MADRID: Today’s Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan is so much more than just one game of soccer with a myriad of intertwined storylines promising an intriguing night whatever happens on the field.
The first final brings together two teams gunning for trebles and is crucial to whether Germany or Italy have four Champions League qualifying berths from 2011.
Bayern are desperate to win their first Champions League in nine years, having failed to progress past the last-eight since winning it in 2001. They have won the trophy four times. Inter have not won Europe’s top title since 1965 and coach Jose Mourinho will want to leave Milan having given them the one trophy they have desperately been seeking for decades with fruitless investment worth millions.
The Portuguese coach will also want to outfox his mentor Van Gaal, who was in charge at Barcelona when Mourinho was an assistant coach there in the late 1990s.
For Bayern’s Arjen Robben and Inter’s Wesley Sneijder it will also be a return to Madrid after they were sold by Real Madrid last year to make space for big names including Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The venue – Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium – is a familiar territory to many of the players but especially Netherlands team mates Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. They played in the same Real Madrid team together last season before Robben left for Bayern and Sneijder joined Inter.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.