It's all eyes on England this weekend for the so-called "dream" FA Cup final between Premier League champion Manchester United and Chelsea, the team it dethroned. For many industry pundits, the FA Cup final has been a competition on the wane over the last several years, as bigger clubs tend to focus their attention elsewhere as schedules become crowded late in the season. In the 1999/2000 season, Manchester United even decided not to compete in the FA Cup so it could participate in FIFA's Club World Championship.
If the FA Cup ever needed a shot of publicity, you can't get much better than Manchester United-Chelsea at a newly revamped Wembley Stadium. As Joe Cole of Chelsea says, it's a competition that will always have that dreamy schoolyard cachet: "I've played in Champions Leagues, title deciders, World Cups and things but this is the biggest game I've played in," he said. "It's the FA Cup final, isn't it? It's the one."
"It was always the game you watched as a kid, no matter where you were," the England international adds. "When you're a boy you dream about scoring in the FA Cup final, you don't dream about scoring in a league game ... For me it's the top one. I'm not just saying that because it's what we're playing for tomorrow. It's what I dreamed of as a kid." (Note: The FA Cup final is available in the USA on Setanta pay-per-view, live, on Saturday, 9:55 am ET.)