Champions League – There Can Only Be One!!!!

20 05 2010

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In the heart of Spain history will be made on Saturday afternoon.

Bayern Munich  v  Internazionale

Talk about AXIS Powers.   Haha, J/K!!  Anyways we’ve got a great historic game on our hands.  The real story, when it comes to why this match is historic, involves the coaches.  Both Louis Van Gaal (Bayern Munich) and Jose “The Special One” Mourinho will make history as both have won the CL before.  No one has one two CL titles with two different teams.  Louis Van Gaal took his homeside to the glory in 95′ as AJAX won it all.  Jose took his country’s top side, FC PORTO, to glory in 04′.  Now adding to the mystical story line is the fact that these men coached together.

Louis van Gaal

YEP!  I’ll let Louis explain things.

“Jose was very modest back then. It was nice watching his development, to see that he has become such a personality,” Van Gaal said on the official UEFA website. “I knew he would help me because he was so passionate. He quickly noticed that I brought him forward. I think I educated him a little. I could immediately see he had an understanding of the game.”

That’s right Jose was an assistant to the Dutch great while both were on the sidelines of Camp Nou as they coached Barcelona.  Jose parlayed his lessons into his first main Head Coaching gig, back home, with FC Porto.

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O yeah on top of all that – both coaches will pull off a classic “treble” – as both Bayern Munich and Inter have won there Domestic Cups and Leagues and European Glory will complete the ultimate trio.  No team from Germany or Italy has won the treble – historic – see the theme here?

Last year Barcelona completed the Treble.

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The only other European team to pull off the Champions League Treble were the Mighty Manchester United squad of 1999.

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What a classic team – Alex Ferguson became a sir for pulling this off!!

Manchester United Squad Photo 1998/99

Manchester United Squad Photo 1998/99

So lets breakdown the game!!

Both teams have battled this season.  Inter had to hold off a surging Roma side.  Bayern Munich had to claw there way from one of the clubs WORST openings ever.  In the end they dominated domestically and now have knocked off the giants to make it to Madrid.  Now breaking down the game you have to first look at who won’t be on the pitch.

For Inter Milan they ad Thiago Motta (Red Card) to the list of unavailable.  Bayern Munich will lose a fellow midfielder starter in Franck Ribery.  Both will be missed but leave the team on equal footing going into Saturday.

Time to break down the squad a little.  There styles and who might be featured in the lineup and of course I’ll give my players to watch.

We’ll start with this tidbit of history involving former Barcelona striker and current Inter top target.  With a goal against Bayern, Samuel Eto’o would become the first player in the UEFA Champions League era to find the net in three finals. Only Real Madrid’s Alfredo di Stéfano has managed the feat previously – he scored in five successive finals between 1956 and 1960.

Ok so lets look at the Italians.

The infamous Blue team of the fiery city of Milan has built one of the most respected legacies of any Italian team.  Jose runs a solid 4-3-3 with Milan and it fits there team perfectly.  In goal you have one of the world’s best with Julio Cesar.  He’s an athletic beast that has been on his A game for the past two years.  But the history of the club (The system was made famous by Argentine trainer Helenio Herrera of Internazionale in the 1960s) and its current success is based on the ‘catenaccio’ system.  This system is about defensive ownership and the word ‘catenaccio’ translates as “door-bolt”.  Thus the defensive unit is key and Inter’s current four horsemen of the apocalypse are four of the best ever.  Brazilians Maicon and Lucio anchor the left side and Argentinians Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti anchor the right side.  All four have built hall-of-fame careers for the serpents of Italy.

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3 of the 4 and how about that other crazy horseman?

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Ok Captain – WE SEE YA BIG MUSCLES – Geez Javier – Calm down.

Now to the midfield where one man has taken over for Inter.  Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) were both tossed away by Real Madrid.  What a story that the dutch leaders own the field while Cristiano and Kaka watch on Tv.  Wesley came into Inter and forced Jose to tweak his offense so that the Dutch attacking mid would thrive.  The Special One has never missed on seeing Special in his players.  Its really simple to figure out who he is on the pitch.  He’s the one wearing the #10.

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Esteban Cambiasso anchors the defensive side of midfield while Wesley pushes everything forward.  Add on a wealth of striking choices with Samuel Etoo, Goran Pandev, Mario “hate me” Balotelli, and the lead goal-scorer Diego Milito.

Player to watch for:  Inter’s Serbian midfielder Dejan Stanković.

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Dejan doesn’t stand out to most people but his ability to shine when you least expect it is key.  The 31 year old has been really quiet as of late and I think he’s due for a juggernaut performance.  Dejan’s got a rocket shot when he lets loose and the quick pitch should lead to him being in the perfect position for a drop back pass from Wesley.  Yeah I can see it now a 25 foot rocket that barrels into the net.  Bold but easily possible with the Stank man.

Now for De Germans.

Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal aka Louis Gaal runs the show (as he should with his resume).

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This one’s simple if Jose loves the 4-3-3 – who exactly did he learn it from – good ol’ Louis of course.  And whats the first thing the Dutch Coach did at Bayern Munich was change Bayern’s classic 4-4-2 to an extremely flexible 4-3-3.  This seemed like  a bad decision with Munich horrible first month of football.  But he found his pace and Munich once again rose to the top.  And now Louis has them on verge of history!

The squad.  In goal is the MENACE that is 6-3 Hans-Jorg Butt.   He’s a freaking menace because he is a tremendous free-kick taker (maybe the world’s best – well for Goalie’s who do it at least).  The lanky German is a funky looking athlete but is one of the world’s best.  The 4 man defense has been in a state of flux.  There is the stalwarts with vets Philip Lahm and Daniel Van Buyten.  Then ad the flair of Argentinian Martín Demichelis and you have your anchors.  But one position needed filling and Louis has gone with one of two kids along the way – Germans Diego Contento and Holger Badstuber have fought for playing time.  Holger has won out most  of the time and both youngsters (20 and 21 respectively) will be anchors for Munich for a long time to come.  In the midfield Gaal has made his most bold move.  He pushed Bastian Schweinsteiger into a more holding defensive mid rather then his attack minded winger position.  He’s buddy back there is vet Mark Van Bommel.  Those two allow for playmaker Arjen Robben to float throughout and team up with any of the three strikers up top.   Without Franck, Turkish midfielder Hamit Altintop will most likely start.  But I don’t see him staying on the field if Inter jumps to an early lead.  Croatian Iliva Olic has become a staple of the striker line, as one of the newer players the 30 year old has established himself well.  The other striker should be this kid who is also our Player to Watch.

Bayern Munich’s 20 year-old striking sensation Thomas Müller.

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Louis Van Gaal could be playing proven vets like Miroslav Klose or Mario Gomez, but like with his defense Louis has given chances to kids.  Thomas has taken the challenge and impressed.  And if one player helped spark Bayern’s turn-around in domestic play this kid is that player.  He’s been electric on home soil.  Champions League he’s done decent but not spectacular.  But with all the hype about Arjen Robben being a bad ass, Thomas has the easy chance of slipping under Inter’s defensive radar.  Olic style doesn’t bode well for him being a goal-scorer on Saturday, but the lanky and deceptively agile Muller does bode well.  Seriously it wouldn’t shock me to see Arjen lean on Muller and the duo figure out a nice bit of work leading to a goal.

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Yep I’m thinking this penguin has it right.  INTER MILAN 3 – 2 victory over BAYERN MUNICH.  I like the game winning goal to come from Mr. “Echo” E’too!  Remember in the end one of these teams will drink from this big ass thing.

Bayern and Inter set for Bernabéu showpiece

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