Bayern Munich 0-2 Internazionale | Champions League final match report

Internazionale claimed the Champions League trophy with the aid of José Mourinho's managerial skills and only half the possession of Bayern Munich

There is no sense in pretending that Internazionale's superior means made this European Cup triumph inevitable. The club had fallen short in the tournament for two generations despite budgets that sometimes appeared bottomless. The riches that restored the trophy to San Siro after a 45-year pause lie, to a significant extent, in the mind of José Mourinho.

It is tiresome to turn away from the people who deal directly with the ball yet managerial influence is no myth in the case of the Portuguese. Mourinho experiences setbacks and could not get Chelsea beyond the last four of the Champions League but he has twice contradicted the trend of history. Until the glory of 2004 most people would have assumed the trophy was no longer within reach of clubs like Porto, who have a relatively small financial base.

Inter, on the other hand, were affected by the neurosis of affluence following the inability to prevail in the tournament since 1965. A lack of return on such sums had the club contorted in anxiety. It is not necessary to like Mourinho and the hostility of outsiders is essential to the melodrama of his existence, but the capacity to galvanise footballers is as great as the organisational intelligence.

His side had only a third of the possession in the final but that was as much as they wanted. A mundane Bayern were burdened by the ball. The few moments that might have bucked the trend went unexploited. With Inter a goal in front, Thomas Müller twice had opportunities to equalise but could not take them.

That may simply have been a sign of the Serie A club's superior means. Müller is a 20-year-old who was seen as a utility player until relatively recent times. There was no inclination to lambast him, just a cause to realise that Louis van Gaal's Bayern lacked the widespread quality of the victors. Indeed, the unflagging Arjen Robben was the sole concern to Inter in a display that saw the winger imbued with a single-mindedness that he has been accused of lacking.

It can take a managerial virtuoso to galvanise even men of indisputable gifts. Inter were able to buy Wesley Sneijder for around £12m in August of last year because he had become disoriented in the labyrinth of Real Madrid. "The coach [Manuel Pellegrini] said he counted on me but there are people at the club who don't," the Dutchman remarked at the time.

He came back to command the Bernabéu in Saturday's final. Ten minutes from half-time Diego Milito headed a kick-out to him and Sneijder returned the ball sharply. Although the shoddy Bayern central defence was readily confused, the Argentina international would have appeared authoritative in any setting with his firm yet floated finish.

Milito also took the other goal 20 minutes from the end. The inferior nature of Bayern in the middle of the back four was exposed once more when he manoeuvred in front of the befuddled Daniel van Buyten before planting home a shot. It might appear that the greatest venues were preordained for someone of such focus but the only European clubs the 30-year-old Milito had played for before last summer were Real Zaragoza and Genoa.

While it scarcely took a visionary to see what the striker might offer, Mourinho has been particularly astute in upgrading Inter. The manager is in love with the image of himself as the arch-manipulator, yet the vanity does not prevent him from achieving a rapport that brings out the very best in his footballers.

Mourinho, it is assumed, had no need to pack away his belongings on Saturday night because he will soon be at work there for Real Madrid. The potential for tensions and internal conflict should be gripping. His past on the backroom staff at Barcelona is the least of it. The home fans at the Bernabéu may need to reconcile themselves to an egotist who does not pay even lip service to Real's aspiration towards glittering football.

Then again they will also seethe that the La Liga title has gone to Barcelona for the last two seasons. Supporters are not besotted with Mourinho's style, in which flair is rationed, but the habit of silverware endears him to his audience. Like it or not, the Portuguese is a star who turns each little technical area into the grandest of stages.


Kevin McCarra at Santiago Bernabéu

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