When Manchester United and Chelsea walk out at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Wednesday evening, it will mark an historic occasion in European football – the first all English Champions League final.
For Manchester United, it will be a chance to add to their victories in 1968 and 1999 while for Chelsea, it’s the first time they’ve made it to this stage of the competition.
Both teams spent time yesterday training on what is described as a disappointing pitch and things certainly went better for United. All their players are fit and manager Sir Alex Ferguson has the difficult job of discarding 6 of his 24 man squad.
At his final media conference, Ferguson said “There is a weakness in the European trophies we’ve won and I hope we can make that better.
“We have had 10 days’ good preparation; we’re in our best shape for this game. We are fresher than we were for last year’s (FA Cup) final.
“I trust my players and they’ve got the nerve and the courage and that will make a difference.”
Chelsea meanwhile were hit by an injury scare to full back Ashley Cole who took a knock to the ankle after a tackle from Claude Makelele. After lengthy treatment, the England international returned to the pitch and seemed to take a full part in the remainder of the session.
Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and Didier Drogba are all expected to be fit.
Captain Terry dislocated his elbow on the final day of the Premier League season, but seems to have made a stunning recovery to play.
Fellow defender Carvalho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, has overcome a back injury and influential striker Drogba looks to have shaken off a knee problem.
Despite reaching the final, rumours surrounding the future of coach Avram Grant refuse to go away, but the man himself says he’s concentrating on the game and not his position at Stamford Bridge, dismissing suggestions that the final would be his game in charge of the London club.
“You need to respect everyone at Chelsea and ask questions about the final, not about me. We are here because we are here for the most important game for the club.”