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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Latest Champions League News

Champions League victors to take home £85m
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 1:26pm BST 21/05/2008

This evening's Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea will be the richest match in the history of football.

The contest at the Luzhniki Stadium between the Premier League champions and runners-up is reported to be generating in excess of £200 million in prize-money, spending and TV income.

Meanwhile, the two sides will share a minimum of £115m between them says Professor Simon Chadwick, director of Coventry University's Centre for the International Business of Sport.
The victors tonight will receive £85m in prize-money and commercial spin-offs, with the losers taking home £30m.
However, it is not just the two competing teams who will benefit financially, but many different aspects of sporting life in the United Kingdom as well, including the betting industry, bars and restaurants, supermarkets, travel and consumer goods such as the sale of TVs.

"This is not only the greatest prize in European football, but it is expected to be the biggest yet in economic terms, with a total cumulative impact that could be upwards of £210m

"Quite apart from the qualifying, group and knock-out stages of the tournament, this places the final itself on a par with the world's leading regular, one-off sporting events, such as the National Football League's Super Bowl in the USA."
Chadwick has also estimated that the Moscow economy will benefit by upwards of £35m of extra income being spent in the Russian capital on hotel rooms, food and drink.
Meanwhile, either London or Manchester, depending upon who will be cheering loudest come the full-time whistle in the Luzhniki, will be boosted in the region of £10m by victory tonight via increased tourism and the confidence of having Europe's premier club team as their own.

ITV, who will be broadcasting the final on terrestrial television, have increased their advertising rates for slots around the game by 50 per cent, with an actual 30-second slot during the final itself costing upwards of £200,000.

Drogba: Grant not behind Chelsea success

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has launched an astonishing outburst against boss Avram Grant on the eve of his club's Champions League final against Manchester United.
Drogba has claimed that Grant, who took over from Jose Mourinho last year, has played virtually no part in the team's success this season and achievement in reaching their first Champions League final.
Drogba told France Football: 'What do you want me to say about him?

Chelsea senior players know Grant will leave coaching job - May 20, 2008

Chelsea's senior players have been informed that coach Avram Grant will be kicked upstairs immediately after tomorrow's Champions League final, it has been revealed.
The Daily Star says Frank Lampard and John Terry have already been informed that Grant will not remain in charge but will return to his old job of director of football.
Russia coach Guus Hiddink is the latest big-name to be linked with Grant's post.

Chelsea and United players told to expect a pitch battle in Moscow

Chelsea and Manchester United have been warned that the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium is dangerous and not fit to stage the Champions League Final

The stadium groundsmen are in a race against time to improve the surface which has several bare patches and is very bumpy just two days before the match.
It is the same ground where England played their Euro 2008 qualifier on an artificial pitch against Russia last year, but it has now been relaid with turf shipped in from Slovakia.

The blocks of grass had been frozen for several days and they are now struggling to bed in to form an even surface.
English head groundsman Matthew Frost said: ?It's not like one of the better Premier League pitches, far from it. Unfortunately things didn't work out. The ball may not travel perfectly like on a pitch that has been in situ for some time. There might be a bit of a bobble.?
Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon was far more critical and fears for the players' safety.
He told Sky Sports News: ?It's awful and embarrassing. There are undulations and, to be frank, it's very dangerous for the players if it stays the way it is. The players won't be happy.?
Meanwhile, the referee who awarded a controversial ?goal from the moon? against Chelsea will take charge of the final.
Slovakian Lubos Michel was heavily criticised by then Blues boss Jose Mourinho after ruling that Luis Garcia's effort had crossed the line at Anfield in the second leg of the European semi-final against Liverpool in 2005.

