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Page last updated at 21:20 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 22:20 UK

Champions League final as it happened

GOALFLASHES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Caroline Cheese

2215: Noooo. Is it time to go already? I want to do it all over again (as, I imagine, do Manchester United... only differently). You've all been absolute smashers today. Give yourself winners' medals and a tickertape reception. Farewell... no, I don't want to go... no, I must... See you soon.

2211: Some things to cheer up Manchester United fans: you still won the league (for the 18th time), you still won the Carling Cup, you still won the World Club Cup, you just lost to a very special team. It's not all bad.

Get involved on 606
From Roonaldezov on 606: "We were shocking. Full stop. But Barcelona were majestic. Brilliant. Phenomenal. Every brilliant adjective I can think of. We wasted the ball so much, Carrick gave the ball away time and time again and Vidic looked shaky the whole game. And as for Rooney, that's as bad as I have ever seen him play."
Join the debate on 606

2204: If you're not a Manchester United fan, I recommend you head off to your nearest tapas bar. Don't know where it is? Just follow the noise. There will be all kinds of sensational celebrations going on tonight.

2203: Here's Danny the Stat's final thoughts... "A pretty one-sided final in the end, and the scores on the Player Rater pretty much tell the story. Whacking great scores for the Barca heroes, with Andres Iniesta (8.34), Lionel Messi (8.18) and Samuel Eto'o (8.00) all leading the way. Mostly fours and fives for United and I can tell you, fellow stat fans, that that doesn't happen very often. Note it in your stat books. After you get involved and have your say, naturally..."
Barca v Man Utd Player Rater

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Pep Guardiola is standing alone in front of the Barcelona fans raising the trophy. A true son of the club and an inspired appointment. Manchester United's players have left the stage to Barcelona and their supporters. Sir Alex Ferguson's side can be proud of their efforts this season, but tonight they had to give best to the more accomplished team. Might be a long job getting all the Barcelona supporters out of the Stadio Olimpico tonight. Great scenes and they deserve to enjoy this victory."

2200: No excuses from Rio Ferdinand either. He admits that Barcelona were the better side and that none of the United players performed.

2157: Spain now have 12 European Cups, to England's 11. That is Barcelona's third triumph in Europe's biggest club competition, Real Madrid have the other nine.

Get involved on 606
From Zaishi on 606: "We just didn't turn up. Huge respect to Barcelona for their performance, they were sublime."
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Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson: In adversity, you always move forward quicker. We can learn from this. We're still a young team and we can improve from that."

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "We started brightly and got a bit nervous after that. We had time to recover from the goal. We had some half-chances... but in fairness we were beaten by a better team. We weren't at our best after the first goal."

2151: There it goes... Carles Puyol, another of Barca's outstanding performers tonight, lifts the trophy into the air with a flourish and the gold and silver tickertape flutters down on the pogo-ing Barca players.

2150: Thierry Henry finally gets his hands on a Champions League winners' medal - and all the players are reaching out for a touch of that famous trophy.

2147: Barca president Joan Laporta leads the way for the champions. Pep Guardiola picks up his third winners' medal of an incredible maiden season as a coach, following the Spanish Cup and La Liga.

2146: Sir Alex Ferguson - who has a rueful smile on his face - leads his Manchester United players up. Fergie looks like a man who knows he has been beaten by a better side.

2145: Referee Massimo Busacca makes his way up with his assistants to receive their medals. No repeat of the semi-final controversy tonight.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Manchester United's fans try to lift their players with a final show of defiance - but even the most partisan Old Trafford follower could not mount a convincing case against Barcelona's deserved victory. Real disappointment for United after the optimism of the start, but Barcelona deserve huge credit for their free-flowing approach, the wonderful midfield pairing of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, all spearheaded by the magician Lionel Messi. And, of course, a Champions League winners' medal at last for Thierry Henry. There is a huge party starting away to my right in the Stadio Olimpico and it looks like it could go on for weeks."

