Champions League Final Preview!
The last match of the European football season will be the most anticipated one: FC Bayern Munich will face off with Internazionale Milan in this year’s Champions League Final, played on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Both squads have won the most prestigious trophy in club competition multiple times (Bayern in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 2001, Inter in 1964 and 1965) and have enjoyed a season of terrific domestic success.
Inter, led by controversial manager Jose Mourinho, won their fifth consecutive Series A crown and 18th overall, finishing atop the table with 82 points. In addition, the Nerrazurri also claimed the ‘Coppa Italia’, the annual cup competition in Italy. In Champions League play, Inter boast the tournament’s best defense, having ceded only 3 goals against in their last 7 meetings. It was in the knockout stages where Inter truly began to flourish, frustrating Chelsea and CSKA Moscow before stifling Barcelona’s brilliant attacking unit in the semifinals.
Bayern, on the other hand, has had an improbable run after a rough start to the season. Managed by first-year Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, the team eventually bought into their new boss’ strategy and gradually improved. They secured yet another Bundesliga title (their 22nd overall) along with a ‘DFB-Pokal’, the German cup. Reinforced by new acquisition Arjen Robben, FCB also put their stamp on Champions League play, advancing past Fiorentina and Manchester United while beating the latter in an epic battle. It was Robben’s spectacular volley goal late in the second leg of the quarterfinal that allowed Bayern to advance on aggregate. Lyon was no match then for Munich’s potent attack in the semifinals.
The table is nicely set in Madrid, not only for a spectacular matchup between these two titanic clubs, but for history to be re-written. The winner will be assured their first ‘Triple’ in club history. No german or italian team has ever won the coveted combination of two national titles along with the Champions League. Either Mourinho or van Gaal will also join the elite club of coaches who have guided two different teams to ultimate glory in the most illustrious of club competitions.