Groundsman work to get the playing surface ready
And the linesman who signalled to Michel that it was a goal, fellow countryman Roman Slysko, is again one of his assistant referees along with Martin Balko.
Mourinho moaned it was ?a goal from the moon? and said ?the linesman scored?.
He also added: ?Football sometimes is cruel. We have to accept the result. They scored a goal, if you can say they scored it.?
Michel has officiated in a Chelsea match since, taking charge of the group match with Werder Bremen last season, and Mourinho's team lost that game 1-0 as well.
The referee, who was 40 last Friday, is regarded as one of the top officials in Europe.
The former teacher speaks English, Russian, German and Polish and was ranked the world's third best referee in 2005, second best in 2006 and third best again last year.
But he also drew criticism from Martin O'Neill after he took charge of the 2003 UEFA Cup Final between Porto and Celtic and sent off defender Bobo Balde during the Scots' 3-2 defeat in Seville.
The Celtic manager also felt the official allowed too much time-wasting by Porto who, ironically, were then managed by Mourinho.

Manchester United are running scared after we pushed them so close in the league, claims Chelsea's Cole

Joe Cole says Manchester United are scared of Chelsea because they did not win the Barclays Premier League by a greater margin
United only clinched the title by two points on the final day of the season, despite Chelsea's squad being ravaged with injuries to key players for most of the campaign.
Cole said: "They will be going into the game as champions and are very happy, but they will look at Chelsea this year and worry because we only finished two points behind them.

"They know we missed players like Lampard, Terry, Ballack, Essien, Drogba, Kalou and Cech for massive parts of the season and they will be concerned because, despite that, we still nearly won the championship.
"The two teams know each other inside out and it's a case of who can play their game best.
"We both know how to win big matches."

Chelsea Boosted With News Ashley Cole Is Fit For Champions League Final v Man Utd

Chelsea have been boosted by the news that experienced left-back Ashley Cole will be fit for tonight's Champions League Final against Manchester United at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Cole suffered a slight injury during training at the stadium last night when a tackle from Claude Makelele incurred a knock to Cole’s right ankle.
The 27-year-old England international was attended to by Chelsea physios before Cole tried returning to training, but he was clearly in distress and Chelsea boss Avram Grant decided to rest him for the rest of the training session.
After a nights rest, Chelsea now believe that he will have recovered in time, but Grant has put Wayne Bridge on standby to play in case of a recurrence.

Ronaldo and Didier Drogba to wear new go-faster boots

Cristiano Ronaldo has kept banging in the goals this season whether he has been wearing tangerine boots, red ones or something slightly more discreet.
But at Luzhniki stadium tonight he will be running out in a new Nike style - black with a PINK swoosh.
Chelsea hitman Didier Drogba will also be giving a debut to the super-light Mercurial SL boot, which weighs just 180g. He said: "It is like nothing I have ever seen before."
Made almost entirely of carbon fibre, which is lightweight but very strong, it has taken three years to develop.
And Ronaldo hopes it will make him go even faster, saying: "Speed and acceleration are essential to my game - one second can be the difference between winning or losing the Champions League Final. This Mercurial SL boot is designed to provide the next level of speed."

Setenta UCL News

Cech hoping to dazzle in Moscowby JP Lonergan, 19 May 2008

Petr Cech is hoping his new orange shirt can help Chelsea in their bid for a first ever Champions League title on Wednesday.John Terry may not be a fan of the alarmingly bright ensemble that he saw heading straight for him before his arm injury in the draw with Bolton Wanderers a week ago, the game in which the shirt made its debut.But Cech thinks it can give The Blues an extra advantage in the bid to deny Messrs Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez and friends when The Blues face Manchester United in Moscow this week.The Czech Republic international goalkeeper’s shirt has been developed by Russian scientists with Cech believing it will act as a distraction to the opposition.“It’s been scientifically proven that you shoot at targets when you see one,” Cech said in Tuesday’s edition of The Times.“Even when a player wants to shoot into the bottom corner, they see the orange shirt and they can’t ignore the colour because it’s attractive to their eyes. It happens quickly and subconsciously, but eyes cannot ignore such a bright colour.” “The studies say the colour is like an alarm or alert which spreads and is very difficult to avoid. I found this out from a Russian guy working at Sparta Prague when I was there four years ago. He showed me all his studies and I was very impressed."

