Champions League Final: Five Players to Lead Inter Milan to Victory

Ryan PopilchakCorrespondent IMay 20, 2010

ROME - MAY 05:  Javier Zanetti (R) of Inter Milan celebrates after the Tim Cup final between FC Internazionale Milano and AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico on May 5, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Inter will beat Bayern for the UEFA Champions League title this Saturday. While no game is ever a sure thing, there are five players who will play key roles for Inter in the match.

No. 5: Mario Balotelli

While Balotelli can be ripe for an implosion, he is also the most mercurial, game-changing talent on the pitch. His combination of size, speed, ball control and finish is a handful for any defense, especially the shaky defense of Bayern Munich.

Balotelli is much more likely to be used as a sub than a starter, but could be in line for a late goal. He has the best “goals per 90 min” rate of any Inter player.

No. 4: Douglas Maicon

With Franck Ribery suspended for the Final, Maicon is likely to breath the biggest sigh of relief. Even though Ribery has been less effective than in past years, he still forces the fullback on his side to play almost entirely in a defensive role. Maicon should be able to push forward and create offense without having as much defensive responsibility (apologies to Hamit Altintop).

No. 3: Wesley Sneijder

Although there are doubts about Sneijder’s health for the final, he is crucial nonetheless. He is the one true creator on Inter and would draw all of Mark van Bommel’s attention, leaving the strikers to pick apart Bayern’s weak central defensive partnership.

No. 2: Diego Milito

Milito has been nothing short of sensational this year. He has found the net when Inter needed it most, most notably to seal the Scudetto on the final Sunday of play. With 28 goals in all competitions (and four in Champions League), he is the key offensive weapon in Mourinho’s arsenal.

No. 1: Javier Zanetti

Zanetti has been employed both as a left back and as a holding midfielder this season by Mourinho. No matter where he has played, he’s found a way to shut down the opposition’s best playmaker. He combined with Chivu to shut down the dynamic duo of Dani Alves and Lionel Messi and took Anelka out of the match against Chelsea.

Bayern have been almost entirely dependent on Arjen Robben’s timely goals throughout the Champions League, and if Zanetti can once again shackle his man, then this contest is over.