By the end of this evening, either Jose Mourinho or Louis van Gaal will have joined that elite list of managers who have won two European Cups: Jose Villalonga (Real Madrid 1956 and 1957), Luis Carniglia (Real Madrid 1958 and 1959), Bela Guttmann (Benfica 1961 and 1962), Helenio Herrera (Internazionale 1964 and 1965), Stefan Kovacs (Ajax 1972 and 1973), Dettmar Cramer (Bayern Munich 1975 and 1976), Brian Clough (1979 and 1980), Ernst Happel (Feyenoord 1970 and Hamburg 1983), Arrigo Sacchi (1989 and 1990), Ottmar Hitzfeld (Borussia Dortmund 1997 and Bayern Munich 2001), Vicente del Bosque (Real Madrid 2000 and 2002), Carlo Ancelotti (Milan 2003 and 2007) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United 1999 and 2008). Actually, it’s not that elite a list, is it.
Managers who have won three European Cups yet scarcely get a mention these days, for goodness sake: Bob Paisley (Liverpool 1977, 1978 and 1981).
Anyway, van Gaal is looking to add to his 1995 title with Ajax, while Mourinho is aiming for two in the hole after winning it in 2004 with Porto. Mourinho is also well on his way to emulating the feats of the uber-legendary Inter coach Helenio Herrera. He’s already, as the outstanding coach of his generation, slipped through Barcelona’s fingers, just like Herrera did back in 1960. Like the Argentinian, he’s won the Serie A title with Inter, a Coppa Italia (Herrera did this with Roma) and the Uefa Cup at Porto (a trophy Herrera won with Barcelona). He’s also, of course, already matched Herrera in winning the European Cup – but in doing so today with Inter, and for a second time in total, there’d be a much more obvious symmetry. Which means all he’ll need to tick all the Herrera boxes is a Spanish title and cup, and he’ll no doubt be picking up those soon upon buggering off to Real Madrid after the game.
Bayern, though, have their own landmark in sight. A win today will see them win their fifth title, and become the third most successful club in European Cup history. (Liverpool have five cups too, but they’ve only reached seven finals to Bayern’s nine.) They’ve been scintillating in attack, utterly shoddy in defence – just compare both halves of their visit to Old Trafford this season. This game, therefore, should be a classic. Sadly, it’s almost guaranteed to be tosh, as the final’s being telecasted on a major US network (Fox) for the very first time.
Kick off: 7.45pm BST, 8.45pm CEST, 2.45pm EDT. What with all the sun outside, and the hours of anticipation, today is almost like an old-school FA Cup final day. In the USA. Sort of.
Bayern Munich, who have the banned Franck Ribery replaced by Hamit Altintop: Butt; Lahm, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Badstuber; van Bommel, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Altintop; Muller, Olic.
Internazionale, who are missing suspended midfielder Thiago Motta: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Cambiasso; Sneijder; Eto’o, Milito, Pandev.
Football as circus #1: This match will do well to live up to the shenanigans at Wembley this afternoon, where the defences of Blackpool and Cardiff City made like a clown’s vehicle in this modern classic.
Football as circus #2: WWF-UK got Graeme Le Saux to paint this, one of 250 life-size baby elephant sculptures decorated by celebrities to raise awareness of the crisis facing the endangered Asian elephant. More details about The Elephant Parade 2010 here.
Football as circus #3: The referee for today’s game, the biggest in club football, is… wait for it… Howard Webb (England). He really wants you to smell his funny flower! But watch out! Don’t smell that funny flower!
Boom! There’s a hole in my intro. “Surely a more elite group either van Gaal or Mourinho will join will be that of managers who have won the European Cup with two different teams, which only two have achieved according to your list,” notes Etienne Michelet. It’s a fair point well made, with only Happel and Hitzfeld in that band. In fact, today’s winner will find themselves scrawled on an even more elite roll of honour: managers who have won it in two countries, seeing only Happel has pulled that trick off before. How much more elite do you want it? Not much more elite, I hope, because there ain’t that much more elite to go round. I’m tired already.
I also forgot to mention: Whoever wins today completes a treble of league, cup and cup-league hybrid-type-thing. Yay! An impressive achievement no doubt, rendered only slightly less so by the fact Barcelona won one a mere 12 months ago. And should Bayern win, let it be noted they didn’t win their league last season, so their treble would compare not one jot with the ones completed by Celtic in 1967, Ajax in 1972, and PSV Eindhoven in 1988, on account of the extra season’s worth of spadework that lot put in. Just saying.