JT looking to outgun Rio in Moscowby Tom Kell, 20 May 2008

John Terry has his fingers crossed that Fabio Capello has got his hands on a ticket for Wednesday’s night’s Champions League final as the Chelsea man is eyeing the match as a perfect chance to impress his England manager enough to wrestle back the international captaincy from Rio Ferdinand.
Capello’s captaincy merry-go-round has been in full swing since the Italian took charge, but Terry has thus far been denied the chance to pull on the armband he wore throughout Steve McClaren’s doomed tenure.
The Chelsea skipper has so far kept quiet on the issue but, as he prepares to go head to head with his Manchester United counterpart in the Luzhniki Stadium, he concedes that thoughts other than European glory are occupying his mind.
“I am disappointed with what has happened,” he said in The Sun. “I want the armband and my England place back. Maybe a performance in this final would go a long way to getting those things back.
"But Rio has been different class this year and particularly since he was made captain against France.
“We have seen a world-class player at the top of his game and, as a centre-half looking on, I would say he has been awesome.
“But I want to get out there and prove I am the right man for the England job.”
Having led The Blues to within touching distance of European victory in recent seasons, Terry feels it is impossible to overestimate the significance of their date in Moscow.
“I’ve seen the changes over the years and I don’t think people realise how important this is for Chelsea,” he added.
“It means the world to me to be in the final, it is an achievement in itself. But beyond that I want to get my hands on the trophy. I’m desperate to do it.”

Grant has a taste for moreby Tom Kell, 20 May 2008

Avram Grant insists that neither he nor his Chelsea team are about to rest on their laurels having reached their first ever Champions League final.
Despite struggling to endear himself to The Blues’ support since succeeding Jose Mourinho, Grant has already gone one better than his Portuguese predecessor by guiding the club to the final stage of the competition.
Grant’s surprise progress has helped to silence some of his critics, even if doubts about his future at Stamford Bridge continue to linger.

However, the Israeli is certainly not contemplating signing off in Moscow on Wednesday.
“I said the main target is to be in the final of the Champions League because this is a step for a big club,” said the Israeli.
“I cannot describe it but the fact is we are in the final of the Champions League. We want more.
“If I win ten titles in ten years I will feel always that I need to prove myself – this is what football’s about.
“That’s what I said to the players. The minute you think you have nothing to prove you have a problem.”

Anelka: We've got the big playersby Mairianne Reardon, 19 May 2008

Striker Nicolas Anelka has promised that Chelsea’s big game players will offer a ‘different’ game to nail the all-England Champions League final in Moscow on Wednesday.
The former Bolton player, who won the European Cup eight years ago with Real Madrid, believes his side face a difficult challenge in Premier League winners Manchester United, but in pushing for an open, exciting game, they will return to the Bridge victorious.
“It is going to be a different game,” said the 29-year-old France international.
“We play Manchester United and we know them and they know us and it is going to be very hard but I think we can do it because we have big players who are used to this type of game.
“Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and when you look at the names of the players you can see that.
“From what I see outside, it was a big club and now that I am here inside I can see that.
“We have here players who have been in finals every year but they have not been in the Champions League final before so it is going to be very hard but hopefully we will come back with the title.”
Chelsea beat The Red Devils 2-1 in their last Premier League meeting back in April, but were pipped to the title post by their rivals, finishing the season in second place.
Anelka refused to admit revenge was running through the veins of Chelsea in pursuit of the European title, but is adamant that The Blues must claim some silverware this season.
“We don’t think like that, because Manchester United deserved to win the league.
“If you look at the quality of the squad, of course we have to win a trophy. That is why we are here.
“You can look at the team and see one that tries to do our best on the pitch and we try to win games. Now we are in the final we still have to win one more game.”

