South crushed north in Germany’s cup final, as Bayern Munich devoured the second slice of a potential treble cake! Although the scoreline indicates a commanding, one-sided affair, Hans-Jörg Butt capped his World Cup call-up by making some impressive stops.
Said international competition was clearly on the mind of several Bremen stars, compounded by a feeling of ‘job done’ having secured their place in next season’s Champions League. Six players handed Die Grün-Weißen jerseys had been named in various World Cup squads during the week, and a determination to avoid injury undoubtedly lingered in the minds of several players. Overlooked stars such as Naldo and Torsten Frings did little to change the minds of Dunga and Jogi Löw, however.
Although one expected Bayern to take their foot off the proverbial gas in this game (10 players in World Cup squads; Champions League final a mere 7 days away; league won on the preceding weekend), four goals from four supremely talented and presumably tired individuals put paid to forecasts of title-securing hangovers.
Thus, going into the European Cup final, Inter boss José Mourinho, who saw his side scrape the Scudetto courtesy of a 1-0 win over relegated Siena, may have been worried by the sight of FC Hollywood’s continuing momentum…
… but if the Marmite coach had lost beauty sleep, it wasn’t worth it. His patient Internazionale side earned the moniker ‘European champions’ after proving more ruthless in front of goal. Bayern bossed the ball and had numerous opportunities to open the scoring, but through a combination of profligacy and frustration, they failed to truly trouble Julio Cesar.
On the rare occasions the Italian champions came forward, their fluid front-four (off-ball, Samuel Eto’o and Goran Pandev were quick to tuck and muck, so on those occasions, it was just Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder up top) ripped the Bavarians’ defensive *shape* to shreds, and the free-firing Argentine Señor Milito did what he does he best.
Ruthlessly disciplined, killers of football, cynical melina-playing/counter-attacking Italians – label Inter what you will, but like the thrilling Barcelona side Mourinho and his XI outfought and out-thought at the semi-final stage, Bayern’s passing, possession-based and dribbling tactics were rendered futile, and it was they who ended up with silver medals.
As Greece in 2004, and Rangers in 2008 discovered, letting the opposition have the ball is a feasible way of reaching the finals of prestigious competitions.