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Europe awaits all-English showdown

Adversaries during an absorbing finale to the Premier League season, Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC now take their rivalry on to the biggest stage of all.

Chelsea and Manchester United will be meeting for the fourth time this season
Chelsea and Manchester United will be meeting for the fourth time this season ©Getty Images

Adversaries during an absorbing conclusion to the Premier League season, Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC will take their rivalry on to the biggest stage of all when they step out in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium for the first all-English UEFA Champions League final on 21 May.

• United are aiming to inflict further heartache on Chelsea by claiming their third European Champion Clubs' Cup, having already pipped them to the Premier League title on the season's final day. By winning 2-0 at Wigan Athletic FC on 11 May United ensured they finished two points clear of Avram Grant's team, who began the day level on points but were held 1-1 at home by Bolton Wanderers FC.

• A UEFA Champions League triumph this year, 50 years after the loss of eight of manager Sir Matt Busby's 'Babes' in the 1958 Munich air crash, would carry a particular emotional resonance for United, who were previously continental champions in 1968 and 1999.

• Chelsea, by contrast, will hope the size of the prize at stake will inspire them to rise above their domestic disappointment and claim their first European Cup in what is their first final. If Moscow appears perhaps the perfect venue for the club's Russian owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea supporters may find another positive omen in the date of the final: it was on 21 May 1971 that the London side won their first European trophy, beating Real Madrid CF to claim the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

• Although second best in the Premier League, Chelsea may also take heart from the fact in the two previous same-country finals – Real Madrid v Valencia CF in 2000 and AC Milan v Juventus in 2003 – it was the side finishing lower in their domestic league who triumphed. The Blues will hope history repeats itself as they look to avoid a first campaign without winning a trophy since 2003/04.

• Whoever wins, what is guaranteed is that an English name will be etched on to the European Cup for the eleventh time, taking England level with Italy and Spain as the countries with most successes in the competition.

• The previous ten English triumphs were: Manchester United (1968), Liverpool FC (1977), Liverpool (1978), Nottingham Forest FC (1979), Nottingham Forest (1980), Liverpool (1981), Aston Villa FC (1982), Liverpool (1984), Man United (1999), Liverpool (2005).

• On what could prove a night of milestones, United winger Ryan Giggs will surpass Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 758 appearances for the club if he takes the field in Moscow. Giggs equalled the record with a goalscoring appearance as a substitute against Wigan.

• His manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, will establish a record for continental achievement over the longest span of years if United prevail. It is 25 years since he first held aloft a trophy in Europe, winning the 1983 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen FC. This would outdo – by some distance – the 17 years that separate Sven-Göran Eriksson's 1982 UEFA Cup victory with IFK Göteborg and his 1999 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup success with S.S. Lazio.

• Nine years after overseeing the 1999 final victory against FC Bayern München, Sir Alex would also become the 16th member of an exclusive club of coaches to have won the European Cup more than once.

• Fourteen coaches have claimed the trophy twice: José Villalonga (1956, 1957), Luis Antonio Carniglia (1958, 1959), Béla Guttman (1961, 1962), Helenio Herrera (1964, 1965), Miguel Muñoz (1960, 1966), Nereo Rocco (1963, 1969), Stefan Kovács (1972, 1973), Dettmar Cramer (1975, 1976), Brian Clough (1979, 1980), Ernst Happel (1970, 1983), Arrigo Sacchi (1989, 1990), Ottmar Hitzfeld (1997, 2001), Vicente Del Bosque (2000, 2002), Carlo Ancelotti (2003, 2007).

• Englishman Bob Paisley is the only man to have won it more than twice, guiding Liverpool to three European Cups (1977, 1978, 1981).

• The longest gap between European Cup wins for a coach is the 13 years that separate Happel's triumphs with Feyenoord in 1970 and Hamburger SV in 1983.

• Sir Alex, at 66, will become the second-oldest man to lead a team to the European Cup if United triumph. The oldest winning coach is the Belgian Raymond Goethals who was 71 years 232 days old when his Olympique de Marseille side defeated AC Milan in 1993.

• Ten players have won the European Cup with two different clubs and there will be eight players in the two final squads hoping to achieve that feat themselves.

• United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was part of AFC Ajax's victorious team in 1995 before finishing a runner-up with the Dutch club the following year while his colleague Owen Hargreaves won the trophy with Bayern in 2001.

• Chelsea defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira were on the winning team with FC Porto in the 2004 final against an AS Monaco FC side that included United defender Patrice Evra.

• Andriy Shevchenko struck the deciding penalty for Milan in their shoot-out victory against Juventus in the 2003 final at Old Trafford – although two years later his saved kick consigned Milan to defeat in another final shoot-out, on that occasion against Liverpool.

• Nicolas Anelka was a winner with Real Madrid in 2000 and Claude Makelele likewise in 2002 against a Bayer 04 Leverkusen team featuring his Chelsea colleague Michael Ballack.

• Juliano Belletti struck the winning goal for FC Barcelona against Arsenal FC in the 2006 final. 

