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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Champions League Final : Chelsea FC The Blues Vs Manchester United The Red Devils

Champions League final: Provisional teams and analysis for Manchester United and ChelseaBy Alan Smith
Last Updated: 2:46am BST 21/05/2008

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Wednesday May 21. 7.45pm

Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)

Petr Cech Injury wise, the past 18 months have proved a nightmare, leading to some uncharacteristic errors. Still a class act though and a potential matchwinner.£70,000 (Wages per week)£10m (Transfer value)

Michael Essien It is a testament to his all-round ability that Avram Grant feels compelled to find his midfielder a place. Can provide the extra man pushing up on that side.£80,000 (Wages per week)£20m (Transfer value)

Ricardo Carvalho Defends like a musketeer, sweeping in and out of challenges with swashbuckling panache. His mobility will enable him to keep tabs on United's fluid attack.£80,000 (Wages per week)£19m (Transfer value)

John Terry After a dislocated elbow threatened his inclusion, just seeing their captain in his kit will give Chelsea a lift. Leaders do not come much more inspirational.£150,000 (Wages per week)£25m (Transfer value)

Ashley Cole Has never quite reached his old Arsenal standards in a system that discourages so much adventure. Still hard to beat though, as Cristiano Ronaldo will vouch.£100,000 (Wages per week)£19m (Transfer value)

Claude Makelele Still no one better at sniffing out danger before it appears - handy when Rooney and Ronaldo drift deep. Now 35, this could be his last hurrah.£70,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)

Frank Lampard He and Ballack look more compatible having worked out who goes and who hangs back. Worked all his career for an occasion like this. Unlikely to disappoint.£90,000 (Wages per week)£25m (Transfer value)

Michael Ballack Enjoying himself now, this beautifully balanced, two-footed player arrives in the box with consummate timing. The German is made for games like this.£120,000 (Wages per week)£20m (Transfer value)

Joe Cole After a terrific season he should step out tonight brimming with confidence to keep Evra's hands full when Chelsea take possession. Due a goal, too.£85,000 (Wages per week)£18m (Transfer value)

Florent Malouda Sneaks in ahead of Kalou thanks to his greater reliability and big-match experience. Has endured an up-and-down season interrupted by injury.£60,000 (Wages per week)£12m (Transfer value)

Didier Drogba Chelsea's talisman can terrorise with his power and pace. If suitably motivated, which should be a given, even Ferdinand and Vidic will find the going tough.£90,000 (Wages per week)£24m (Transfer value)

On the bench

Carlo Cudicini

Second-best to Cech, but shouldn't be fazed by the challenge if called upon.£50,000 (Wages per week)£5m (Transfer value)

Juliano Belletti

Has previous in this final, having scored the winner for Barcelona two years ago.£65,000 (Wages per week)£12m (Transfer value)


Big and strong, he has done pretty well in his first season in London.£70,000 (Wages per week)£15m (Transfer value)

Salomon Kalou

Flits in and out with his dribbling, but can do some damage if given the space.£60,000 (Wages per week)£12m (Transfer value)

John Obi Mikel

A possible replacement if Makelele tires, though not so cute in shielding the defence.£65,000 (Wages per week)£14m (Transfer value)

Nicolas Anelka

About time he showed what he can do. What better occasion than this?£90,000 (Wages per week)£15m (Transfer value)

Andrei Shevchenko

Might the scene be set for a glorious intervention after two disappointing years?£100,000 (Wages per week)£12m (Transfer value)

Manchester United
Edwin van der Sar

At 37, still a very good goalkeeper. Though weak at kicking, his natural authority and confidence make the Dutchman a safe pair of hands in this context.
£80,000 (Wages per week)£3m (Transfer value)

Wes Brown

A great way to finish the busiest season of his United career to date. Often derided, but, as Gary Neville's deputy, the defender has made very few mistakes.
£55,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)
Rio Ferdinand

In the form of his life, this elegant defender has added grit and consistency to his game to become the complete package. Loves responsibility as captain.
£120,000 (Wages per week)£40m (Transfer value)

Nemanja Vidic

The perfect partner for Ferdinand. Combative and aggressive, he will not shy away from a battle with Drogba. Always a danger from corners as well.
£70,000 (Wages per week)£18m (Transfer value)

Patrice Evra

As an attacking left-back, few come close to the Frenchman. Will not hesitate to bomb forward, partly with the intention of pushing back Joe Cole.
£30,000 (Wages per week)£12m (Transfer value)

Owen Hargreaves

Bought for European jaunts, yet hasn't been used as much as expected. Gets the nod here for his dogged resolve to counter the threat of Lampard and Ballack.
£80,000 (Wages per week)£18m (Transfer value)

Michael Carrick

Increasingly influential, this understated Geordie can make United tick. Might push further forward here to make the most of his wonderful passing range.
£80,000 (Wages per week)£18m (Transfer value)

Paul Scholes

Must pick his moments more carefully but remains a threat to Chelsea's rearguard. Missed the 1999 final, so Moscow amounts to his biggest club game.
£90,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cometh the hour. His prodigious talent deserves such a stage. And if he starts quickly, Ashley Cole and Co will be asked all sorts of questions.
£125,000 (Wages per week)£75m (Transfer value)

Ji-Sung Park

A willing workhorse lacking the subtlety of many team-mates but a player on whom Sir Alex Ferguson can depend. Unlikely to last the full 90 minutes.
£40,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)

Wayne Rooney

Even more pivotal than Ronaldo to United's game-plan, his vision and energy shape the team's fortunes. Must guard against frustration if progress is slow.
£115,000 (Wages per week)£40m (Transfer value)

On the bench

Tomasz Kuszczak
Has shown that he might not be the answer when Van der Sar steps down.£25,000 (Wages per week)£2.5m (Transfer value)

Ryan Giggs
Seeking Sir Bobby Charlton's appearance record, the veteran winger has the intelligence to alter games.£85,000 (Wages per week)£4m (Transfer value)

Darren Fletche
Has improved beyond measure; now a reliable squad member.£40,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)

John O'Shea
Great versatility and a fair bit of experience make the Irishman handy in reserve.£45,000 (Wages per week)£6m (Transfer value)

Incredibly strong, the little Brazilian has enjoyed a great debut season.£55,000 (Wages per week)£18m (Transfer value)

Carlos Tevez
Unlucky to miss out, but what a weapon to have if the shape needs to change.£95,000 (Wages per week)£30m (Transfer value)

Mikael Silvestre
Returns from injury, just in time, perhaps, to play a key part.£50,000 (Wages per week)£5m (Transfer value)

Pitch verdict

The news is not as bad as first feared; certainly not as pessimistic as reported yesterday when it sounded like the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium wasn't fit for a pub team, never mind the Champions League final. But after walking along the side of this newly-relayed surface I can confirm that it should hold up OK. Yes, there are one or two patches that haven't bedded in properly and some dry patches are visible from up in the stand. The grass, admittedly, was a bit long as well but I'd say the English groundsman, Matthew Frost, was only protecting his patch for last night's training sessions. A closer cut today should have it in good shape.

Ref watch

Lubos Michel has taken charge of 73 Uefa games; this will be his 49th game in the Champions League. He speak five languages: Slovakian, English, Russian, German and Polish. He was the first Slovakian referee since independence to officiate at a World Cup.


Phua Tzai Wei said...