Last May Inter-Bayern was the Champions League final and both teams were challenging for an historic treble, having both already won their domestic league and cup competitions. A Diego Milito brace gave the European crown to Inter and no one could argue that the best team won.
This time Inter-Bayern is merely a last-16 clash. Inter are third in Serie A and Bayern Munich are third in the Bundesliga. Both teams look less solid at the back and more efficient upfront than one season ago. Many similarities, but also some differences. Mainly in quality.
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A couple of days ago I heard a so-called expert saying the result of this tie will basically depend on Samuel Eto'o and Mario Gomez performances. Mario Gomez is someone who can score, sure. And this season Gomez looks again the player who used to score week in week out for Stuttgart. But he's never been the kind of player who can create goals out of nothing - if he scores it means Bayern are playing very well and it'd make a very slight difference to have him or Miroslav Klose in the poacher position. So he can score but he does not possess the talent or the personality to turn around any team's fortunes. Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben can do that, certainly not Gomez.
Samuel Eto'o is a different class of striker. No comparison. Far more skilled, versatile and proved at the very top level - he scored twice in two different Champions League finals. The Cameroon forward can invent goal opportunities for himself and for his team mates with his pressing and with his all around movement. The key area can't be Eto'o vs Gomez, otherwise there would be no match. On the contrary this is a very open tie. The key areas will be elsewhere. Maicon vs Ribery and Chivu vs Robben are tough test for all of them. But Inter fullbacks look far better equipped to handle the talents of Ribery and Robben than Bayern's centre-backs opposed to Eto'o and Sneijder.
"Inter play always the same football. Just like last season, no difference. The love to defend", said Louis Van Gaal. The Dutch coach knows very well it's not true - Leonardo shaped his Inter to play and score goals. And Inter will score. My prediction? Inter-Bayern 3-1.
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