• Giggs and Gary Neville are United's only survivors from the team that beat Bayern in Barcelona. Defender Wes Brown was a non-playing substitute but midfielder Paul Scholes missed the final because of suspension.

• It was a Scholes goal that carried United into the final, earning a 1-0 aggregate victory against semi-final opponents FC Barcelona. His strike came after 14 minutes of the second leg in Manchester.

• The Old Trafford outfit had previously defeated Olympique Lyonnais (2-1 on aggregate) in the first knockout round and AS Roma (3-0 overall) in the quarter-finals. They topped their section in the group stage with a record of W5 D1 L0. All together, their 2007/08 competition results show nine wins and three draws with 19 goals scored and five conceded.

• Chelsea secured their passage to Moscow by beating Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate. After John Arne Riise's injury-time own goal earned them a 1-1 first-leg draw at Anfield, they ran out 3-2 winners after extra time in the home return, Didier Drogba (33, 105) and Frank Lampard (98pen) the scorers.

• The Stamford Bridge club had reached the semi-finals with victories against Olympiacos CFP (3-0 agg) and Fenerbahçe SK (3-2 agg). They finished first in their group with a record of W3 D3 L0. In total they have won six of their 12 games en route to Moscow, drawing five and losing one, with a goals record of 19 for and seven against.

• United captured their first European Cup by defeating SL Benfica 4-1 at Wembley Stadium on 29 May 1968. Bobby Charlton gave Busby's side the lead early in the second half but Benfica responded through Jaime Graça to force extra time. United made no mistake in the additional period, striking three times in quick succession through George Best, Brian Kidd and Charlton again.

• United's team that night was:
Alex Stepney, Shay Brennan, Tony Dunne, Pat Crerand, Bill Foulkes, Nobby Stiles, George Best, Brian Kidd, Bobby Charlton, David Sadler, John Aston.

• The night of 26 May 1999 brought United's second European crown, when substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær both struck in injury time to secure a miraculous comeback against a Bayern side who had led from the sixth minute through Mario Basler's goal.

• The team at the Camp Nou was:
Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen, Jaap Stam, Denis Irwin, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Jesper Blomqvist (Teddy Sheringham 67), Andrew Cole (Ole Gunnar Solskjær 81), Dwight Yorke.

• United's European CV also includes victory in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. Mark Hughes struck both goals (67 and 74) in a 2-1 success against a Barcelona side for whom Ronald Koeman struck a late reply.

• The United team in Rotterdam was:
Les Sealey, Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Clayton Blackmore, Mike Phelan, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Lee Sharpe, Mark Hughes, Brian McClair.

• United also have one UEFA Super Cup to their name, beating FK Crvena Zvezda 1-0 in 1991.

• Chelsea collected their first piece of European silverware in 1971 when they defeated Real Madrid in a replayed UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Piraeus.

• After Dave Sexton's outfit were held 1-1 on 19 May – Peter Osgood's 56th-minute opener cancelled out by Ignacio Zoco on 90 minutes – they replayed the final 48 hours later and this time the London team came out on top. John Dempsey (31) and Osgood (39) struck before the break and although Sebastián Fleitas narrowed the deficit for Madrid, Chelsea held on.

• Chelsea's team on 21 May 1971 was:
Peter Bonetti, John Dempsey, John Boyle, Dave Webb, Ron Harris, Charlie Cooke, Alan Hudson, Keith Weller, Tommy Baldwin, Peter Osgood (Derek Smethurst 75), Peter Houseman.

• Chelsea won the same competition for the second time on 13 May 1998 after beating VfB Stuttgart 1-0 in Stockholm's Rasunda Stadium through Gianfranco Zola's 70th-minute goal.

• Gianluca Vialli was then Chelsea's player-manager and his lineup included Steve Clarke, now the club's assistant first-team coach.

• The team that night was:
Ed de Goey, Dan Petrescu, Frank Leboeuf, Steve Clarke, Gus Poyet (Eddie Newton 80), Michael Duberry, Dennis Wise, Danny Granville, Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli, Tore André Flo (Gianfranco Zola 69).

• Chelsea subsequently beat Real Madrid 1-0 to win the UEFA Super Cup.

• Grant would become the first Israeli, either player or coach, to win the European Cup. The only Israeli to have tasted victory in any UEFA club competition is Eli Ohana, who won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Belgian side KV Mechelen in 1988.

• While Chelsea manager Grant is chasing a place in history as the first Israeli to lead a team to a European trophy, Sir Alex has five to his name already. Besides his three triumphs with United, he also led Aberdeen to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 1983. Overall the Scot has guided United to 28 trophies while Grant awaits his first with the London club.

• There is a considerable gulf between the pair when it comes to experience of Europe's élite club competition: Sir Alex has overseen 151 matches, qualifiers included, with United and another 12 with Aberdeen; Grant has overseen eleven with Chelsea this season and prior to that two qualifying games with Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in 1996 and the same number with Maccabi Haifa FC in 2001.

• The head-to-head record between United and Chelsea in all competitions is: 65 wins for United, 41 for Chelsea and 44 draws.

• Although United have the superior head-to-head record, Chelsea have had the better of the sides' encounters during the last five seasons. Counting this term's FA Community Shield – won on penalties by United – as a draw, their record during this time is seven wins, five draws and two defeats.

