German side Shalke 04 recovered from being a goal down in the 1st minute to pull off an impressive 5-2 win at reigning chamions Inter Milan last night. The italians started the game as strong favourites and even though Matip equalised for the German side on 17 minutes it looked like normal service would be resumed when the Argentinian international Milito restored inters advantage.
However Shalke were level again before the break, and then a 3 goal blast in the second half silenced the Italian contingent of the 75,000 crowd, and left them with one foot in the semi finals.
Inter Milan will now effectively need to win by 4 clear goals to turn this one around, and although they showed great battling qualities against Bayern Munich in the last round it is almost impossible to see them advance from here.
The Champions League Semi Final draw has paired Britains best hopes Chelsea & Manchester United guaranteeing an English presence in the last 4, but probably dashing any hope of an al English final. The final 8 are comprised of 3 English Clubs, 2 Spanish, and one each from Italy, Germany and the Ukraine.
Looking at the ties objectively we expect the final four to comnprise Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid & Chelsea, although with teams of this quality anything can happen and some exciting football looks instore.
Inter Milan v Schalke 04
Real Madrid v Tottenham
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea v Man Utd
Despite a comfortable 3-0 win over TP Mazembe in the Final of the World Club Cup Inter Milan Boss Rafael Benitez has paid the price for their poor league form. His sacking 6 months into the job is not a major surprise, however it is disapointing to see football taking on such a short term attitude. Someone should remind the powers that be as these clubs just how long it took Sir Alex Fergusson to turn around Manchester United.
A tremendous performance by Gareth Bale inspired Spurs to a monumental 3-1 win over defending champions Inter Milan last night and moved them to within touching distance of a place in the last 16. Now a win at home to Werder Bremen on 24th November will secure them a place as they are ahead of FC Twente on group results. Gareth Bale was outstanding again and a repeat of last nights display will be sufficient to secure the dream.
In the other games involving British clubs Manchester United had an easy win in Turkey against Bursapour while Rangers were well beaten in Valencia. Now Rangers will need a miracle to qualify although a place in the Europa league looks probable thanks to United’s win.
Manchester United travel to Turkey tonight to face Bursaspor knowing a win will practically guarantee them a place in the last 16, however despite the Turks poor showing this is not a given and expect Alex Ferguson to put out a strong side. Man Utd should scrape this one.
Rangers will probably play for a draw in Valencia and this is a tactic which has backfired on Scottish clubs a lot this year. A win for Man Utd tonight coupled with a draw for Rangers would just about guarantee Rangers a Europa League place at least but they will do well to get a draw here.
Tottenham were totally outclassed for 45 minutes against Inter but showed a lot of spirit to come away with a credible 4-3 defeat. Now with the backing of their home fans they can take a massive step towards the last 16 with a win against the reigning champions. Spurs are playing quite well and they can win this one.
So overall despite the ties looking hard we expect a win for Spurs & United and a disapointing narrow loss for Rangers.
Tottenham despite being down to 10 men almost staged one of the most amazing comebacks in recent Champions League history when battling back from 4-0 down to 4-3 against last seasons Champions and Treble winners Inter Milan.
Things didn’t start well for Spurs with Inter taking the lead in the second minute through Zanetti and while they were still reeling from the shock things got worse when Gomez collected a red card for a clumsy challenge which led to Inter going 2-0 up with the resulting penalty.
Thereafter the 1st half was largely one way traffic and it was not a great surprise when Inter stretched their lead to 4-0 by half time. Their dominance was emphasised during the break with Bet365 offering 12-1 for it being 7-0 in their customary TV advertising. With Inter leading the attempts at goal tally 12 to 1 it probably attracted a few bets.
However after the break Inter seemed content to sit on their lead and even when Gareth Bale pulled it back to 4-1 with a jinking run it failed to stir them.
The main drama was reserved for the final 2 minutes when Bale hit two more in injury time, completing his hat trick and adding a veneer of respectability to the result which probably wasn’t warranted.
It is hard to decipher where Spurs are in the football hierarchy on this display however Harry Redknapp will struggle to keep Gareth bale if he continues to play like this and his comments that Spurs are only 2 world class players away from winning the Premier League do look a bit tongue in cheek after watching this.
One thing is for sure though – the return match at White Hart Lane will be a sell out.
Inter Milan eased past German side Werder Bremen thanks to some clinical finishing by Samuel Eto’o who grabbed a hat trick in their 4-0 win. Werder were missing three of their most influential players – Claudio Pizarro, Clemens Fritz and Torsten Frings and it showed as they found themselves 3-0 down after only 34 minutes as Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder grabbed the goals.
To their credit the Germans tried to make a game of it and although never looking likely to get back into it, they did create a few half chances. Once they are back to full strength they could still make a challenge for qualification, however by then it might be too late.
In what looks like Jose Mourinho last game in charge of Inter Milan the Italian champions completed a unique treble, becoming the only Italian club to win the domestic league & cup double and the Champions league in the same season.
The final was more intriguing than exciting and was a complete contrast of styles as Bayern Munich tried to dominate the game, while Inter were happy to soak up the pressure and look to hit them on the break. Still especially in the first 15 minutes it looked like Bayern’s tactics could work as the played some nice expansive football and created a few half chances. They also looked to have an extra advantage when referee Howard Webb wrongly booked Chivu after a theatrical Robben dive meaning he had to tread carefully for the rest of the game. However on 34 minutes Inter struck with a well taken Milito goal. This forced Bayern to take even more chances going forward and in the 70th minute Milito struck again to all but kill off the game. This was a goal of real class and he made Mark van Buyten look flat footed as he went round him in the box to slam the ball home. Bayern continued to push forward but rarely looked like getting back into the game and despite having more possession, corners and shots at goal, only the most partisan of fans would have argued about the result.
In injury time Inter brought on Materazz meaning that the game finished with one Italian on the field for Inter who have dominated this year win a team largely composed of overseas players, A fact that probably doesn’t bode too well for Italy’s chances in the World Cup this year.
Tonight’s Champions league final between Bayern Munich & Inter Milan is set to attract a massive world wide TV audience, and will mark Bayern’s 8th appearance in the final (including its previous guises) making them the 3rd most successful club in the competition in terms of appearances. It will also be the first final in six seasons which has not included an English Premier League Team with you having to go back to the 2004 final for the last time they failed to provide at least a finalist. The good news is that it should be an entertaining final and at least here in the UK football fans can sit back as neutrals and enjoy the spectacle.
So who is going to win?
After a 38 year wait Inter Milan fans will get the chance to cheer their team in the European Champions league this year following a stout defensive performance in their 1-0 defeat in Barcelona last night.
Inter Milan leading 3-1 from the 1st leg came to defend adding defender Christian Chivu to the line-up minutes before kick-off and after they were reduced to 10 men in the 1st half it was largely one way traffic towards their goal.
Despite their overwhelming possession Barcelona rarely looked likely to get back into the game and their only goal came after the moved central defender Pique into an attacking role, where he showed great composure when grabbing his goal, which probably should have been chalked off for offside.
A few minutes latter things though things evened themselves out as Bojan’s potentially winning goal was ruled out for a harsh hand ball decision. Overall Inter Milan deserved their bit of luck given the sending off looked harsh and despite having no shots at goal in the game and very little possession few outside of Spain will begrudge Inter their first Champions league final since losing to Ajax in the 1972 final.
Inter Milan will now face Bayern Munich in the Final where Jose Mourinho will attempt to win the competition with a second club having guided Porto to victory in 2004. A victory for Inter will be their first since 1965 when they won the trophy for the second year running.