The biggest game this fine football has ever witnessed will kick off on Wednesday 21st May 2008 and, a mere ninety (or 120) minutes later, we’ll know if this Chelsea side will go down as one of the greats. This is where we’ve wanted to be and this is where we want to stay, on the biggest stage of all, the pinnacle of club football. Now we just have to win it.Those fans lucky enough to, one, get match tickets, two, find something resembling a hotel, and three, managed to get to Moscow without having to re-mortgage the house, are in for something special. A piece of history in the making. A chance to say, you were there when it happened. For the rest of us, on the edge of the settee watching the box, it’ll be a case of drinking as much alcohol as possible to numb those nerves. On the one hand is total joy, the other, total misery, and there can only be one winner. Such are the highs and lows of football. It’s a good job we know we can take them to the cleaners then isn’t it?
For those, like myself, having to watch the game on terrestrial, here’s a little drinking game you can enjoy to dispel the big game butterflies. Clive Tyldesley, ITV commentator and all round gimp, is a massive red. I saw him once on a programme about United (why the hell was I watching that?) and the gnome-faced moron was drooling about Cantona or something. Basically enough to make you wretch a little bit of sick up. (Really, why was I watching it?) There’s no doubting where his bias will lie on Wednesday. When he comes out with a smarmy quote it’s enough to make you kick out at the cat. If I had one. Maybe break some furniture instead, something preferably cheap and replaceable before the missus notices. Anyway, don’t worry, take that anger and replace it with fun and happiness and a high level of drunkenness. Every time Clive mentions ‘that fabulous night in Barcelona’, ‘late comebacks’ etc. then give yourself a big drink, you deserve it. Likewise a mention of Ronaldo ‘as the best player on the planet’ and take another drink. You may be too drunk. Possibly before half time, with the screen a mere blur, so try and hold back when you can. I’m going for over five mentions of the ‘99 final during the match; please feel free to send your own answers on a postcard.
Onto the game and there are concerns over the newly laid pitch but it shouldn’t worry Chelsea. The same was said at Wembley last year, we won there and we can win again in Moscow. The squad is fully fit and extremely focused and that’s not all there is to be confident about. United have had only two wins in eight games and stumbled over more fixtures than Chelsea have. We’re in form and look great, playing some nice stuff at the right time. As at Stamford Bridge last month, Chelsea play well and we’ll win. Both defences normally give little away and it would be a strange game if this changed. That’s why the first goal could be crucial and why we should press, pressure and pummel United from the first whistle. The high-octane football won us the three points a few weeks ago and some more of the same would pay dividends again.
We have to make sure that Drogba is well supported by the midfield players and we don’t allow Scholes and Carrick to dictate play. A favourite trick is Tevez or Rooney to come infield from out on the wing, dragging the full back with him, and thus creating space for the forward full back to exploit. Maka needs to marshal that, as only he can. Barca did this well often finding Messi in the space that Evra had vacated and setting up a potential break. For us, Cole, Kalou or Malouda, all have the pace and skills to make the most of the overlaps and do some damage.
This is why Ambromvich’s millions have been spent. We’ve bought some big players (Ballack, Maka, Sheva, Anelka, Carvalho, Ashley Cole) who’ve all had the big game experience of a European final. They’ve done it before and they know what is needed to do it this time. It would be fitting, and beyond special, if we could win the Champions League in Roman’s home country. Everything is set up for us to make history. Let’s go and do it.
Come on Chelsea!