Three thoughts after Inter Milan's 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final:
Two Argentines stole the show. It wasn’t just that Diego Milito scored both of Inter’s goals; it was that he did so with remarkable poise on the biggest stage in global club soccer. The relentless Argentine played a clever one-two with Wesley Sneijder before calmly finishing Goal No. 1, and then he torched Daniel van Buyten with a killer crossover on his way to Goal No. 2. How clutch is Milito? He scored the game-winner in the Coppa Italia final against Roma on May 5. Then he scored the decisive goal in Inter’s Scudetto-clinching win at Siena on May 16. And now he has provided two magnificent strikes in the Champions League final. But Milito wasn’t the only Argentine to shine. Inter midfielder Esteban Cambiasso was a constant force, covering acres of space, winning balls and immediately starting dangerous attacks. To think that Diego Maradona didn’t include Cambiasso on Argentina's 30-man World Cup preliminary roster is a disgrace.
José Mourinho deserved to be the world’s highest-paid coach. What more can you ask from the Special One? He outcoached Chelsea’s Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League Round of 16 with a tactical tour de force. He did the same to Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola in the semifinals, refusing to let Lionel Messi destroy his defense the way he had against Arsenal. And Mourinho got it right again in the final, deputizing Christian Chivu and Javier Zanetti to slow down Arjen Robben as he tried to attack down the right flank. Chivu and Zanetti got physical with Robben early, and the Dutch star was never able to provide the danger that he had against Manchester United and Fiorentina in earlier rounds. Hand Mourinho the Treble--and, most likely, a $20 million annual salary to take over at Real Madrid.
Bayern really missed Franck Ribéry. It’s a shame that the dynamic Frenchman had to sit out the final on a (deserved) red-card suspension. Ribéry’s darting runs down the left side could have opened up space in the Inter defense that might have allowed more room for Robben (on the right) and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had a lousy game in the middle. Still, this Bayern Munich team far exceeded any of its expectations this season under first-year coach Louis van Gaal. Yet the plaudits today should go to Inter, which deserved this trophy after taking out the champions of England (Chelsea), Spain (Barcelona) and Germany (Bayern Munich). Bravo, Nerazzurri, bravo.
What were your thoughts on the game?