Tevez 'to retire' in four yearsby Laurent Picard, 21 May 2008

Manchester United attacker Carlos Tevez plans to retire at the age of 28 having won every honour in the game, starting with the Champions League on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old will play four more seasons of professional football before hanging up his boots, and he has said that winning all the titles in the world is his number one objective.
When asked if he still plans to retire at the age of 28, Tevez said: “Yes, I still have this idea of retiring early and well.
“It would be perfect. We never know and it might be difficult to stop. I will do it when I feel happy on the pitch.
“I am very good, relaxed,” he said about the game with Chelsea.
“I am trying to rest as much I can, thinking 100% of the final.
“I want to play. I never dreamt of being there. But with the time I understand what a Champions League (final) is.
“For that reason I want it so much. But I am not putting more pressure on myself.
“I never imagined what could happen in my first year with Manchester. For real, but I knew the atmosphere and I knew this club would fight at the top.
“I have not changed my style of football. Maybe I added a few things, like moving away (from the attack) to help the team, being able to know when I have to accelerate (…).
“I play relaxed because I am only thinking about the next game. For me it is fundamental to have this liberty and you can see that I am good and happy.”
The Argentina international was asked if the game with Chelsea will be the most important of his career.
He added: “I do not know. I have been lucky to play important games. As far as I can remember, the most important was during the (2006) World Cup (with Argentina) against Germany (in the quarter finals).
“I always want to carry on winning great things.
“I have recently turned 24 and if I think of what I have won, I would have to retire. And it is not like this. There are always new aims, and mine if to be champion of everything.
“And this makes me feel very confident in myself.
“I have been through very bad moments at West Ham. Ugly ones.
“When the manager (Alan Pardew) did not count on me, I told myself: “I am fed up with football”.
“Today I am in Moscow. Everything changed in less than a year, most of all because I battled and proved myself on the pitch.

Rooney looking for 'payback'by Joseph Caron Dawe, 21 May 2008

Wayne Rooney says Wednesday evening’s Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow will provide him with the chance for ‘payback’ on The Blues.
The United forward has a bank of negative experience stored up in his mind when it comes to contests with the West Londoners, and he is determined to wipe that clear with victory over Avram Grant’s side in the European Cup final.
Rooney has previous personal form with Chelsea centre back Ricardo Carvalho from England’s doomed World Cup quarter-final in 2006, and has also experienced his fair share of misfortune against Chelsea.
“I’ve not had great memories against Chelsea, and it is the same thing with Portugal,” said Rooney in the Daily Express. “I’ve had a few ups and a few downs against them.
“I broke my foot on the day we lost The Premier League to them a couple of years ago and they beat us at Wembley last season, so I’ve had some bad times. But hopefully this will be a good one and it will be payback time.
“The incident with Carvalho was a turning point in my career. I’ve spoken to him a couple of times since then; he’s a nice guy, and I’ve got no problem with him.
“He’s the hardest defender I’ve ever played against. He’s strong and he’s quick and he reads the game very well. And obviously John Terry’s a big, strong defender who will never give in, so they complement each other well and they are a difficult pair to play against, as Chelsea are as a team. The games are always close.”

Wenger: This man will decide Euro Cupby Ben Blackmore, 20 May 2008

Arsene Wenger had a chilling warning for Sir Alex Ferguson and Avram Grant, predicting Wednesday’s Champions League final will be decided by a refereeing decision.
Lubos Michel, the referee that awarded Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ in 2005, will officiate in Moscow, but Wenger has clearly lost faith in football’s top officials this season - claiming ‘every big game has been decided by refereeing decisions’.
The Arsenal boss was memorably left fuming after his side exited this season’s Champions League at Anfield, labelling the decision to award Ryan Babel a late penalty ‘dodgy’.
Liverpool then found themselves on the wrong end of two decisions in the semi-finals with a suspect offside decision leading to Didier Drogba’s opening goal in the second leg, while Sami Hyypia was denied a possible late penalty.
In the league, Arsenal lost at Old Trafford after a penalty decision against William Gallas, while Chelsea recently beat Manchester United thanks to a late handball decision against Michael Carrick.
"Every match is being decided on a referee's decision and I wouldn't put my house on a ref's decision,” said Wenger.
“You saw in the semi-finals that every decision of the referee can influence the result.
"It's that fraction of a second, too difficult to decide if it's off-side or not. Is it a penalty or not?
“It is so tight between teams at the top in England. For me every big game has been decided by refereeing decisions.”
Meanwhile, Wenger paid tribute to Avram Grant, insisting it is time the Chelsea boss was given respect rather than compared to Jose Mourinho.
“He has a completely different style to Mourinho but that doesn't mean he's not good.
"He doesn't say all day 'it's only me'. Everybody thinks because he doesn't say that that he's bad. That's not right.
“You look at what people do and what they say, does it make sense, how they act. I like his style."