• This is the third major final that the sides have contested. United came out on top in the first, the 1994 FA Cup final, winning 4-0 through second-half goals from Eric Cantona (two penalties), Hughes and Brian McClair. Giggs was in the United team while Chelsea coach Clarke featured for the London club.

• Chelsea reversed the tables in the 2007 FA Cup final on 19 May last year, Drogba's solitary 116th-minute strike averting penalties and denying United the league and cup double.

• The teams have met three times already this season. In the season-opening Community Shield on 5 August, Giggs (35) and Florent Malouda (45) traded goals in a 1-1 draw before United prevailed 3-0 on penalties.

• United were 2-0 winners at Old Trafford in Grant's first game as Chelsea manager on 23 September. Carlos Tévez (45) opened the scoring with his first goal for the club and Louis Saha's 90th-minute penalty secured the victory against visitors reduced to ten men for the last 58 minutes after Jon Obi Mikel's dismissal.

• Chelsea avenged that defeat with a 2-1 home win on 26 April. Ballack struck both their goals – the first on 45 minutes, the second an 86th-minute penalty – either side of Wayne Rooney's 57th-minute equaliser for United.

• United won their one previous all-English European tie against then holders Tottenham Hotspur FC in the first round of the 1963/64 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They overturned a 2-0 first-leg loss with a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford.

• Chelsea's record against English teams in Europe is P12 W5 D5 L2.

• Prior to this season's semi-final win against Liverpool, the London club had lost to the Anfield outfit in the 2005 and 2007 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, going down 1-0 on aggregate in the former, then 4-1 on penalties in the latter after a 1-1 aggregate draw. However, they also beat Arsenal in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals – drawing 1-1 at home, then winning 2-1 away – and claimed 1-0 home and away successes against Manchester City FC in the 1970/71 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-final.

• United have never scored a goal on Russian soil, firing blanks on their two previous visits there – with costly consequences on both occasions.

• They lost a UEFA Cup first-round tie against FC Torpedo Moskva in 1992/93. After successive stalemates at home and away, they succumbed 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out at Moscow's Eduard Streltsov Stadium.

• Three years later they exited the same competition at the same stage, beaten on away goals by SC Rotor Volgograd who, after holding United 0-0 at home, drew 2-2 in Manchester.

• The Luzhniki Stadium was home to United defender Nemanja Vidić for two years during his spell with Russian club FC Spartak Moskva. Vidić made 39 league appearances, scoring four goals, in the 2004 and 2005 campaigns.

• United forward Wayne Rooney found the net at the Moscow venue last October, giving England a 29th-minute lead in a UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier. However, he then conceded the penalty which allowed Russia back into the match as England went down 2-1 to a Roman Pavlyuchenko double.

• Also on the losing side that day were United defender Rio Ferdinand and Chelsea trio Joe Cole, Lampard and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

• United winger Nani got the equalising goal for former club Sporting Clube de Portugal in a 1-1 draw with Spartak at the Luzhniki Stadium in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Chelsea won their one previous match in Moscow, Arjen Robben scoring the only goal of a UEFA Champions League group stage fixture at PFC CSKA Moskva in November 2004.

• Chelsea forward Anelka struck France's opening goal in a 3-2 victory against Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium in a UEFA EURO 2000™ qualifier in October 1998.

• United duo Evra and Hargreaves are the only players in Sir Alex's squad to have faced Chelsea in Europe before. Evra played in both legs of Monaco's 5-3 aggregate victory against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League. Hargreaves was in the Bayern team defeated in the quarter-finals of the 2004/05 competition.

• Four Chelsea players have enjoyed previous success against United in the UEFA Champions League. Defenders Carvalho and Ferreira helped Porto eliminate United in the first knockout round in 2003/04, while 12 months earlier Makelele featured for Real Madrid in a quarter-final defeat of Sir Alex's men.

• Ballack made a goalscoring contribution to Bayer Leverkusen's semi-final win against United in 2001/02. He scored the first of two equalising goals in Leverkusen's 2-2 draw at Old Trafford before a 1-1 result in the return squeezed the German club through on the away goals rule.

• Should they prevail in Moscow, United will become the fourth club to have won the European Cup twice without losing a match. Ajax (1971/72 and 1994/95), Liverpool (1980/81 and 1983/84), and Milan (1988/89 and 1993/94) are the three clubs who can lay claim to that achievement already, while United managed the feat once previously in 1998/99.

• Chelsea's Drogba and Salomon Kalou are hoping to become the first winners of the European Cup from the Ivory Coast while United's Park Ji-Sung can make history in the same way for Korea Republic.

• United have lost both of their two previous penalty shoot-outs in Europe:
4-5 v Fehérvár, 1984/85 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
3-4 v Torpedo Moskva, 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round.

• Chelsea's only previous shoot-out in UEFA club competition came in the aforementioned semi-final loss to Liverpool last term.

• Moscow may seem a 'home' venue to Chelsea owner Abramovich but he was actually born more than 800 kilometres from the Russian capital in Saratov, a port city on the Volga.