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "For all this talk about Messi and Ronaldo, Iniesta was better than both of them. Ronaldo was the only one who looked up for it for us. Thoroughly disappointing."

BBC Radio 5 Live
Chris Waddle on BBC 5 Live: "After the first seven minutes, that was an absolute annihilation. If there is a better pair of midfielders than Xavi and Iniesta anywhere, I'd like to see them. They were absolutely brilliant and Man Utd couldn't get near them. I've not seen a team play like that for years and years and it is so good to see."

2140: The United players make their way over to their fans. No tears, but this isn't a hard luck story. The look more shell-shocked than anything else.

2138: The celebrations begin in the Barcelona camp, as the United players begin to take in defeat. Barcelona outclassed United tonight, and you cannot say they do not deserve this.

Full-time
2137: FULL-TIME Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd

Yellow card
2135: Andres Iniesta gets a huge ovation from the Barca fans as he leaves the pitch after a sublime performance in the Barcelona midfield. Pedro Rodriguez is on. Just after he comes on, Nemanja Vidic floors Leo Messi with an awful tackle and gets a yellow.

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From Josh in Salisbury, via text on 81111: "I've never seen a more pathetic performance of effort from Man Utd. No real instinct or direction. Barcelona have been sublime! Smooth and with a purpose . Complete opposites!"

2133: The Barca scarves are waving. We are into three minutes of added time. They can't come back now... can they?

2130: Carles Puyol gets in a vital header as a left-wing cross drifts towards Rio Ferdinand at the far post. From the corner, Dimitar Berbatov has a clear header - but gets it all wrong. Three minutes remaining, and United's grasp on the Champions League trophy is slipping.

2127: Time for the United fans to cover their ears. Their Barca rivals have started the oles as the Catalans pass the ball around with that mesmeric rhythm of theirs. Carles Puyol is sent through but Edwin van der Sar is out quickly to smother the shot and then gather the ball. Seven minutes remaining.

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From Matt from Skeg, via text on 81111: "No complaints as a Man Utd fan. We haven't turned up as we did last year. Question the line-up, question the effort. Just don't question the sublime Barca play."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Barcelona's fans are ramping up the victory celebrations here and no-one can begrudge them. After Manchester United's early surge they have been the better side and Pep Guardiola's debut season is going to be reasonably impressive. La Liga, the Spanish Cup and now, barring a meltdown, the Champions League. Messi's goal has just been show again on the giant screen and it was remarkable. A) how did such a little man jump so high and b) how did he hang there so long? Special. United's fans still behind their team, and even though they have witnessed some spectacular finishes in their time, this is surely beyond them."

Yellow card
2123: Shocking challenge by Paul Scholes on Sergio Busquets. A trademark late one by the veteran midfielder. Advantage played - but Scholes soon gets his deserved yellow.

Yellow card
2121: Cristiano Ronaldo fouls Carles Puyol and picks up a yellow card.

2118: There's only one winner in the Ronaldo-Messi battle so far. And he's not Portuguese and fond of hair gel. I won't tire of watching that Messi goal - his ninth goal of an outstanding Champions League campaign. The ball is actually behind him but he somehow manages to twist his head back. 13 minutes remaining.

2117: These are desperate times for Manchester United. Xavi heads straight at Edwin van der Sar - and the Barca fans are loving this. Paul Scholes replaces for Ryan Giggs.

2115: Manchester United break and, all of a sudden, it opens up for them. Carlos Tevez's cross eludes Ryan Giggs, but it appears to fall invitingly for Cristiano Ronaldo - only for the winger to dally too long on the chance and it is desperately cleared by the Barca defence.

Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal
2114 GOAL: Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Xavi delivers a wicked cross from the right but Lionel Messi seems to be in the air for an absolute age before he manages to direct an outstanding header into the opposite corner. And they said he couldn't score against English opposition...
Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd

2111: Wayne Rooney's cross comes off a Barcelona boot and it's a corner for Manchester United - but it's headed away at the near post. Disappointing.

