Wednesday, April 28, 2010
In and out: Inter vs Barcelona
Inter to the final. Barcelona goes home. Not many predicted this outcome... but should we be so surprised? It was Jose "The Special One" Mourinho at the helm for Inter. Always a masterful tactician, sneaky when required and brilliant when the pressure is on. This game was also about familiar foes with different styles. Eto'o was once with Barca but got traded for Ibrahimovic. Ibra was powerless thanks to a stout Italian defense. Eto'o had the fortune, although without a goal, of having wide open lanes for counters. It was also Lucio versus Dani Alves, Sneijder versus Messi, Xavi versus Cambiasso. The list goes on.
Inter defended like a true Italian team. Add to that Mourinho's specialty of dealing with superclubs and you have the perfect recipe at the perfect time. Oh, we're forgetting that Inter lost 1-0 even though they lost Thiago Motta. Not an easy outcome against the best striking force in the planet.
There's another side to this coin. Barcelona is feeling the weight of high-level competitions and the burden of being champions in all three (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League). They were also missing Iniesta, a game-changer any given Sunday. Couple this with the very real fact that most of Europe has had an eye on Barca throughout the past year and broken through Guardiola's scheme on more than one occasion (Rubin comes to mind, plus their elimination from the Copa).
Internazionale of Milan are no pushovers, though. They have Julio Cesar as their net-minder, Lucio, Motta, Zanetti, Samuel, Maicon, Cambiasso and Chivu all defending Italian-style. Milito and Eto'o are some of the world's best. Oh, and Sneijder... often overlooked but with a style that makes him a dark horse for best player at this summer's World Cup.
So now we have no Spanish teams or English teams (the better leagues in the world). Instead it's Italy vs Germany. Defense versus midfield. Inter have not won the title since 1965 and haven't been to a final since 1972; Bayern Munich hasn't done it since 2001. They never me in a final.
Special One 1 - Rest of the World 0. Halftime. Let's see what happens in the Bernabeu on May 22. A great warm-up for south Africa.