Champions League Digest

 

A host of facts, figures and opinions on the Champions League Final

Euro bonanza as cup finalists cash in - report

MANCHESTER UNITED or Barcelona would earn up to €110 million by becoming European champions in Rome tonight, according to football finance experts.

That sum is the value of the Champions League trophy to the winning club in terms of prize-money plus increased squad value and sponsorship deals. Even the losing side will make at least €65 million according to Prof Simon Chadwick, who has carried out a report for Champions League sponsors Mastercard.

Chadwick’s report says Rome will benefit to the tune of €40 million from hosting the final, and the city of the winning team upwards of €13 million. Chadwick, head of the Centre for the International Business of Sport at Coventry University, said the match would be worth €310 million to the European economy. Previous research has indicated that the recession contributed to more interest in the NFL Superbowl and Chadwick expects the same thing to happen with the Champions League final as people try to escape the pessimism of the economic situation.

He believes this will lead to a “recession premium” worth around €25 million to the total from more people becoming engaged in the final as a result of the downturn.

Did you know . . . final facts

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is the Champions League’s top scorer this season with eight goals. However, he has failed to score against English opposition in 10 Champions League matches in his career.

Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Eric Abidal and Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher are suspended for the Champions League final. Carles Puyol returns from suspension.

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar will be playing in a Champions League final for the fourth time and will be only the seventh player to play in so many finals.

Van der Sar will become the third oldest person – behind Italians Dino Zoff and Paolo Maldini – to play in a European Cup/Champions League final.

Van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Wes Brown can all win the Champions League for the third time in their careers. Ten players have already achieved this.

Wayne Rooney is the only player from either squad to have played all 12 of his club’s Champions League matches this season.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson can become only the second person, after Bob Paisley, to win the European Cup/Champions League three times as head coach.

Ferguson can also equal Giovanni Trapattoni’s record of five European trophies (excluding Super Cups) as head coach.

Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola will be the third youngest coach to win the European Cup/Champions League if Barcelona finish on top. He will be the youngest winning head coach in the Champions League era if Barcelona win.

Guardiola can also become the sixth head coach to win the competition as player and head coach. Both of the previous victorious Barcelona head coaches, Johan Cruijff and Frank Rijkaard, have achieved this.

Interested onlookers . . . and players

“Like the old fox that he is, Alex Ferguson will have a surprise prepared to beat Barca. In my time at Old Trafford he used to make incredible decisions and if he used an unexpected player he would usually get it right. He is unpredictable, but his gambles almost always work out.”

Former Manchester United forward Jordi Cruyff

“It’s not easy to beat United. The key is to approach them head on. You can’t go out there with a heavy heart nor with fear, because if you do they’ll end up killing you. United suffer when they don’t have the ball, like Barca. To beat them you have to dominate possession and play without fear, with nerve.”

Liverpool goalkeeper and Barcelona-born Pepe Reina

“That hurt. I’m not sure I’d step up now.”

Dimitar Berbatov not looking forward to a penalty shoot-out after his miss against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final

“Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo. In the last match between the two teams, he was better. I hope Messi gets het up. If he is annoyed by something he is very dangerous. And I believe he is het up by the comparisons they are making. It annoys him.”

Barcelona technical secretary Txiki Begiristain

“It’s useless to make any predictions. Football is unpredictable and then Barcelona and Manchester United are two very strong teams. Without a doubt it’s going to be a beautiful game.”

Uefa president Michel Platini sitting on the fence

Paths to the final

Barcelona

Group stage

Sep 16th (h) v Sporting 3-1

Oct 1st(a) v Shakhtar 2-1

Oct 22nd(a) v Basel 5-0

Nov 4th (h) v Basel 1-1

Nov 26th (a) v Sporting 5-2

Dec 9th(h) v Shakhtar 2-3

First knockout round

Feb 24th(a) v Lyon 1-1

Mar 11th(h) v Lyon 5-2

Quarter-finals

Apr 8th(h) v Bayern Munich 4-0

Apr 14th(a) v Bayern Munich 1-1

Semi-finals

Apr 28th(h) v Chelsea 0-0

May 6th(a) v Chelsea 1-1

Manchester United

Group stage

Sep 17th(h) v Villarreal 0-0

Sep 30th(a) v AaB 3-0

Oct 21st (h) v Celtic 3-0

Nov 5th(a) v Celtic 1-1

Nov 25th(a) v Villarreal 0-0

Dec 10th(h) v AaB 2-2

First knockout round

Feb 24th(a) v Internazionale 0-0

Mar 11th(h) v Internazionale 2-0

Quarter-finals

Apr 7th(h) v Porto 2-2

Apr 15th(a) v Porto 1-0

Semi-finals

Apr 29th(h) v Arsenal 1-0

May 5th(a) v Arsenal 3-1