Inter Look To Lift The Trophy on Their Ground.By: Mauro | August 18th, 2010
So this is it. The BIG match. The one we’ve been waiting for since the end of January when the first stage matches began for this edition of the Copa Libertadores.
But it feels like we’ve been here before. You see, if you’ve been following along, (ok, I know I was MIA for a long while there) in the 2008 Copa Sudamericana semifinals, Inter and Chivas met for a shot at the final match. Then Inter won the away match in Mexico 2-0, only to crush Chivas in the return leg at the Beira-Rio, 4-0 with two goals by Andrés D’Alessandro. So really, we have been here before. Inter scoring two goals on the away leg and heading home to host a very wounded (read: very dangerous) Mexican side.
Employing a 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders, two offensive wing midfielders, and one creative midfielder behind a single striker, Celso Roth has implemented a very physical, organized style of play for Inter who had trouble winning outside of the Beira-Rio under former coach Jorge Fossati.
Also, Inter have managed to build a great team around Andrés D’Alessandro, easily the team’s most important player. But it’d be easy to write him off as only being gifted with the ball at his feet when, in all honesty, it’s his vision on the pitch that makes him special. And that’s something that you’ll likely get to see plenty of, since most of Inter’s offensive plays involve him in one way or another.
If Inter have an achilles’ heel, it could be the blunders their keeper Renan has made in the semifinals and in the first leg of the final when Adolfo Bautista lobbed a header over his head, match commentators argued that he was too far off his line. But that’s about it. They are a pretty complete side with several bench players that could easily start as well.
If this team looks so good, it’s no surprise. This is Celso Roth’s 4th stint as Inter coach, so it’s something that isn’t new to him although if his side win tonight, it’ll be his first international cup/honor. And after coaching for 22 years, it’s about time.
But let’s not hand the cup over to Inter just yet. There are 90 minutes left to play and I haven’t written Chivas off completely just yet.
In the first leg of this final, they failed to find the form they found against U de Chile in the semis, yet they still they managed to score a goal (that for me came out of nowhere) in the waning minutes of the first half. We could blame the Inter keeper for being out of position or we could give props to “El Bofo” Bautista for a great header from the edge of the penalty area no less. Either way, you have to be physically gifted to put that one in the back of the net.
And while Omar Bravo is easily this tournament’s most noticeable player for Chivas, I think it’s a real team effort all around. If Inter’s best feature is that they have better technical players, than Chivas’ best feature is their team play. I said it when they played against U de Chile and I am still overwhelmed by their performance in that second leg in Santiago, Chile, they are capable of playing some really great, dominating football. And that’s why I am not ready to count these guys out. At least until the final whistle is blown.
Where do they start? They’ve got quite the task ahead of them. But it’s simple. Sort of. See, the way I see it, they lost the last match in the midfield. They need to find a way to neutralize or find a way to keep Pablo Guiñazu busy. Because it was his good work in the midfield, cutting passing lanes and not giving any Chivas players an inch in his midfield.
Also, they need to find an answer or way to keep Kleber and Nei from coming forward, all while stopping Taison, keep Alecsandro from getting any touches and correctly marking D’Alessandro, Tinga and Sandro in the midfield. You can see by the amount of names I’m highlighting this will be no small feat.
But it can be done and that’s why these matches MUST be played and all minutes accounted for. At least, that’s what Chivas players and fans are counting on.
A similar situation occurred back in the 2001 Copa Libertadores final between Cruz Azul and Boca Juniors. Cruz Azul pushed Boca to the limit forcing penalties and winning in the always formidable La Bombonera Stadium, 1-0. And this was back when Boca was at their height, with Carlos Bianchi at the helm, when they too seemed unstoppable.
My pick: Wow, (deep breath) I’m going with Inter to win the cup but the scoreline will end up 1-1. I’m expecting a good match here people. Chivas will defend their country and their club’s history with dignity and Inter will defend South America, Brazil and their club’s history with resolve and the character that defines Brazilian football.