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England's two leading sides, Manchester United and Chelsea, face each other
England's two leading sides, Manchester United and Chelsea, face each other in the Champions League final in Moscow on Wednesday in the competition's first ever all-English final.

The match, which kicks off at 10.45 .p.m. local time (18:45 GMT), will take place at the Luzhniki stadium. The late kick-off is due to the three hour time difference between Moscow and the U.K., and the two hour difference between the Russian capital and Western Europe.

Some 40,000 English fans are expected in the Russian capital for the match. The first fans flew into Domodedovo airport yesterday. Russian authorities have scrapped visas from May 17-25 for foreign nationals in possession of a match ticket and a valid passport.

Moscow police reported that there had been almost no trouble involving English fans on the eve of the final of Europe's most prestigious club tournament.

"Everything went calmly, there were no incidents reported apart from a minor skirmish at one of the capital's restaurants," a police source told RIA Novosti.

The English groundsman responsible for the pitch has expressed reservations over its quality, saying it was "acceptable" but not the "Rolls-Royce" of a pitch he had earlier promised. UEFA has also said that the pitch may not look as "green" as they would have wanted.

However, all the recent concerns over the state of the pitch, hooliganism, and the lack of accommodation in Moscow will go out of the window when kick-off rolls around.

Manchester United will be looking to become champions of Europe for only the third time in their illustrious history. The match falls on the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich disaster, in which 23 people, including eight members of the side, were killed in a plane crash as the team came home from a European Cup away game in Belgrade.

"For me, it works as an inspiration more than pressure," said United's Rio Ferdinand, answering a question about the anniversary at the pre-match press conference.

"There is a weakness in the European trophies we've won and I hope we can make that better," said the side's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

While Manchester United may trail Real Madrid and Liverpool in terms of European trophies, as a club they have vastly more experience than their opponents. Chelsea will be playing in their first European final, and their fans will hope that owner Roman Abramovich's homeland will bring them luck.

Chelsea manager Avram Grant, who took over from the club's charismatic former coach Jose Mourinho in 2007, has been criticized by many Chelsea supporters for the pragmatic style of play that he has imposed upon the side. He has however done something that Mourinho never accomplished - take Chelsea to a Champions League final.

"It will be a good game between two good teams," said the typically taciturn Grant at the Moscow press conference after revealing that he has portraits of "leaders" on the wall of his office at Stamford Bridge, including Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King.

Both teams went for a pre-match stroll on Red Square on Tuesday evening and were predictably met by hordes of fans seeking autographs.

Leading British bookmakers William Hill make Manchester United favorites at 7/5, while Chelsea are at 11/5.


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