Closer look at Inter’s second goal in the Champions League Final

Yes, Milito had a great game and yes he took the goal well but the unsung hero of the goal was the player oft-criticized as selfish and flaky: Samuel Eto’o. Have a look:

1. After Walter Samuel’s block creates a 50-50 ball in midfield, Eto’o disrupts the Bayern defender from knocking it forward when he realizes that he can’t do much else. This is crucial as it’s the difference between Inter having to clear the ball again from the top of their box and the attack they start soon after.
2. Sneidjer gets there before the other Bayern defender and wins the knockdown.
3. He immediately finds Eto’o with a pass and they are now ready to attack.
4. Eto’o plays Milito in and at this point it’s really Milito vs two defenders.
5. But because Eto’o busts a gut to join the attack after passing he pulls the supporting defender away from Milito to create a 1v1 (look at the difference between 1:07 and 1:17 on the video; if he decides to be lazy and hang back, one of the Bayern mids picks him up and frees the second centre back to go help with Milito)
6. Once Milito gets 1v1, Van Buyten cannot count on support inside because Eto’o has pulled the second centre back over. So he bites (way too easily) on Milito’s cut inside and is then beaten badly when he goes back outside. Is it a hundred stepovers a la Ronaldo? No, it’s just an inside-outside to unbalance the defender but he’s beaten so badly that Milito has the luxury of bringing the ball inside to his right foot for a better shot.

Looking at it carefully I think Milito would have had to do something very special to get that goal without Eto’o’s help. He assures his team a chance at the midfield knockdown, releases Milito to run at the defender and then races 40 yards to pull the covering defender far enough away that he can’t help Van Buyten who then obviously felt he had to over-commit on the move inside because there was no help there.

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