Paul Parker

Inter to win bore final

Paul Parker

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UEFA might have moved the Champions League to a Saturday to boost TV ratings, but I don't think Bayern versus Inter Milan is a match to make many people in this country change their Saturday night plans.

The simple fact is that neither side is particularly entertaining to watch, and it feels like a bit of an empty occasion without Barcelona who are undoubtedly the most entertaining side around.

That is not to say Inter do not deserve to be there. They do. Even though they hardly touched the ball in the second leg of their semi-final at the Camp Nou, they did enough and deserve credit for the way they defended.

It was a classic Jose Mourinho performance, but they needed outstanding individual performances from the likes of Lucio, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti to come through.

I think we can expect more of the same from Inter. As always with Mourinho sides, if they get their noses in front they will be hard to peg back. His rule of thumb is that there is no point winning 4-1 when 1-0 is good enough, and they will focus all their efforts on protecting the lead if they get it.

Like Inter, Bayern have already won a domestic double, and although they needed away goals to get past Fiorentina and Manchester United they also merit their place in the final.

They might have got a bit lucky at times, but few sides win the Champions League without having the rub of the green. Bayern know this all to well themselves having outplayed United and somehow lost in 1999.

These two teams have both won the European Cup on multiple occasions, but in a way it feels like they are novices when it comes to finals.

Bayern are a completely different side from the one that won the 2001 Champions League, while it is four decades since Inter were champions of the continent.

We cannot say yet whether their presence in the final represents a resurgence for two leagues that have declined in influence over the last 15 years - when Porto played Monaco in 2004 it did not herald a transformation in the Portuguese and French leagues' fortunes.

But it would be nice to have strong contenders every year from across the continent, particularly the Bundesliga which embodies so many positive qualities.

Ticket prices are cheap, stadiums are full, and you can stand on a terrace drinking a beer without compromising safety. And their strict rules about ownership mean the clubs are much closer to the fans than in the Premier League which is dominated by foreign oligarchs.

As for a prediction, I just suspect Mourinho will do it again. Love him or hate him, he knows how to win football matches, especially when they are tight and tense like this one will be.

Having silenced Lionel Messi in the semi-finals, they will try a similar job on Bayern's star man Arjen Robben, who played under Mourinho at Chelsea.

If Robben cannot sparkle, and with Franck Ribery suspended, it is hard to see Bayern cracking that solid inter rearguard.

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