The MSR advent calendar: Our favorite signings that never happened: Door 3 – Filippo Inzaghi
With coach Felix Magath at the helm, the holders of the domestic double moved to the Allianz Arena at the start of the season. They would go on to defend both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal title that season, which was somewhat of a sensation at the time: for the first time ever a German team was able to defend the domestic double. However, their Champions League campaign was again a disappointment: After a lackluster 1-1 draw in the first leg of the round of sixteen against AC Milan, Bayern lost the return leg resoundingly 4-1. The match winner for the Italians with two goals was Filippo Inzaghi.
Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge were annoyed and frustrated that FC Bayern did not manage to leave a mark in Europe yet again, despite the signing of Roy Makaay three years earlier.
There was a growing sense that the squad in the Champions League lacked the final punch, the cold-bloodedness to win close games. The departure of Michael Ballack was compensated for before the 2006/07 season with the signing of Mark van Bommel. He became the new leader of the team. In addition, Roy Makaay was signed as another goal scorer. Thoughts about a transfer of Lukas Podolski were quickly set aside, as the Cologne native was not trusted to be able to make the difference in crucial Champions League games. When the Bavarians learned from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s good contacts in Milan that Filippo Inzaghi was available and ready for a transfer, everyone in the club was electrified.
At the time, Filippo Inzaghi was one of the best Italian strikers. A nightmare for any opponent’s defence, since, as Sir Alex Ferguson once said, he was “born offside”. A typical game with Inzaghi always plays out with him being barely visible, constantly lurking at and around the penalty area, then explosively running in behind with perfect timing from his place practically straight on the offside line, and often putting the ball in the back of the net with first time shots or poaching volleys. His goalscoring ability was outstanding, his poacher’s instinct hardly defendable. He always managed to take advantage of the slightest inattention in the opposing defensive line.
After the 2005/06 season finished without a title for AC Milan, Filippo Inzaghi was dissatisfied with his standing in the team. In the Serie A, young striker Alberto Gilardino was increasingly preferred to him. The opportunity to sign him was good, but the player expensive. In my hypothetical dream scenario, Bayern take the risk and sign Filippo Inzaghi for a record €28m. A definite coup for the Bayern team – and a familiar move: Uli Hoeneß once again signs a player who previously did harm to FC Bayern.
After a bumpy start to the 2006/07 season, culminating in the dismissal of Felix Magath, Ottmar Hitzfeld, the CL winning coach of 2001, takes over at FC Bayern again. Hitzfeld immediately builds a strong rapport with Inzaghi, giving the Italian striker a lot of rope. And Inzaghi repays the trust placed in him in the Champions League: in the quarter-finals of the 2006/07 CL, Bayern once again clashes with AC Milan. After a decent 2-2 first leg in Italy, with 2 late goals by Daniel van Buyten, the chances to reach the semis in the second leg are decent: In the second leg, Milan take the lead through Seedorf, which Inzaghi, of all people, makes up shortly afterwards. As the side from Milan are increasingly pushing for the 2-1 win as the end of the game draws closer, a long ball from van Bommel reaches the Italian. From an offside position he scores the 2-1 and thus catapults the Hitzfeld team into the semi-finals. There they meet Manchester United once again. After a 3-2 defeat in the first leg, Bayern then secure their progress in the second leg in Munich with a narrow but well-deserved 1-0 victory; the goal this time is scored by Roy Makaay. Six years after their triumph in Milan, Bayern are back in the Champions League final. Not least thanks to Filippo Inzaghi, the former FC Bayern bogey striker. In the final in Athens they would meet Liverpool FC. The rest is history …