History beckons for Bayern Munich and Inter with both teams looking to add the UEFA Champions League trophy to domestic league and cup doubles.
Inter coach Jose Mourinho will be seeking to reafirm his status as the ‘Special One’ while his former mentor, Louis van Gaal, is looking to capture a title he first win 15 years ago while managing Ajax.
Two of the most successful coaches of recent years, they were both at Barcelona more than a decade ago when Van Gaal was the head coach and Mourinho one of his back-up team.
“We worked together for three years,” Van Gaal said Friday. “He was an excellent coach and trainer and carried out all analyses for Barcelona and studied our opponents and did an excellent job.
“Little did I know that he would turn out such a great coach. He’s one of the best in the world.”
While Mourinho has an experienced and resolute defence to rely on, Van Gaal, without the suspended Franck Ribery, will look to the in-form Arjen Robben and Ivica Olic for inspiration.
“My philosophy is always to attack an opponent on the pitch,” Van Gaal said. “Mourinho is more defensive, that’s his tactic but he has good players who can decide the match.”
Mourinho posted a message on the club’s official website in which he detailed his hopes and fears as he prepares to lead his side for the final against Bayern Munich on Saturday.
His note read: “The Champions League is the most prestigious competition in world. It is a real competition that everyone wants to win and not everyone can do it.
“I want to win it for Inter. If I can help the players and if I can contribute a little bit as a coach to achieve the dream, then I will be happy.
Diego Milito will be Inter’s main attacking force with Samuel Eto’o close by and Wesley Sneijder supporting from an advanced midfield role.
Neither team will be at full strength at the Bernabeu, with Inter missing Brazilian defensive midfielder Thiago Motta after he was controversially sent off in the semi-final with Barcelona.
Julio Cesar should keep his place in goal, while Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti are expected to make up the defence.
Esteban Cambiasso, Goran Pandev and Cristian Chivu are likely to form a midfield trio behind Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito.
Bayern are without the aforementioned Ribery after he failed with his appeal against his red card in the first leg of the semi-finals against Lyon.
Hans-Jorg Butt will be in goal, with Philipp Lahm, tHolger Badstuber, Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento starting in defence.
Hamit Altintop, Mark van Bommel, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben are set to operate in midfield, behind Ivica Olic and Thomas Muller in attack.
This year’s final takes place in Madrid, where, if reports are to be believed, Mourinho will be managing next season as coach of Real.
Possible starting XIs
Inter: Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Pandev, Chivu, Eto’o, Sneijder, Milito.
Bayern Munich: Butt, Lahm, Badstuber, Van Buyten, Contento, Altintop, Van Bommel, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Olic, Muller.