The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is bouncing. One side a sea of red, the other a swathe of blue. The Inter end in particular – their fans starved of European Cup final action since 1972 – is oscillating wildly. The pitch in the middle is flat and green with no moles poking their heads out of it, which should go without saying, shouldn’t it. “An interesting mix of personalities among those managers – there just isn’t a template is there?” asks Gary Naylor. “Bob Paisley (even Evertonians think it should be Sir Bob Paisley) might be the quietest of the all, but he is attributed one of my favourite sporting quotes. In 1977, asked whether he feared Borussia Moenchengladbach (Liverpool’s opponents in the Italian capital) he said, ‘Well, the last time I went to Rome to face the Germans, I was sitting in a tank.'”
The latest public meltdown of Mario Balotelli: Dropped from the starting XI – he was in the Inter side that began last weekend’s 1-0 win at Siena – he hasn’t even bothered warming up.
The teams are out! They waltz down that fancy backlit staircase from the changing rooms, past the trophy plinth, and out onto the lush turf. Inter are in their traditional blue and black shirts, Bayern kitted out in their mostly-traditional red-and-white tops. The Germans get into a huddle. The Italians… well, there aren’t any of those on the pitch, but now’s not the time for cheap digs. The waiting is nearly over, Mourinho and van Gaal both looking nervous on the sidelines.
And we’re off! Inter get the ball rolling, and keep hold of it for the best part of a minute. Lahm, down by the corner flag on the Bayern right, stretches for the ball, Pandev needing no second invitation to go over his leg. The free kick’s in a dangerous position, but swung in by Schneijder, it’s easily punched clear by Butt. A lively start by Inter.
3 min: Bayern were on the back foot for a while there, but suddenly Robben breaks free down the right. Samuel comes over and, 40 yards out, upends him without ceremony. Howard Webb struts across purposefully, but doesn’t show a yellow; he’d have been well within his rights to do so. Mourinho dancing in anger on the touchline may or may not have convinced him to leave his card be, at least for now.
5 min: Milito, after a run down the inside-left channel, and Pandev jiggle around on the edge of the Bayern area, the former falling over and doing a lot of shouting. Staunch defending by Demichelis snuffs out any danger.
8 min: It’s all a bit harum-scarum at the moment, this. Nervous young men have yet to settle in the biggest game of their lives. “I was keeping a close eye on Javier Zanetti before kick-off,” writes Sean Boiling. “I didn’t see him call the team together and tell them, ‘ignore what he said in the dressing room we’re going to do it like this’ as he apparently did in Argentina’s final qualifier. Still, this is Mourinho not Maradona.”
10 min: What a run by Robben, who walks past Chivu tight on the right touchline, then rips into the area. Samuel comes over to cover, but Robben drops a shoulder and reaches the byline, pulling a low ball back for the inrushing Muller, who’s level with the right-hand post and six yards out. Robben’s scintillating work deserved a better finish, the striker unable to do anything but wallop the ball low and well wide right.
13 min: Bayern are enjoying the better of this, all of a sudden. Altintop picks the ball up in the centre, shifts the ball to the left just outside the area, turns back again and attempts a right-footed curler into the top right. It’s deflected away for a corner, which is easily claimed by Julio Cesar. “Couldn’t we have this decided please by handing big sticks to Rumminige, Moratti, van Gaal, and Mourinho and direct them to the nearest mudhole where they can beat each other to a bloody pulp–overseen, of course, by the ‘English representive’, Mr Webb?” asks Lou Roper, convicted felon and former special advisor to Michel Platini.
15 min: Howard Webb’s largesse to Samuel earlier on seems to have given Inter the excuse to put the boot in on Robben; Sneijder trod on his ankle a couple of minutes ago. Oh Howard! The pocket winger is up and about quickly enough, swinging a ball into the area from the right for Van Buyten, who heads weakly onto Maicon’s forearm. Bayern claim for a penalty, but it would have been the weakest penalty award in the history of All Football, at least since Webb last [insert your own anecdote here, we’ve all got them].
18 min: From an innocent looking position 40-odd yards out , just to the left of goal, Shneijder goes for goal. It’s heading into the top-right corner, too, before Butt punches cleanly away. The ball’s worked back into the area from the right, Cambiasso attempting an ersatz Zidane-style volley, perhaps mindful of Butt’s pain back in 2002. He completely mishits it, anyway.
22 min: It’s been lively, without being exciting, Bayern just about having the edge. Muller bumbles and bustles in the English style on the edge of the Inter box, before Robben latches onto the ball and attempts to thrash it home. The attempt to loop it home is more of a balloon, the ball rising into the stand at the back. “Is Robben the player with the most pained career in footballing history?” asks Øivind Idsø. “Nobody hurts like him after a tackle, no matter how innocent it might have been. Perhaps he has brittle bones.” Or perhaps referees let his opponents kick him all around the place like an old sock. Oh Howard!
25 min: The first yellow card of the evening, and it’s for Demichelis, the big man coming straight through the back of Milito, 30-odd yards out.
