And then there were two.
Barcelona will not be renewing their European Champions League run to the title, as they have been eliminated by Inter Milan. Also, German powerhouse Bayern Munich easily dispatched French side Lyon.
Many consider Barcelona as the best current soccer squad in the world. What this series with Inter Milan has shown is that the best collection of players not always beats the best team. At home, Inter was able to overcome an early Barcelona away goal (Pedro, 19th minute) to rally to a 3-1 result, with goals coming from Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito. A 3-1 advantage was not a sure deal as away goals count double in the case when both teams score the same amount of goals.
During the last weekend Inter were actually able to take the number one spot in the Italian league, taking advantage of a loss by rivals Roma. But the best was yet to come, as a masterful tactical display was seen during the 2nd leg at Camp Nou (Barcelona). Inside the first half-hour of the game Inter found themselves reduced to 10 players, as a (arguable?) red card was shown to Thiago Motta. The Italian side had to organize themselves in order to surpass this even greater challenge. It definitely paid off, with Barcelona’s lone goal coming at the 84th minute, by Piquet.
38 years later, Inter Milan, with José Mourinho at the helm, are back in the finals of the world’s biggest soccer club competition.
In Madrid they will face Bayern Munich, a team that currently are also leading their national league.
The first leg did not really decide anything regarding this series. Bayern were able to get a thin win at home over Lyon, by way of 69th minute goal produced by Dutch player Robben. Coming into the second leg this series was definitely wide open.
With stunning ease, Bayern Munich were able to go into France and deliver an emphatic 3-0 win. On top of that, all 3 goals (a hattrick) were scored by Ivica Olic, easily this series’ hero.
Italian football versus German football. Two teams which currently lead their current home leagues. Both teams are packed with stars but can also be very tactical when needed.
The finals are on, May 22nd, at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid.