LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena will have more than a passing interest in Saturday's UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in Madrid, Spain. In fact, he'll be there in person.
Arena will fly almost 5,000 miles to Madrid on Friday morning from Dallas to Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, where the game will be played. He will serve as a FOX Sports analyst in the pre- and post-game shows and will offer his commentary at halftime of the match. Arena will be joined by host Curt Menefee and fellow analyst Eric Wynalda.
"I'm looking forward to it," Arena said this week as his team prepared for Thursday's game in Frisco, Texas against FC Dallas. "It will be a terrific game between two teams with really different approaches to the game. Inter is a little more calculating to how they approach games. I think Bayern is a pretty free attacking team. It's going to be strength against strength, and in the end I think Inter may be a better team.
"Generally these games tend to be a little on the conservative side because there's so much at stake. I think everybody probably was looking for a final of Barcelona-Manchester United, but I think Bayern Munich-Inter Milan is the next best thing."
Bayern Munich, just crowned Bundesliga champion, defeated Fiorentina, Manchester United and Lyon to reach the final. Inter Milan, which had to go down to the final day of the season before edging AS Roma for the Serie A title, defeated Chelsea, CSKA Moscow and FC Barcelona.
Bayern Munich, coached by Louis Van Gaal, will be missing midfielder Franck Ribery, whose appeal of his suspension for the final after being red-carded in the previous match against Lyon was rejected by Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Last year's final between Barcelona and Manchester United, won by Barcelona 2-0, was watched by more than 100 million viewers around the world.
Saturday's match will be the second final Arena has seen in person.
He also was in attendance in 1999 when Manchester United scored two goals in injury time to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Barcelona. That game was the finale to Manchester United's historic "triple," which also included winning the English Premier League title and FA Cup that year.
Barcelona fashioned its own triple a year ago, having already won a La Liga title and the Copa del Rey.
Arena said it will be unusual being a member of the media for a day.
"It's always interesting when you're a coach, you sometimes don't appreciate the issues involved in reporting a story," he said. "The print media is certainly different than broadcasting. In broadcasting you don't get a chance to correct your mistakes. In the print media you can go with the spell-check or cut and delete on your computer.
"You don't get that chance in front of a live camera. That's certainly challenging."
Arena clearly relishes the opportunity to see two of the world's biggest and best clubs perform in person.
"It's always nice to see the top teams in the world," he said.
"Obviously it's something we aspire to be one day in this league ...to have clubs that are competitive with the top teams in the world.
"In my view, it will be fun to see where we stand with that level of competition, which I'm well aware we're not competitive at that level. It's great; I wish I could be a fan for this game."