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All set for Old Trafford showdown

Published: Wednesday 24 April 2002, 14.50CET
Manchester United FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen meet for the first time tonight at Old Trafford.

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Published: Wednesday 24 April 2002, 14.50CET

All set for Old Trafford showdown

Manchester United FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen meet for the first time tonight at Old Trafford.

Manchester United FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen meet for the first time tonight in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.

Live coverage
As ever, uefa.com will provide live coverage of the encounter, including full audio and text commentary, as the English champions welcome the German league leaders. A place in next month's Glasgow final against either Real Madrid CF or FC Barcelona is at stake, and both clubs will be keen to take the upper hand as quickly as possible in tonight's match.

Verón back
United are without David Beckham but manager Sir Alex Ferguson can call on Juan Sebastián Verón to bolster his midfield and the fit-again Roy Keane is included among the substitutes. Verón could play on the right of midfield with Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes in the centre and Ole Gunnar Solskjær on the left. Ryan Giggs will continue through the middle alongside the prolific Ruud van Nistelrooij, the tournament's top scorer with nine goals.

'Dream in sight'
Promising young defender Wes Brown is another player returning to European action, in place of hamstring victim Ronny Johnsen, and he has set his sights on impressing England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. "The dream end to the campaign for me would be to line up in the European Cup final in Glasgow. And England? We'll have to wait and see."

Forward thinking
Leverkusen are expected to start with just one man up front, Dimitar Berbatov, with Oliver Neuville and Ulf Kirsten on the bench. Attacking play will not be in short supply, though, as the likes of Michael Ballack, Yildiray Bastürk and Zé Roberto will all look to get forward whenever possible.

'In good heart'
Captain Jens Nowotny is confident that his side can get a good result at Old Trafford, ahead of next week's return at the BayArena. "We are in good heart," he said. "We fought the whole of last season to reach the Champions League. Now we have reached the semi-final, of course we want to get through to the final."

Last updated: 24/04/02 21.50CET

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