Georgina Turner
Friday May 21st, 2010

Nearly 11 months of competition have come to this, a Champions League final to be duked out in king of rings, the Santiago Bernabeu. In the blue corner, the lip-curled sneer of Jose Mourinho, who actually seems to be enjoying his success at Internazionale -- this is a league and cup double-winning season -- about as much as a punch in the face. In the red corner, Louis van Gaal, whose Bayern Munich side thrashed Werder Bremen 4-0 to claim its own double last weekend.

The inevitable pre-match war of words had van Gaal insisting that "[Mourinho] trains to win. I train to play beautiful football and win," and he was backed by his (and Mourinho's former Chelsea-) winger, Arjen Robben. "The final is a match between a team who wants to play football and a team who just wants to stop football."

"Football is about balance," Mourinho scoffed in reply, quite possibly casting meaningful glares at Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o, whom he will be relying upon to create goals to win the trophy, stick it to the doubters and probably earn him his next job at Real Madrid.

Frankly, I can't wait to see how this all ends, and you can follow the game with me, live, from 2.30 p.m. ET. I'll be entertaining your thoughts, football-related or not, via georgina.turner.si@gmail.com throughout -- what have you got to do on a Saturday afternoon that's better than being published on SI.com?

Mourinho has opted for Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso as his two holding midfielders with Cristian Chivu, coming in at left back.

Bayern's team is as expected with Hamit Altintop replacing the suspended Franck Ribery in midfield and Ivica Olic and Thomas Mueller playing upfront.

Holger Badstuber was named left back.

Bayern Munich: 22 -- Hans-Joerg Butt; 21 -- Philipp Lahm, 5 -- Daniel van Buyten, 6 -- Martin Demichelis, 28 -- Holger Badstuber; 10 -- Arjen Robben, 17 -- Mark van Bommel, 31 -- Bastian Schweinsteiger, 8 -- Hamit Altintop; 11 -- Ivica Olic, 25 -- Thomas Mueller.

Inter Milan: 12 -- Julio Cesar; 13 -- Maicon, 25 -- Walter Samuel, 6 -- Lucio, 26 --Cristian Chivu; 4 -- Javier Zanetti, 19 -- Esteban Cambiasso, 10 -- Wesley Sneijder; 9 -- Samuel Eto'o, 22 -- Diego Milito, 27 -- Goran Pandev

Referee: Howard Webb (England)

OK, let's not trundle along on the bandwagon, merrily making out that this match is all about Mourinho and van Gaal; there is the small matter of the 22+ men who've got at least 90 minutes of football to play. Bayern and Inter have had eerily similar domestic seasons -- identical goal difference (41), both have won about 60 percent of their matches and more than half of them have been by at least two goals, and they've both claimed a league and cup double.

However, you'd have to say that Inter are the better team, and its path here, littered with the corpses of Chelsea and Barcelona, was a harder trek than Bayern's -- and even then the Germans needed away goals twice. Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Robben and Olic will need to be at their very best if they're to tip the game in Bayern's favor, but that's by no means impossible, even if it seems less likely than Sneijder and Co. turning it on. I'd be surprised (and disappointed, frankly) if Bayern didn't keep it interesting for at least the first hour. And in other news, when did the Champions League final get such a fancy build-up? I think they've nicked an Olympic opening ceremony from somewhere.

The dancing women have stopped now, though they're still loitering in the back of the picture. The teams are out and tapping their toes to the Champions League theme.

I'm just penning an introductory paragraph or two, but I'm slightly distracted by an elaborate pre-match ceremony involving women in black. Bear with me.

That's all from me for now, have a good evening.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.