UEFA Champions League Preview: Inter Milan Vs FC Bayern Munchen
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan
May 22, 2010, will remain an unforgettable day for Inter and Bayern supporters alike, but for very different reasons.
In the capital of Spain, Madrid, Inter lifted the UEFA Champions League for a third time in their history, while Bayern only watched as they succumbed to a loss for a fourth time in eight finals of the European Cup.
This season hasn't been great for Bayern. Arjen Robben succumbed to injury even before the season kicked off, and Bayern eventually fell apart in the Bundesliga.
Louis Van Gaal's stubborn nature ensured that no new defenders arrived at a club which needed some serious change to a very poor back-line. The back-line is even worse since that final.
Bayern has, however, picked up in the league and is now sitting third, following a 3-1 win over Mainz.
Daniel Van Buyten, who played in the final, has been relegated to the bench while Martin Demichelis has left the club. Philipp Lahm is the new captain and remains the right-back while Holger Badstuber has moved into central defence.
The other two spots in defence have been held by two of any of these four players: Anatoliy Tymoschchuk, new signing Luis Gustavo, Breno and Danijel Pranjic.
Will Bayern beat Inter?
The Champions League campaign has been wonderful. Bayern topped their group with five wins and one loss. Inter, meanwhile finished second in their Champions League group behind Tottenham Hotspur.
In the Serie A, Inter hasn't been setting the league alight and currently sits fourth. However, since Leonardo took over, they have lost only twice.
One of those losses came against Juventus, one of Bayern's victims in the last edition of the Champions League.
Bayern's strengths are their wings; Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are two of the best wingers in the world at the moment.
Ribery missed last season's final due to a ban he earned following a red card in the semi-finals. The two are injury-free and ready to run the widths of the San Siro.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is also a big threat. His passing is similar to that of Xavi.
He scores the occasional goal and sets up plenty of chances. He is a midfielder who can control the pace of the game.
Inter's strength, despite their lack of clean sheets this year and their horrible melt-down against Spurs, is their defence.
Which team, in your opinion is better positioned to win the tie?
When their defenders are fit and on-form, they are ready to go. Their are a great team on the counter-attack.
Bayern's weakness is their horrible defence. Van Gaal hasn't even bothered to fix the defence following last season's final.
Badstuber is perhaps the only central defender in the world who doesn't tackle. His partner Tymoschchuk seems to be in the wilderness at the back.
The less said about Luis Gustavo, the better it is for everyone.
Schweinsteiger needs to have a reliable partner next to him in defensive midfield. Danijel Pranjic is not reliable in any scenario as a DM.
Tymoschcuk has to play at the back and cannot partner Schweini as a result. Toni Kroos, back from injury, will probably take the role. Will he be ready, though, after such a long lay-off?
Bayern would perhaps like to have Mark Van Bommel for this match. Van Bommel, as we all know, lives in Milan now.
Inter's weakness is their strength: their defence. The defence has looked a fraction of what it looked like last season. With Lucio back, things should improve and Bayern will find it difficult to walk through a brick wall.
Which of these players might decide the game?
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Ivan Cordoba, Lucio, Christian Chivu; Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Thiago Motta; Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic; Samuel Eto'o.
Bayern: Thomas Kraft; Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Anatoliy Tymoschchuk, Luis Gustavo; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos; Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller, Franck Ribery; Mario Gomez.
Despite the fact that Bayern lost last season's final, I will make a brave prediction in this one.
Final Score: Inter 2-2 Bayern
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