Champions League recap & 2 more weeks to South Africa 2010

The Champions League final is in the record books, and Inter Milan are deserved champions of European club football. Milan won by doing two things exceptionally well; controlling the ball in their half of the field defensively and playing picture perfect, textbook, counter-attacking football.

The first goal was a thing of beauty; the ball was touched four times when it went into play. The goalkeeper Julio Cesar played it forward, Diego Milito headed it on to Wesley Sneijder who controlled and passed perfectly to a cutting Milito who touched it once before putting a high hard shot past the Bayern goalie. End to end in 10 seconds. Call it give and go, fast break, whatever you want; it was a sequence of lightning precision that left Bayern stunned.

Within the first minute of the second half Bayern’s Mueller had probably their best chance, but his shot went straight at Cesar. The urgency of Bayern’s attack to begin the second half appeared to catch Milan by surprise, but twice Bayern failed to capitalize on that-first on the shot attempt and then when Maicon whiffed on clearing a cross, but no one was there to put it in the net.

All in all, Inter Milan is a worthy champion. They dispatched Chelsea, CSKA Moscow, Barcelona and finally Bayern Munich to lift the trophy. Chelsea and Barcelona are widely considered two of the top five clubs in all of football, along with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester United. The talent of Inter, and their record over the last five years (5 domestic titles in a row, all 3 trophies they competed for this season) should certainly make them a worthy member of that group, and don’t be surprised if they are challenging for another Champions League title next year, even without Mourinho’s guidance.

Jose Mourinho, on his way to take over at Real Madrid in Spain, has shown once again why he is on a level with the great coaches in not just football, but all of sport-Phil Jackson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pete Carroll, Dean Smith et al.The one thing all of the great coaches know how to do exceptionally well in this age of multimillion dollar athletes with accompanying entourages is harnessing the egos to accomplish the team goals. Mourinho’s true test of greatness will be the collection of ill-matched superstars in Madrid. I predict that when Mourinho comes aboard, some of the current players will be gone before the year end. My money is on Kaka being one of them.

I had mentioned Diego Milito (below) in my last post as one to watch in the upcoming World Cup; I think the world knows who he is right now, no? A great performance in the Champions League finals by a great player, but will Maradona utilize him in South Africa? If it’s one thing Argentina has its quality strikers.

Cesc Fabregas, the best player on Arsenal’s roster, has indicated he wants to return to the club of his youth, Barcelona. As good a player as he is, he will most likely go to Barca and rot on the bench much like his former teammate Thierry Henry has done after making the same move…Cesc, stay in London, your career will be the better for it.
I’ve been saying for a little while that I think the US will advance to the round of 16 in the World Cup. Well, yesterday they got beat 4-2 by the Czech Republic and today they announced their squad for the Cup.
I’m still standing behind my prediction; this US team is probably the best one i’ve ever seen, with some good young players, some veterans who are coming into their own and one kid who I think is the best American player i’ve seen in a long time-Clint Dempsey. Watch the video of his goal against Juventus in the Europa league game for Fulham.

Another player to watch on this team will be Edson Buddle (R.) Yes he is OJD (of Jamaican descent) so I might be a little biased, but the guy can play and I think he will play a big role for this team. I don’t think the US will beat England in their first match, but I see them earning a draw and pulling an upset (or two) in this tournament.