Thursday, 20 May 2010

Louis van Gaal: The Man Who Took Bayern to the Summit of World Football

Louis van Gaal
The Man Who Took Bayern to the Summit of World Football

Saturday 22nd May, will see German side Bayern Munich play Inter Milan, in their first Champions League final for nine years. In 2001, they faced and beat Spanish side Valencia 5-4 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 in normal time. It was heartbreak for the Spanish side, losing their second final in the world’s biggest club competition for the second successive year.

On that day in 2001, Bayern Munich’s team boasted the likes of Elber, Willy Sagnol, Bixente Lizarazu and German superstars Oliver Kahn, Stefan Effenberg and Mehmet Scholl. Great names, greater players, who epitomized the fundamentals of German dominance, a winning machine, comparable today with the likes of Chelsea and Inter Milan, but it was this side in particular making viewers look on in envy as they collected their fourth Champions League title subsequently banishing the painful memory and overcoming that infamous 2-1 defeat to Man United two years earlier. Nine years on, the German side go into this final as unexpected underdogs, as they were completely overlooked after the quarterfinal draw was made; a distinct lack of respect was shown from certain members of the football community who flocked to betting shops to put their money on a Manchester United v Barcelona rematch.

Now they will line up on the home ground of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, against one of the most in demand managers in the world right now; Jose Mourinho, and his Inter Milan side. A game made even more intriguing considering how Inter have grinded their way to the final, which included playing in a freezing cold Moscow, beating world champions FC Barcelona over two legs (while keeping Lionel “4 goals” Messi anonymous for the most part!) and of course Mourinho comfortably beating his former “boys” Chelsea. Inter dominated and impressed on route to the final, where as Bayern made it in somewhat controversial circumstances. A winner against Fiorentina, that was clearly offside, a lucky win over 10 man Manchester United before finally impressing against Lyon in the Semi-final.

The man, who has taken FC Bayern to the final, is Louis van Gaal. The 59 year old is a Dutch master tactician, and has only ever manager 4 club sides (Ajax, FC Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and now Bayern) and 1 international side (Netherlands) but has undeniable pedigree and is one of the best managers in history. The 59 year old's CV is as follows:

3 Eredivise Titles 92/93, 93/94, 95/96
3 Dutch Super Cups 92/93, 93/94, 94/95
1 Dutch League Cup 92/93
1 UEFA Cup 91/92
1 Champions League 94/95
1 UEFA Super Cup 95
1 Intercontinental Cup 95

FC Barcelona:
2 La Liga Titles 97/98, 98/99
1 Copa Del Rey 97/98
1 UEFA Super Cup 97

AZ Alkmaar
1 Eredivisie 08/09

FC Bayern Munich
1 Bundesliga 09/10
1 German Cup 09/10
1 Champions League??

More trophies then you can shake a stick at. He took Dutch side Ajax, to world domination in the early 90’s and turned the likes of; Kluivert, Kanu, Finidi George, Rijkaard, Overmars, Edgar Davids into familiar household names, while the likes of Rivaldo, Luis Enrique, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are just some of the names he has worked with. Now the great work continues as he could possibly lead Bayern to the infamous “Treble”.

Two intriguing managers, two excellent teams and an array of star players on show will undoubtedly provide the amount of entertainment that the final duly deserves. Some are already believing Inter Milan’s name to already be on the trophy, however a manager with the credentials of van Gaal cannot be taken lightly, and I fully expect an upset to be on the cards.

Viewers in the UK, can see the final live from 7pm on ITV1 or Sky Sports 1 on Saturday 22nd May.

Who Do You Think Will Come Out On Top??

Real Talk Football

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