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Manchester United-Chelsea, the Moscow final
by Paul Kennedy, May 21st, 2008 7AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Manchester United and Chelsea meet Wednesday in Moscow in the first all-English final of the UEFA Champions League. Clarence Seedorf, the only player who has won the Champions League title with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan), will be part of the broadcast team on both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes during the game (kickoff: 2:30 pm ET). For a look at some of the key storylines ...

Probable Lineups
Man. United
Van der Sar (Netherlands)
Vidic (Serbia)
Evra (France)
Park Ji-Sung (South Korea)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Cech (Czech Rep.)
Essien (Ghana)
Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Makelele (France)
Ballack (Germany)
J. Cole
Malouda (France)
Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Cristiano Ronaldo and friends
Much has been written about Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is just one of three outstanding forwards Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has at his disposal.

Few teams in recent years can match the 1-2-3 punch of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

Ferguson tried to take some of the pressure off Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney by singling out Tevez as a potential match-winner.

"They are young, first of all," Ferguson said of Ronaldo and Rooney. "They have big futures ahead of them in terms of their ability, temperament and nerve, and their courage to play. It's a big stage for them tomorrow and a big challenge for them but it's a challenge for every one of the players."

As for the Argentine Tevez, who is on loan from West Ham United, "Tevez has been a fantastic player for us. It amazes me that a man can have so much energy in a game. The most important facet is his ability to score important goals."

Blues' trophy search
At one point, Chelsea was battling for four titles. The Blues' last hope is the Champions League. They lost to Tottenham in the League Cup final and were surprised by Barnsley in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Chelsea came close in the EPL but was edged out by United on the final day of the season.

German Michael Ballack, whose two goals gave Chelsea a 2-1 victory that pulled it even on the next-to-last day of the season, says Chelsea raised its game after the 1-0 loss at Barnsley.

"What happened at Barnsley showed all of us the very fine line between being out and winning the titles we want," the German said. "It was a signal to all of us. We were not used to that Chelsea is not a team that is used to ending the season with nothing. But at that point we were very close to finishing with nothing at all. That was the catalyst when we sat down together."

Chelsea's health issues
Chelsea captain John Terry will play with a special support after he suffered a partial dislocation of his shoulder in Chelsea's final league game on May 11.

Chelsea left back Ashley Cole suffered an ankle injury in training when he went down under a sliding challenge from teammate Claude Makelele during a game of one-touch football. Cole hobbled off the field, but he is expected to start.

Cole's backup is fellow England left back Wayne Bridge.

Luzhniki field problems
The original grass surface installed in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, site of Wednesday's final, would have been a "catastrophe," according to its groundskeeper, Matthew Frost, but he added that he was "totally disappointed" with the replacement turf.

Manchester United's Ferguson tried to avoid blasting the surface, saying he had no concerns for the surface, but he gave it faint praise, saying it would not be any worse than the surface at United's Old Trafford home in mid-winter.

"I'm totally disappointed with the whole project and what we're presenting for the final," Frost told BBC radio. "It's acceptable but it's a big personal disappointment for me and the project as a whole because things haven't gone very well from the start. That's Russia, I'm afraid. It's not a perfect world."

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