Inter Milan 2-0 Bayern Munich: The Depressing Champions League Final Analyzed
With both Inter Milan and Bayern Munich going for trebles, one might have hoped for a classic finale to the greatest football club competition on Earth. Instead we were subjected to an ordinary match between two ordinary teams with decidedly ordinary tactics.
Make no mistake about it, coaches all over the world will wake this morning with the Champions League Final firmly in their mind and not one will be thinking about the lack of ideas on Bayern Munich's part. No, they will be looking to emulate the suffocating display deployed by Jose Mourinho's men on the night.
Let's call a spade a spade: Bayern Munich's attack was pretty blunt last night, with a profound lack of ideas. Their only real ploy was to get the ball out to the right as quick as possible to Arjen Robben for the Dutchman to wreak havoc.
It was this quite depressing and unimaginative tactic that Louis van Gaal placed all his bets upon last night, and Jose like the rest of the world knew exactly how to counter it.
Christian Chivu quite deliberately moved out of his conventional positioning to block Robben's route down the line forcing the winger inside where he met two if not three Inter players lying in wait.
Once or twice he broke through as expected, but when he did Julio Cesar was equal to the task of keeping the Dutchman at bay, and after that? Bayern had no plan b.
It would have been interesting if van Gaal had moved Robben out to his natural left-sided position where he would have been able to isolate Maicon into a one-on-one. There he may have been able to take the Brazilian down the line so he could cross the ball where Olic, Klose, and Muller, all good headers of the ball, would have been waiting.
This slight change in tactics may have asked different questions of Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan but van Gaal chose to stick with the method that wasn't working...
On Inter Milan?
Anyone who knows anything about football knows that Jose Mourinho is not a defensive coach, but that he places a large emphasis on defense, as all great coaches do.
However, last night he showed a distinct lack of imagination and played off Bayern's mistakes rather than his own teams prowess.
As manager of Inter Milan his priority is winning trophies and not entertaining. However, football is an absorbing spectacle and a match like last nights will influence many people across the world.
Make no bones about it, children will not be inspired to say "I'm Christian Chivu, I'm showing you inside..." No, the life-blood of tomorrow want to see daring trickery, imaginative play, crunching tackles, death defying dribbling, and brilliant passing.
Seeing a team play eight players in defense will not inspire children to take up arms and charge around to the nearest green to recreate Inter Milan's gameplan, but somewhat sadly, it will inspire unimaginative coaches all over the world.
What Inter Milan did defensively last night was brilliant. It was a display that had every player working as a team, covering each other, playing for each other, and fighting for each other; however, their lack of ambition to get on the ball is what will cause problems when coaches try to emulate them.
Unlike a counter attacking boxer who dances around the ring avoiding blows before countering, which can be beautiful to watch, Inter resembled a bigger, stronger, boxer standing there taking the blows from his weaker opponent before dispatching him brutally.
The problem I am speaking of is based around the fact that junior players at schoolboy-level or Sunday league-level lack the tools to get on the ball and make something happen.
When managers try to emulate last nights tactic they will tell their teams to back off and allow their opponents to have the ball, safe in the knowledge that they probably won't be able to do any real damage with it and that the end result will be a punt into the box. Managers will demand their players defend rather than defend and attack at the right times.
As said before, Inter Milan's main reason for existence is to win trophies. However, the main reason for football's existence is to entertain. The two can and should meet.
In normal years the Champions League Final would be the highlight of the FIFA calender. This year with the World Cup Final on July 11th the game has a chance to redeem itself.
The tournament needs good attacking entertaining football to inspire the next generation of footballer. Did Cristiano Ronaldo get inspired by watching dull, uninspired defensive football? Did Lionel Messi grow up wanting to be Oscar Ruggeri or Diego Maradona? How many kids grew up in the '60s and '70s wanting to be Jack Charlton when they could have been Bobby?
What marks Inter Milan's display as depressing is that Jose Mourinho is the greatest coach of this generation. He has proved that he is capable of changing his style of play for every match and that he is one of the few managers to actually understand tactics.
Inter Milan's team last night were not a side that were cobbled together, they have world class players available to them. Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito, Javier Zanetti, and Wesley Sneijder, to name but a few.
They may have won the Champions League, but they, and we, deserve it to be won better.