Only with Real Madrid could this happen. The merengues shadow has cast darkness on this Champion’s League final, and not just because of the Bernabeu. True, Robben and Wesley were cast off this past summer in haste, making way for the trophy less cache of big name signings. And yes, we could reflect on the pupil-master dynamics of Mourinho and Van Gaal.
We could resurrect the Mourinho as “dark lord,” a tactician who will win at all costs. But that leads to the next question – where will Mourinho be next summer?
If Perez signed Kaka & Ronaldo in part because their namesake sold jerseys, then what attire would Mourinho promote upon arrival? A dark and long coat? A Russian journalist offered Jose a crown, but the Portuguese astutely refused the obvious photo shoot setup. Still, how would the sly and sarcastic boy from Iberia fare in Madrid?
Well, the negative tactics…the negative tactics just do not fly in Spain. While the Italian media may dissect his every substitution and grant a standing ovation to a 1-0 victory, the cerebral fades into the aesthetic exterior in Spain. To win in Madrid is not enough – just ask Del Bosque and Fabio Capello.
Pellegrini led Madrid to a record breaking season in La Liga. Still, in a sense, his positive football undid the blanquillos in the Champions League. A compact and counterattacking Lyon took advantage of the galloping fullbacks, nicking a counter and then absorbing pressure. The Pellegrini approach can be described as Sven-lite: calm, composed, and always in control. At least of himself.
How would the Madrid press react to a 1-0 loss in the Camp Nou when Barcelona had over 70% of possession? Would Marca and AS take kindly to parking an airplane in front of Casillas? Mourinho’s defensiveness in press conferences belies his disdain for positive futbol purists. But can his ethos of “success at any cost” coexist on the same plan as Perez’s flashy “high costs equal success”?
And then there is the game, of course. Many Azulgrana faithful and PSV fans will recall Mark Van Bommel. The Dutchman is capable of a brilliant through ball spells of sharp possession, and totally disappearing for spells. Schweinsteger, to his credit, has adapted well to playing centrally. But can these two go toe-to-toe with Real rejects Cambiasso and Scheijder?
Robben, of course, has shown why he holds the label as World’s Best Player Made of Paper – when the injections reduce the swelling in his tendinitis ravaged knees, the Dutchman is unstoppable. But if Maicon diligently marked the elusive Messi, one has to wonder if Robben’s bags of tricks can fool the Brazilian.
So as you watch the game and count the players sold by Real Madrid at bargain prices, as you sweat alongside Pellegrini while Mourinho works his magic, just remember…the two teams playing one another are Bayern Munich and Inter. The merengues will have to wait another year.