The UEFA Champions League final is almost with us. Manchester United and Chelsea do battle at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday evening. The battle between England and EuropeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top two teams is being excitedly anticipated by fans around the world.
The game which will be the two hundred and thirteenth game in this seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tournament and will take place some two hundred and ninety eight days after the first game was played, will be watched by many millions of people.
The battle for supremacy between these two clubs has been fascinating over the last four years and will no doubt continue to be so. The game at Stamford Bridge between the two sides a few weeks ago ended in a victory to Chelsea, although to no avail in the end, and a fractious and bad tempered game dubbed Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe battle of the Bridge.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
So for a short time Chelsea may have held the psychological advantage. It may be that the seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end has moved that advantage back to Old Trafford.
Manchester United, of course, are the newly crowned champions of the English Premier League for the second time in succession. Chelsea, who finished second, were the title holders for the previous two years. United have twice won the premier European title in 1968 and 1999. They are looking to complete a double this year just as they did in 1999. Chelsea have never been to the final before.
The final is only the third time in Champions League history that both teams come from the same country and this is the first time ever that they have both come from England.
The statistics tend to be just about in favour of Manchester United. They have won thirty-three major honours to ChelseaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ten and in games between the two, United have won sixty-five, Chelsea forty-one and forty-four have been drawn. However, United have won just one in the last six games against Chelsea and Chelsea have taken more premiership points from United than anyone else has.
They have never faced each other in European competition and in fact, United have never played English opposition in the Champions League. Chelsea, on the other hand, have had epic encounters with both Arsenal and Liverpool over the last three or four years.
Manchester United have won three major European trophies and Chelsea have won two. They both have a 100% record in finals so something has got to give.
In this seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s competition United are unbeaten in twelve games. Winning nine and drawing three. If they are successful in Moscow they will become the first team to win the tournament completely unbeaten on two occasions, having achieved that feat in 1999. Chelsea have lost in the tournament this season but are unbeaten in three since their only reverse at Fenerbahce in the quarter-final.
The top scorer in this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tournament so far is UnitedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cristiano Ronaldo with seven, but ChelseaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Didier Drogba is second with six. The two club captains have different milestones to reach in this game. If Ryan Giggs plays he will break Bobby CharltonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all-time Manchester United appearance record and if John Terry plays he will be playing his fiftieth Champions League game.
The two managers couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be more different. Sir Alex Ferguson, aged sixty-six has been in charge of Manchester United for nearly twenty-two years and has won twenty-eight major trophies in his career. Avram Grant, aged fifty-three, has only been the boss at Chelsea for seven months and has only ever won the Israeli league and cup.
Both teams go into the game under the glare of major media speculation. For United, the future of Cristiano Ronaldo is being questioned every day. For Chelsea, the future of their manager appears to be doubtful even if he is to lift the trophy.
So there are the runners and riders, we are just waiting for the starting flag. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect the game to be a fast free-flowing spectacle full of goals, but I do expect it to be fascinating. United have just about had the edge over Chelsea in the league this year but Chelsea have shown that they know how to beat them.
If everyone is fit the starting line-ups are likely to look something like this:
United – Van Der Saar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Hargreaves, Tevez, Rooney.
Chelsea – Cech, Essien, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole, Makelele, Lampard, Ballack, J Cole, Drogba, Malouda.
There may be a few variations as there are injury worries in both camps, particularly Chelsea. It is difficult to select a winner on the basis of a man to man contest. Terry and Carvalho or Ferdinand and Vidic? Lampard and Ballack or Scholes and Carrick? Joe Cole and Drogba or Rooney and Tevez? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll let you decide the answer to those questions.
I fully expect the game to have few goals and it could easily go to extra-time and penalties. I really hope that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen because it would be nice if one side could win fairly and squarely in normal time.
Despite being a poor tipster, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to have a go!
Chelsea 0 Manchester United 1. The goal will be scored by Carlos Tevez in the fifty-ninth minute.
What do you think? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll give a prize of an honourable mention in a future article to anyone who gets the score and scorers absolutely right.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!