For the first time ever, the Champions League Final is being held on a Saturday. The Europeans are pretty excited by that themselves, so I hesitate to mention that I think that the move was made to accommodate the growing American audience. In the past, the game was on a Wednesday evening, which was fine for all of Europe--but meant Americans were having to DVR that shit, or simply escape work awfully early. No longer--now it is a middle of the day, weekend experience (2:30 Eastern, 1:30 Central) which will work just fine for us fans.
For those not in the know, the Champions League Final is probably the biggest annual soccer game of the year, pitting the two best professional soccer teams in the world. As I've described it previously, imagine if the Super Bowl was actually a World Wide event, with Canadian teams playing American teams to determine who is the best team in the world. And then imagine a Canadian League that isn't just taking American cast-offs, but signing the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Ray Rice and Aaron Rodgers.
Saturday's game has a definite favorite in Inter Milan, an Italian League (or Serie A) team led by a brilliant, yet pain in the ass coach, totally stacked with talent, and a commitment to defense that sometimes looks like it is a bunch of Agent Smiths from The Matrix--they flow and commit as one to a scary degree. The underdog is Bayern Munich, from the Bundesliga, despite the fact that they have beaten some top-flight talent to get to this final. They would be the first to admit that it took some miracle goals to get to this point. In getting ready for this game, I'm sure they are telling themselves, "It only takes one goal to change the match." And they are right on that.
There will be a lot of quality on display on both sides--players to watch include Milito, Robben, Eto'o, Lahm, Van Bommel, Klose, Super Mario Gomez, Lucio, Maicon, Wesley Sneijder, Marco Balotelli (a dangerous substitution, if ever there was one), and lots of others who will be representing their nations come World Cup in a month. These are some stacked, stacked teams.
Here are Arjen Robben's thoughts on his teammates. Here are old man Zanetti's thoughts on his Inter Milan mates.
Prediction: Inter Milan 2, Bayern Munich 1, or 3.