Image via WikipediaManchester United V Chelsea in the Champions League Final
Is the English Premier League the best league in the world? The debate continues, and I am sure that English Premier League fans will continue to say it is, the final of the Champions League is an all Premiership event so perhaps that gives weight to the argument?
Manchester United beat Barcelona on their way to the final The first leg in Catalonia had been a 0-0 draw, but in the return leg at Old Trafford Paul Scholes scored the winner in some style.
Chelsea had to get past Liverpool to reach the final. In the first leg of the semi final at Anfield Chelsea were 1-0 down until an own goal from John Arne Riise in injury time made it a draw at 1-1. The second leg went to Extra Time after it was all square at 1-1 after 90 minutes. A penalty from Frank Lampard and a goal from Didier Drogba saw the Stamford Bridge outfit make it through to the final in Moscow.
Nani is expected to be recalled for Manchester United to the squad after being suspended for the final day title decider in the league. Centre-back Nemanja Vidic sat out final training yesterday but staff at the club insist he is to fit to start. Ryan Giggs is expected to start the game amongst the substitutes so Ji-Sung Park is likely to start.
Paul Scholes, who missed the 1999 Champions League final is likely to start the match. Sir Alex Ferguson has a tactical decision to make, whether to play Owen Hargreaves in midfield or start with Carlos Tevez up front. Hargreaves may be used alongside Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes to counter Chelsea's midfield trio of Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack.
Defenders Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry are both expected to start the game for Chelsea, Ashley Cole got a late injury in training and is a doubt. The England International left-back hurt his ankle after a strong challenge from Claude Makelele and went off for treatment yesterday.
Manchester United squad: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Heaton; Brown, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Neville, O'Shea, Pique, Silvestre, Anderson, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Nani, Park, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Saha, Welbeck.
Chelsea squad: Cech, Hilario, Cudicini, Belletti, Ferreira, Alex, Ben-Haim, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole, Bridge, Makelele, Essien, Lampard, Ballack, Kalou, Wright-Phillips, J Cole, Malouda, Drogba, Shevchenko, Anelka, Mikel.
Manchester United are targeting a first Champions League/domestic league double since their treble of 1998-99.
Chelsea go to Moscow, hoping to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time in their history.
This is the first Champions League final to be contested between two clubs from England, and the third time clubs from the same country have featured in such a match.
In 2000, the final was an all-Spanish affair (Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0), while clubs from Italy engaged in the 2003 final (AC Milan beat Juventus on penalties).
This final will produce England's 11th Champions Cup/Champions League winners, equalling the record amount of victories held by Spain and Italy.
England's previous 10 were Manchester United (1968), Liverpool (1977 and 1978), Nottingham Forest (1979 and 1980), Liverpool (1981), Aston Villa (1982), Liverpool (1984), Manchester United (1999) and Liverpool (2005).
Included this year's, England have provided 16 Champions Cup/Champions League finalists. Italy have provided the most (25).
England will also win their 29th European trophy (11 Champions League /Champions Cup, eight Cup Winners' Cups and 10 Fairs Cups/Uefa Cups). It will equal Spain's record total.
source: (BBC from Infostrada Sports.)