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article imageChampions' League Final pits Special One against his former boss

By Vlad Bourceanu     May 22, 2010 in Sports
The Champions' League final, the last match of the most prestigious European soccer competition, will tonight pit Inter Milan against Bayern Muenchen, the prize being the coveted trophy and the bragging rights of being the best soccer team in Europe.
However, this game has, as usual, been overshadowed by hype. This year, it all seems to be about the managers of the respective teams.
In one corner, one has the hugely respected Louis Van Gaal, who has coached Ajax (winning a Champions' League title with them), Barcelona and the Dutch national team, amongst others, during what has been nothing but an extremely illustrious managerial career. This season has found him at the helm of German side Bayern Muenchen, where he has already won the German Bundesliga and German cup titles. He is now aiming for a treble by clinching the Champions' League title.
However: what Van Gaal can do, his opposite number can at least match, it seems.
Step forward the Special One.
To say that Jose Mourinho, manager of Internazionale Milano, or Inter Milan for short, is no stranger to controversy is to understate things somewhat. A winner of the Champions' League at Porto FC, he then moved to London's Chelsea FC by declaring at his first press conference as Chelsea manager: "I am not one out of a bottle. I believe I am special" a quote which, amongst others of his (the one about parking the bus springs to mind), has been immortalised in football folklore and has become synonymous with the man.
Having left Chelsea by "mutual consent" in 2007, Mourinho now finds himself in the Champions' League final for the second time of his career. More importantly, he, too, has won the Italian scudetto (title) and Italian Cup this year, matching his opposite number for tonight, Van Gaal's achievements. Whoever wins the match, therefore, will complete an extraordinary treble of trophies in the same season, and become only the third coach to have won the Champions' League with two different teams (Van Gaal having won it before with Ajax, and Mourinho with Porto FC).
Throw in the fact that, many years ago, Mourinho used to be Van Gaal's assistant at Barcelona.
Mention that the final is being played at the Estadio Bernabeu, the home of Barcelona's bitter rivals, Real Madrid.
Add that Mourinho defeated Barcelona, the club that still disparagingly calls him "The Translator", a reference to his initial duties within the club, on his way to tonight's final (not to mention winning over his former employers, Chelsea FC, too), and that Mourinho himself is strongly tipped to take over at Real Madrid itself once the season is over, and one has all the ingredients of an extraordinary match coming up.
Van Gaal himself also beat great sides such as Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United FC on his own way to tonight's final (this particular win coming courtesy of a Arjen Robben volley, a player that used to play at Chelsea FC under ... a certain Jose Mourinho ...).
The referee will be the Englishman Howard Webb, and the match itself will kick off at 19h45 British Summer Time (20h45 Central European Time).
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