Tonight (this afternoon in North America) is the final of the Champions League. The match between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan will take place in Madrid. Bayern beat Lyon in the semifinals; Inter knocked off Barcelona. It is somewhat surprising to have clubs from Germany and Italy in the final, as the English Premier League and La Liga, the top Spanish league, are considered to be stronger leagues than the Bundesliga and Serie A. The top English clubs were eliminated in the Round of 16 along with La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid. For those who don’t follow football, the Champions League is an annual pan-European club competition. The Champions League final is roughly comparable to the Super Bowl in terms of interest and prestige. It will draw a huge television audience and the winner will get $150 million.
The winner of the match will pull off a rare “triple”: it will simultaneously hold the championship of its domestic league, the championship of its domestic cup competition, and the championship of the Champions League. Unlike in North America, European club teams compete in multiple contests at the same time. For example, a top EPL club like Chelsea could be simultaneously competing in the Premier League, the Football Association Cup, a single-elimination or “knockout” competition open to every club in the Football Association in England, and in the Champions League.
The betting odds currently favor Inter Milan slightly. The implied win probabilities from the odds on the match at Bet365 are roughly Milan 40% to win, Bayern 30% to win, and a 30% probability of a draw in regular time. In addition to the cash and prestige, the team that wins the final will earn an additional berth for a team from that country in the 2011-2012 Champions league.