Champions League Final
11.45 a.m. PST, ESPN2
What a difference a year makes. Last year was dubbed "The People's Final", as two generally well liked teams known for playing stylish, attacking, Joga Bonito football, Arsenal and Barcelona, battled for the trophy with the big ears. A year later and for many fans this is bit like a political election, where they are choosing who to root for based on which team they dislike less. At least it's not as bad a last weekend's FA Cup final, which was contested by the two most hated clubs in England, and hell, probably the world.
The fact that Milan are even in the competition, let alone here in the final, is a major problem for many, myself included, which would make me want Liverpool to win, since way back in the quarterfinals I noted that while I was basically neutral about them I disliked the other 7 teams with varying levels of intensity. The trick is that Milan, when on song, play much prettier football than do Liverpool, and in Kaka they have one of the top 5 players in the world who also is very hard not to like and pull for. So it's a bit tricky.
So on general principle I suppose I want Liverpool to win their 6th European Cup and prevent Milan from winning their 7th. So there it is: "Come on you thieving scousers, beat those cheating Italians!"
My prediction, however, is different. I'm thinking 2-0 to Mee-lan will be the result.
The focus of most will be on each team's best player, Liverpool's Gerrard and Milan's Kaka, and their ability to assert their will and boss the game. I think that the game will be won or lost in central midfield, specifically who will win the battle between Milan's Gattuso/Pirlo, and whomever Liverpool goes with from Gerrard/Alonso/Sissoko/Mascherano. Gerrard will probably be deployed wide right, a position he really dislikes and rarely bosses matches from, so it should be very interesting. Note also that both goalkeepers are very good but also prone to blunders...
Whatever happens, I just hope that the match is entertaining for us neutrals, unlike the horrid display put on in the FA Cup final by Chel$ea & ManUtd.