Chelsea Will Win It - Carragher

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes Chelsea will win this evening's Champions League final against Manchester United in Moscow.

The Reds were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Blues - this, after having beaten them in both of their previous meetings at this stage in the competition in the previous three years.It is Chelsea's first final and Carragher, true to his Liverpudlian genes, is backing anyone but United to win club football's most prestigious trophy, and in this case, that is Chelsea.The battling stopper believes it will not be a classic game - more edgy and tentative - with defensive stability playing a large part in the eventual outcome of the game.“I don’t see it being a classic game but I think Chelsea will just edge it,” Carragher told the club's official website.“It won’t be open and so I think whichever side defends the best on the night will win the match.”

Vieira expects tight contest
Inter midfielder admits European final is too close to call,19528,11095_3591927,00.html

Internazionale midfielder Patrick Vieira believes the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea is too close to call.
Premier League duo United and Chelsea go head-to-head at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1, with both sides chasing European glory.
The Red Devils edged the domestic battle between the pair after final day drama saw Sir Alex Ferguson's men lift the League title by a margin of two points.
And Vieira, whose club departed this season's competition at the last 16 stage, is expecting a tense and edgy fixture as two contrasting playing styles lock horns.
"Chelsea and United fully deserve to be in the final," Vieira said at an event run by Ford's Feel Football debate website
"It is really difficult to predict. I believe Manchester United play more attractive football. They have some really good individual talent.
"On the other side, Chelsea are a really tough team to play against. They are really experienced and really strong, and look fresher than Manchester United.
"When Jose Mourinho left there was a big question mark about Chelsea. But I think they have been working really hard and you can see the quality of the players and the mental strengths of the team."

Frisk Back Chelsea to Win !

Fired up
However, former World Cup referee Anders Frisk, also speaking on behalf of Ford's Feel Football programme, believes Chelsea's thirst for revenge tips the scales in their favour.
"I predict that Chelsea will beat United because they will be fired up after losing out in the league," Frisk exclusively told
Fergie expects skillful United to overpower ChelseaWednesday, May 21, 2008
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his team have the skill to match Chelsea's strength and lift the European Cup.
Although his side went on to retain the Barclays Premier League title, Ferguson is still hurting by the defeat at Stamford Bridge.
He intends to put the record straight when England's top two go head to head tonight in Russia in the Champions League final.
He said: 'I have the players to do the job and I trust them.
'Chelsea are physically stronger than most of the Premier League teams but we do not need to match that.
'We have to play with our main strength, our movement and our passing, our ability to create openings in the game.
'We are in good shape and I do not want us to change too much.
'Maybe we don't have the overall experience like Chelsea in terms of age but we have courage.'
Certainly United have a variety of strong attacking options with the likes of 41-goal Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez to call on.
Tevez's loan spell is up next summer and United are hoping to tie him up on a long-term deal.
Ferguson said: 'Part of the plan is to have Carlos at the club in the long term. There is no question we want him to stay.
'I think David Gill (chief executive) is progressing on that as best he can.
'One of the reasons we are here in Moscow and won the title is because of Carlos.
'He has that ability to score important goals for us, just like Eric Cantona used to do.
'Carlos has been a revelation for us and is a fantastic professional.'
Ferguson insists, however, they are not a one-man band.
'The final is a big challenge for every one of my players,' he said. 'I depend on them all to be at the top of their game. That way we have a massive chance.'