A battle between two of the best defensive teams in recent memory, who won their league and reached the final of Europe’s biggest club competition with two managers who get absolutely everything from their team.
When Jose Mourinho took over at Inter Milan, few could see that within three years they would be reigning Italian and European champions in the same season. His side won the treble in his final year at the club, with Diego Milito leading the line alongside Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings from midfield.
In Spain just a few years later, Diego Simeone’s side pipped Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the La Liga title with a masterful display of soaking up pressure and pouncing to win games without the ball. They won 12 of their 28 victories by the odd goal, showing how comfortable and confident they were when defending a lead.
Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, based on solid defensive structure with brilliance from individuals in attack. Lucio was one of the best defenders in the world at this point, while Julio Cesar, Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti all used their experience to get the absolute most from themselves in this campaign. At right-back, Maicon was explosive and powerful and scored 7 goals in all competitions that season. His overlapping runs allowed Samuel Eto’o to move a bit more in-field to a more natural central position however he was predominantly placed on the right-wing for his work ethic and stamina.
Wesley Sneijder was given a free role in the No.10 position and delivered an outstanding season that put him in contention for the Ballon D’Or. Diego Milito also had the best season of his career during this year, as he scored 28 goals including both in the Champions League final.
At Atletico, Simeone’s team focused completely on not conceding chances and scoring goals on the counter. This setup helped Diego Costa to the greatest season of his career, as he scored 36 goals in all competitions. The defensive structure in place by Gabi, Koke and the back four allowed Raul Garcia to push forward from central midfield and get 15 goals himself too.
In a game against each other though, this could be one of the most intense tactical battles we’ve seen. Both sides would likely set up to ensure they don’t lose which could lead to a cagey affair where very little risks are taken.
Atletico Madrid will undoubtedly drop deep into two blocks of four, while Inter will try to get the ball to Wesley Sneijder as much as possible to unlock those doors. I think the main man for Inter in this game though could be Samuel Eto’o.
The Cameroon forward had an insatiable eye for goal during his time at Barcelona and scored seven goals with four assists in his 12 games against Atletico. With Maicon bombing forward to help Inter’s attack, Eto’o would become an extra body in the attack and be able to create space for himself or Milito to pounce. My pick for this would be an Inter Milan 1-0 win, with prime Jose Mourinho taking the spoils.
Do you agree with the teams picked? Do you agree with the end result? Let me know.