One match points me to come to this conclusion: The 2007 FA Cup Final.
A horrendous match for the neutrals.
Both teams had played out a long, hard season and it was a chance to show who was the best team in England. For Chelsea it would be because they beat the newly-crowned Champions. Manchester United, because they had a chance to seal the double. But with that, the prestigious FA Cup and the honour of winning at the new Wembley at stake the two teams cancelled each other out. No real chances were created and fans were only saved by a slow trudge to penalites by a last-gasp Drogba goal.
This is what I fear will happen in Moscow. It could even be worse. No disrespect to the FA Cup but a much, much greater prize is at stake this time around.
Manchester United have played some great football this season and I firmly believe they deserve their chance in the Champions League final this year. Regardless of how much I dislike them and wanted United to face old rivals Liverpool in the final, Chelsea deserve their place as well. They get a lot of bad press, Avram Grant especially, yet they have managed to sustain a title challenge on two fronts despite apparently being in turmoil – and this from a season where they have not splashed their billions.
However, look at how United played over the two legs against Barcelona and we see that they close up and cannot play their cavalier style of football when they only have 40% of the ball. And we are all fully aware of the stale possession football that Chelsea can play.
So with Chelsea sitting on the ball not using it and Manchester United sitting back waiting for their 40%, is the Champions League Final 2008 going to be the explosive encounter we all wish for? Beaten Barca coach Frank Rijkaard thinks otherwise:
I think they [English teams] have a lot more to give on the pitch to the public. It is strange to see English teams defending for their lives in Europe and trying to win games on the counter-attack. They can do a lot more than that. They have their own spirit and can play football on the front foot.
In European games they all get behind the ball when they lose it, they are very organised and try to counter-attack. It is a pity. It is not the most beautiful way of football.