MILAN – “We’ve trained all season to take on this match.” That’s what was behind the final in Madrid: sacrifices, training, victories and suffering. 56 matches done, a Coppa Italia trophy won, a Scudetto title sealed and a date at the Bernabeu to complete the feat that no Italian team had ever done before.
Louis Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich were up for the fight, a dangerous team but one whose every move had been meticulously studied so that all the elements of that Champions League night would culminate in perfection. Julio Cesar was in goal, Chivu on the left of a defence that was completed by Maicon, Lucio and Samuel. The midfield axis was made up of Zanetti (on his 700th appearance for the Nerazzurri) and Cambiasso, while the trio of Pandev-Sneijder-Eto’o supported Milito up top.
Every decision is crucial, each play could be the decisive one. That’s what all the fans at the Bernabeu thought, a packed crowd who all had their gaze fixed on Sneijder’s free kick that was saved by Butt. However, fate had a plan that suited the Nerazzurri: another long punt upfield by Julio Cesar found its way to Milito, who played a one-two with Sneijder and found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Goal. Milito ran with his arms outstretched and threw himself to the floor, the Nerazzurri fans erupted. The first half closed with the same move in reverse: Milito played in Sneijder, but Butt managed to gather the ball. The Dutchman ended up as the second top scorer and provided the most assists for the Nerazzurri in that Champions League run, and four out of his six assists were to set up ‘El Principe’.
All the final’s ingredients were coming together, and after the joy at the beginning of the second half fear took over, because Bayern came out fighting and Muller forced Julio Cesar into making a save that was worth a goal, just like Butt did just minutes after to push Pandev’s shot over the bar. The contest was well and truly on. Chivu made way for Stankovic and two minutes later Milito created scenes of unbridled joy: Sneijder battled for the ball in midfield, laid it off to Eto’o, who played it to El Principe. What happened next will be engrained in history forever: the control, the skill and the ice-cold finish as he faked past Van Buyten and slotted into the bottom corner. After 45 years of waiting, the Nerazzurri were European Champions and became the first Italian team to win the triplete.
BAYERN MUNICH 0-2 INTER
Goal scorers: 35' and 70' Milito
Bayern Munich: 22 Butt; 21 Lahm, 5 Van Buyten, 6 Demichelis, 28 Badstuber; 10 Robben, 17 Van Bommel, 31 Schweinsteiger, 8 Altintop (63' Klose); 25 Muller; 11 Olic (74' Gomez)
Substitutes: 1 Rensing, 13 Goerlitz, 26 Contento, 23 Pranjic, 44 Tymoshchuk
Coach: Louis Van Gaal
Inter: 12 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu (68' Stankovic); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso; 27 Pandev (79' Muntari), 10 Sneijder, 9 Eto'o; 22 Milito (90+1' Materazzi)
Substitutes: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 17 Mariga, 45 Balotelli
Coach: José Mourinho
Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Yellow Cards: 25' Demichelis, 30' Chivu, 78' Van Bommel.
Added time: 1', 3'.