzurri attacks andopportunities created by the former Real Madrid midfielder who will be playing on a familiar ground at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The Nerazzurri attacking duo of Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o can score against the best of defenders and will be a major threat moving forward against Bayern’s defensive line. At the helm the Nerazzurri will look up to Jose Mourinho with the Portuguese coach considered one of the game’s best motivators and an expert at exploiting mental weaknesses in the opposing side. Mourinho will be doing his analysis of Bayern’s game in a very diligent manner in order to expose the soft spots in the German side.
As for the Bavarians, they cannot be underestimated considering they have overcome Fiorentina and Manchester United in two heated ties in the knockout stages after dismantling fallen giants Juventus in the group stage. Bayern will rely on Robben in addition to the team’s strength as a unit and a group. The club’s main weakness is perhaps in goal with Hans-Jörg Butt considered as an inconsistent performer at this stage of his career. The 35-year-old had his best seasons while with Bayer Leverkusen but has now become a susceptible link in the Bayern team and it would not be a surprise if Mourinho urged his players, particularly the midfielders, to test the veteran goalkeeper whenever the opportunity surfaced. Butt did earn a contract extension once he took over the starring role in the team but that does not mean he has been a consistent performers. The goalkeeper who is renowned for scoring from penalty-kicks did impress in a number of games but he did whittle down when put to the test in certain games.
The performance of Bayern’s midfield along with Philipp Lahm who will have the tough task of containing Inter’s impressive full-back Douglas Maicon. The battle between Lahm and Maicon promises to be a decisive one and could sway the match in favour of one of the two sides. The one thing both clubs have in common is the fact they are both aiming for a historic treble. Inter have won the Coppa Italia and will be looking to add the Serie A title and the Champions League while Bayern have won the German Bundesliga and are aiming to add the DFB-Pokal as well as the Champions League.
If both clubs are able to win the domestic double then it will be interesting to see which team comes up on top in Madrid. There might be a major surprise a few days prior to the final considering Bayern Munich have appealed Ribery’s suspension to the European Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It will be quite stunning if Bayern do succeed in their appeal as UEFA has rejected it forcing the Bavarians to seek the intervention of CAS. Regardless of whether Ribery plays, Inter will maintain a slight edge considering Mourinho’s motivational skills and the massive morale boost gained by the Nerazzurri players after eliminating Barca.