26 min: Sneijder has clearly decided to turn up the heat on Butt, lashing another long-distance free kick towards goal. The keeper is easily behind it and gathers without fuss.
28 min: Milito cuts inside from the left, rolling the ball to Pandev on the corner of the box. Pandev attempts a one-two with Sneijder, but the ball’s cut out by Van Buyten. A rare attempt at football, which falls apart. On the whole, it’s been poor, this.
30 min: Webb should have (at least) booked a couple of folk for their challenges on Robben, but hasn’t. Now he puts Chivu in the book after Robben pretends to have been pulled back by the shirt. That’s a shameless dive, and one which puts Chivu in a lot of bother for the rest of this match, because he’s been rocking against Robben.
32 min: Altintop skins Maicon down the right, but his low cross from the byline is smothered by Julio Cesar. Then Muller has a dig from distance, only to boot into the stand. Neither keeper has had any serious work to do.
35 min: GOAL!!! OUT OF NOTHING!!! Bayern Munich 0-1 Internazionale. This was so simple when it happened, real route-one stuff. Milito, his back to goal 30 yards out, heads down a long punt from Julio Cesar to his right, where Sneijder awaits. Demichelis made no effort to get a head on that whatsoever. The Dutchman slips an immediate return ball down the inside-right channel, allowing Milito, who has turned, to burst into the box, hesitate, and dink a confident shot straight into the net. Inter had done nothing up to this point, but that was brilliantly worked.
37 min: Eto’o finally kicks the ball, and so nearly works an opening for himself on the edge of the Bayern box. “Is Jose channelling Dave Bassett?” wonders Sean Boiling.
40 min: Robben picks the ball up on the right, cuts inside, and tries to recreate his goal against Fiorentina. The shot’s curling towards the top-left corner, but not quite enough, sailing over the bar by a couple of feet. A warning that this is far from over.
43 min: Again, simple but brilliant football from Inter. Cambiasso pings Sneijder off on the breakaway, down the left. Van Buyten is there to cover, but can’t do anything as the ball’s rolled further down the wing to the fast-pumping Milito, who checks back and rolls the ball back into the centre for Sneijder, free in the area, ten yards out. Inexplicably, he sidefoots straight at Butt, when it was surely easier to score in either side of the goal.
HALF TIME: Bayern Munich 0-1 Internazionale. In the very last seconds of the half, van Bommel sends a daisycutter in from 25 yards. Julio Cesar has it covered, the ball sailing wide left. Inter did absolutely nothing for 35 minutes, before suddenly blooming; it really should be 2-0.
And we’re off again! Bayern get the ball moving – and how! They play the ball straight down the middle of the park, and within two passes, the first from Olic, the killer from Altintop, Muller finds himself free in the area! His shot is low and poor, straight at Julio Cesar. That would have been sensational. That should have been sensational.
47 min: What a start to the half! Milito breaks down the left, reaches the area, cuts back and rolls the ball to Pandev, who from the edge of the area sidefoots a curling beauty towards the top-left corner. Butt arches his back and tips the ball over the bar. What great football all round.
50 min: Schweinsteiger finds himself in a pocket of space 25 yards from the Inter goal. He panics, though, flicking an immediate ball out right to Olic. A complete waste, with the opportunity to either shoot, or wait until Olic was set and in space himself to receive a pass. Bayern have come out with more purpose.
52 min: Altintop – who has been very impressive – flicks the ball out right to Robben. The Dutch winger cuts inside and attempts to Fiorentina it into the top-left yet again – this is getting old. His effort is easily charged down.
54 min: It’s end to end now, very pleasing. Pandev is brought down dead centre, 25 yards out. Sneijder blazes over. Then Lucio faffs around in his own area, allowing the ball to break to Altintop who, to the left of goal ten yards out, sells the clumsy defender a dummy and drags a decent shot just wide left.
56 min: Van Bommel nearly releases Robben with a delicious 40-yard first-time pass down the inside-right channel. Chivu cuts the ball out brilliantly. This game feels like there’s more goals in it.
59 min: Robben dinks and diddles so impressively down the right that he confuses his own man, Lahm set free but forced to chase after a surprise pass. He manages to cut it back into the area just before it goes out of play, an equally shocked Cambiasso forced to stick out a leg to stop the ball going into the six-yard box. He’s not far from slicing it into his own net. The entire Bernabeu lets out a long collective whistle. The corner is wasted.
62 min: Robben runs between Pandev and Chivu down the right, and is upended. It’s a free kick. Van Bommel questions whether Chivu should pick up a second yellow, but it was Pandev who touched Robben, and not even Webb is stupid enoug… actually, here’s a substitution, I’ll not get time to finish that.
