Bernabeu plays host to Bundesliga and Serie A title winners.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho says the Champions League is a bigger competition than the World Cup.
His team play Bayern Munich in the final at Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday, and the celebrated Portuguese coach is clear about the game’s status.
“This game is the most important in the world,” said 47-year-old Mourinho.
“It is even bigger than the World Cup because the teams in it are at a higher level than national teams, who can’t buy the best players.”
Mourinho has led Inter to their first European Cup final since 1972, when they lost to Netherlands club Ajax. It is even longer since Inter last held the cup, in 1965.
After being eliminated in the first knockout round in the previous two seasons, Inter ousted this year’s Premier League winners Chelsea, CSKA Moscow and finally defending champions Barcelona to reach Saturday’s final.
Barcelona won the second leg of the semi-final 1-0 at Camp Nou but Inter advanced to the final with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Inter were accused in some quarters of playing overly negative football in Barcelona, while others defended Mourinho’s brilliant tactics as the Catalans’ Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi was kept quiet.
Mourinho reflected: “I think that this season I haven’t seen a match like the one between Inter and Barcelona at the San Siro.
“I haven’t seen a team play the way we did. We attacked aggressively against the champions of Europe. We scored three goals against the champions of Europe.
“We won the tie in Barcelona, but everyone talks about Barcelona winning and says we parked the bus in front of the goal. We didn’t park the bus, we parked the airplane and we did it for two reasons.
“One, because we only had 10 men and two, because we beat them 3-1 at San Siro, not by parking the bus, or the boat or the airplane, but by smashing them at the San Siro.”
Both Inter and Munich will be missing important players in the first Champions League final to be held on a Saturday as each club chases unique “trebles”, having won domestic league and cup doubles.
Inter are without midfielder Thiago Motta, while Munich will line up without winger Franck Ribery. Both men were sent off in the semi-finals and as a result are suspended. (BBC Sport)
Whilst it may not be the Champions League final many had hoped for it is nonetheless true that the meeting of Inter Milan and Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu will see two of Europe’s in form teams go head to head. These two evenly matched teams have fought through some very tough encounters to get to the final and its fair to say that Saturday’s final promises to be a very tight, but potentially very exciting tie.
A year ago the idea of Bayern without Franck Ribery in the starting eleven would have left many wondering just how the Germans would cope but this season with rejuvenated Dutch winger Arjen Robben on board Louis Van Gaal should be able to deal just fine without the mercurial Frenchman. As an attacking force the Bundesliga side will take some stopping. With the likes of Thomas Muller, Ivica Olic, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez pushing forward Mourinho’s back line will have to be as solid as ever to keep a clean sheet.
Clearly however Inter Milan have more than a few options of their own to unlock the Munich defence. Strike pairing Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito are arguably one of the most deadly duos in European football and have managed 44 goals between them this season.
The San Siro outfit also have a former Real Madrid bench warmer well on the way back to firing on all cylinders. Wesley Sneijder, like Robben, has found a new lease of life away from the Bernabeu and both former Real Madrid men will greatly like to prove what they are capable of in the stadium where they both saw their careers stutter.
Here are some highlights of previous encounters between the two teams to get you well and truly in the mood.
Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich September 2006
Bayern Munich 1-1 Inter Milan December 2006