Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
This time last year I blogged from the Champions League final in Athens, mainly about the oddly circuitous routes taken by Liverpool fans just to get there.
My plan was to do the same from Moscow, but so far fans are pretty thin on the ground. With hotel prices starting at about 800 euros a night, it seems the vast majority of fans are going to come in on the day and fly back pretty much as soon as the game is finished.
At Red Square this morning there was a longish queue to get up close and personal with the trophy itself (or perhaps a replica, who knows…) but so far there’s none of the loud and beery atmosphere of Istanbul or Athens. Even the GUM department store on Red Square was empty, with the Manchester United shirts on sale at 3,150 roubles a pop not finding any buyers.
One story doing the rounds here is that the stadium might not even be full for the final. As a Russian friend put it: “Why would we want to go out to watch a match between two English teams at midnight?”
Vlog on the pitch duo Jon Bramley and Darcy Lambton think Manchester United will beat Chelsea on Wednesday but host Owen Wyatt is not so sure. (Although judging by the haircut he has already lost a bet this week.)
Who is your money on for the big clash in Moscow? Will Didier Drogba ignore the mind games and win the game just like the semi-final against Liverpool?
There have been a lot of stories lately about Avram Grant, and how he needs to prove his worth as a coach by seeing Chelsea to victory in the Champions League final on Wednesday (See Richard Williams in the Guardian for a flavour).
But Grant is far from the only one who goes into this final with something to prove or who is desperate to make amends for past disappointments.
Sir Alex Ferguson says Manchester United will go bouncing into the Champions League final after they secured the Premier League title with a 2-0 win over Wigan on Sunday.
Ferguson, understandably feeling pretty pleased, also more or less ruled out retiring even if United go on to celebrate a double with victory over Chelsea in Moscow later this month.