64 min: Klose replaces Altintop, who looked decent to me, but I’m simple folk. From the free kick, bouncing into the area from the right, Muller takes a low-quality swing at the ball from eight yards, Cambiasso allowed to head clear when surely Inter should have been picking the ball out of the net.
65 min: Robben cuts inside from the right, and nearly does Fiorentina it this time, fingertips from Julio Cesar saving Inter at the last. Mourinho’s side are hanging on a bit here.
68 min: Chivi, who has struggled all evening one way or the other, is replaced by Stankovic. It’ll be down to Zanetti to look after the lively Robben now. “This isn’t baseball, Bayern need an opener not a Klose.” Ladies and gentlemen, that was Sean Boiling. He’s here all week, try the tapas.
70 min: GOAL!!! Bayern Munich 0-2 Internazionale. This was another beautiful finish by Milito. And again, it was the simplest of goals. Eto’o rolls a pass down the inside-left channel for Milito, who runs at the confused Van Buyten, turns him hither and yon, then scoops a calm shot into the right-hand side of the net. On the touchline, Mourinho is appealing for calm. Really, the brass neck on him.
73 min: Olic is replaced by Gomes. Bayern are visibly deflated, their efforts this half looking all for naught.
75 min: Lahm breezes down the right and hugs the byline. Klose waits patiently in the centre for a pass that never comes. Samuel waltzes off with the ball.
78 min: Van Bommel is booked for a dreadful studs-up lunge on Lucio. He only brushed the defender’s shinpads; full contact would surely have seen a red card.
79 min: Muntari comes on for Pandev, Mourinho shoring this one up.
83 min: Schweinsteiger attempts a ludicrous Crisitiano Ronaldo impression, two very slow stepovers, eventually going over Lucio’s leg. That’s a free kick, 30 yards out, dead central. Robben whacks it straight into the wall. Bayern appear spent.
85 min: Robben is all over the park now in a desperate attempt to make something happen before it really is way too late. Like that’s not the case already. He jinks down the inside-left channel and, just before reaching the byline, hammers a shot straight across the Inter six-yard box. Nobody’s in the centre to turn it in. This is over.
87 min: Sneijder buys some time by drawing a free kick from van Bommel, who is only really interested in kicking folk now. “Will Patrick Viera be receiving some medals in the post for his part in Inter’s trophies in the first half of the season?” wonders David Wall. “I’m sure Mancini will be the first at City asking to see them if he does.”
90 min: Eto’o, who has been quiet, but worked hard, nearly breaks clear after a power run straight down the middle. When it breaks down, Milito attempts to move the ball on for him, but the pass is too strong. There will be three added minutes of this.
90 min +2: To a personal ovation, two-goal Diego Milito is replaced by… Marco Materazzi. I can’t wait to see how Mario Balotelli celebrates Inter’s win.
AND THAT’S IT! INTERNAZIONALE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1965!!! Bayern Munich 0-2 Internazionale. Before the final whistle, Mourinho goes over to shake van Gaal’s hand. And then the Bernabeu erupts. As does Mourinho, who is in tears as he smiles, runs onto the pitch, embraces his players, and salutes the crowd.
Mourinho is going through some micro-cycles of emotion: smiling, laughing and hugging, crying uncontrollably, then smiling, laughing and hugging again. It’s surely the singlemost joyous celebration witnessed at the final whistle of a European Cup final for many years. After about five minutes of it, he buggers off down the tunnel carrying his son – “No10 Jose Jnr” – on his back. Bye, then! What are the odds on him popping back out with a Real Madrid top on?
Obvious Point dept: Inter deserved that. Despite Bayern enjoying an awful lot of possession, they achieved nothing much of note. Inter on the other hand were more clinical, the better side in the game – and in the entire tournament, too, having dealt with both Barcelona and Chelsea, the only other teams one could make a convincing argument for this season. “Two shots, two goals, number 22 – it was meant to be I guess,” writes Jonny Mac. “Well done Jose.”
Inter form a guard of honour for the losing Bayern Munich side. As they go up to get their medals, Jose reappears on the pitch. He appears to have calmed down a bit. He stands watching them for a while, then closes his eyes to soak in the atmosphere.
And now – retracing the journey of John McGovern et al in 1980 – Inter climb the stairs to pick up their pot. Michel Platini hands out the medals – then gives Javier Zanetti the big-eared dod of metal to lift and wave about. The Inter captain immediately puts it on his head, wearing it like a hat. That’s some good old-school cavortin’!
And as the players jig about, Mourinho mooches off. He walks around the pitch towards the Inter fans, shakes a few hands, waves at them, taps the Inter crest on his blazer, waves some more, then departs. Real fin de siècle stuff. The Inter team are still bouncing up and down with the cup somewhere in the stadium, I think. But nobody seems to care much. Now that’s star quality.
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