Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Milito Show
Jose Mourinho's tactics worked a treat; with Thiago Motta suspended, he moved Javier Zanetti into midfield, slotting the more mobile Christian Chivu into the left-back position to deal with Arjen Robben. Although Robben, not surprisingly, got the better of Chivu at times, the Romanian proved enough of an impediment to prevent the game becoming another Robben Show.
Instead, it became the Milito Show, and there could hardly be a more deserving man-of-the-match than the veteran Argentinian.
The former Racing Club, Real Zaragoza and Genoa forward has taken a long time to scale the summit of European football, but what club wouldn't want him now? Strong, adept on the ball and an excellent finisher, he is perhaps the most in-form striker going into a World Cup which is a little short of star power in the forward lines. A shame, then, that Milito will be fighting with the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain for a starting place. A pleasant dilemma for Diego Maradona, at any rate.
Not only did Milito score Inter's two goals, but he set up three good chances during the game, two for Goran Pandev and one for Wesley Sneijder, who once again proved himself a very fine No.10, a real Sandro Mazzola for the new millennium.
If Milito's finish for the first goal was classy, his second was an absolute jewel, the best goal in a European Cup final since Zinedine Zidane's stunning volley in 2002. The feint that fooled Daniel van Buyten was performed exquisitely; Milito looked up at the key moment, and appeared to be measuring up a pass to connect with Samuel Eto'o's clever run in the inside-right channel. Just at the moment when one expected the killer ball, instead there came a perfectly-timed flick to the left, and van Buyten was out of the picture. The finish, reminiscent of Alex del Piero's against Germany at the last World Cup, was just as impressive.
The fact that Inter took the field without a single Italian in their line-up will no doubt excite plenty of comment, but that shouldn't detract from the team's achievement. They have been resilient, superbly organised, and lethal in the front third throughout the campaign; there just seemed to be a sense of destiny about Inter this season once they entered the knockout phase. They wouldn't let anything get in their way.
And the sight of Javier Zanetti holding up the famous trophy will bring a smile to the face of many a football fan. No-one could possibly begrudge this outstanding footballer, one of the most consistent players of the last twenty years, such a triumph as his career comes to an honourable close.
Great finishing, if only Muller was as lethal for Bayern eh?