Not surprisingly, many of the Italian stars who featured in the World Cup final in Berlin last summer are keen to reunite with their coach for the game which will mark two jubilees: the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for the modern-day European Union; and Manchester United's half-century in European competitions. It is being staged by the Manchester United Foundation and UEFA, with support from the European Union. All proceeds will go to charity.
By the weekend, 70,000 tickets for the match had been sold, setting an all-time record for a non-competition match at Old Trafford. It meant that only 2,000 tickets remained unsold, as capacity has been set at 72,000 for the Celebration Match in order to accommodate two giant screens that will be used during a pre-match entertainment sequence which will feature action and memorable moments from the matches United have played in UEFA competitions since the club's debut 50 years ago.
TV networks from 15 countries will be screening the match live. Lippi was keeping an eye on last week's UEFA Champions League action before adding more names to his Europe XI squad. AS Roma, who defeated Olympique Lyonnais to earn a quarter-final draw against Manchester United, have confirmed the availability of striker Alessandro Mancini, scorer of one of the week’s most spectacular goals in Lyon.
AC Milan have also confirmed that living-legend Paolo Maldini may be available for defensive duties, alongside midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, lynch-pins of Italy's World Cup campaign. They will be accompanied at Old Trafford by the Italian club's winter recruit, Ronaldo.
Valencia CF, who will take on Chelsea FC in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, have agreed to the presence of Portuguese international defender Luis Miguel, who made a great impression at EURO 2004. He will be joined by Real Madrid CF goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
However, Marcello Lippi will make a final check on players’ fitness after this weekend's league fixtures and will announce the entire Europe XI squad at a press conference on Monday 12 March 2007 at 12:30 (CET) at the Headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, hosted by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and attended by UEFA President, Michel Platini and Sir Bobby Charlton, representing Manchester United FC.
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