2108: Dimitar Berbatov replaces Ji-Sung Park and United will now essentially play a 4-2-4. 25 minutes remaining, United still 1-0 down.
2107: Cristiano Ronaldo is the picture of frustration as he cuts in from the left. He delays the pass too long though, and loses the ball.

2106: Wayne Rooney escapes down the right, but former United defender Gerard Pique is there with a last-ditch block to concede the corner - which is just out of reach of Nemanja Vidic. Dimitar Berbatov ready for action.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Sir Alex Ferguson warned that Barcelona pair Xavi and Andres Iniesta can put you "on a carousel" with their passing - and Manchester United are getting a rough ride here. Barcelona are simply proving too good in possession for United. The Premier League champions need a spell on the ball themselves but the Catalans are in no mood to allow it. Ferguson's right hand man Mike Phelan is stalking the technical area now and United must find inspiration from somewhere and find it quickly."

2104: That's a bit better from United. Cristiano Ronaldo takes the Barca defence on, creating some space, but the move ends when Michael Carrick just over-hits the pass for Wayne Rooney.

2101: Nearly an hour gone and United still trail to that early Samuel Eto'o strike. Ryan Giggs takes a quick free-kick - but Cristiano Ronaldo is an inch offside.

2058: Finally a threat from United. Wayne Rooney crosses from the right and it takes a touch off Cristiano Ronaldo before bouncing over the desperate leap of Ji-Sung Park.

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From Adam, Halifax, via text on 81111: "The fact that Fletcher is missing stands out a mile, they are missing him a lot."

Woodwork
2054: Andres Iniesta clipped by Nemanja Vidic on the edge of the area. Xavi clatters Edwin van der Sar's left-hand post with the free-kick, which takes a slight deflection off Vidic. How are they not 2-0 up?

2053: Another mesmerising move from Barca. Samuel Eto'o tries to find Leo Messi, but the Argentine can't quite get the final touch - and claims to have been pulled back by John O'Shea. Not a whole lot of contact, I don't think. Barca threatening to run riot here.

2052: Sylvinho's cross is just in front of Samuel Eto'o and Edwin van der Sar does well to collect.

2051: Xavi releases Thierry Henry down the left with a stunning pass. The Frenchman leaves Rio Ferdinand flailing with his footwork but Edwin van der Sar gets down quickly to keep out the low shot.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at Rome: "Liverpool's fans were credited for their part in the Istanbul fightback against AC Milan in 2005 by delivering a stirring half-time rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone when they were three down, and there was real noise coming from the Manchester United supporters at the Stadio Olimpico during the interval here as they wait to try and inspire Sir Alex Ferguson's men. And the sight of Old Trafford cult hero Carlos Tevez coming on for Anderson will lift them another notch."

2048: Second half under way.

2047: Carlos Tevez, in what could be his last appearance in his United shirt, replaces Anderson. Lawro reckons Wayne Rooney will switch to the right, Ji-Sung Park on the left, with Tevez playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

2046: Carlos Tevez looks ready to come on... but Ryan Giggs is out on the pitch. Anderson?

2044: I was just thinking about 1999. You know: when United conceded an early goal in the Champions League final and were one down at half-time. Can't remember what happened next...

Get involved on 606
From red-devil-mike88 on 606: "Man United were brilliant first 10 minutes up until the goal. Man Utd had the wind belted out of them after it. Barca had confidence, Man Utd were in shock. Unlucky. I can see it going to extra time."
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BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Barcelona's half after that early assault from Manchester United - but Sir Alex Ferguson changed his system as the interval approached and that will surely be a sign of things to come after the break. Wayne Rooney was a non-influence on the margins of the game, and he was brought inside to partner Cristiano Ronaldo as United switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 with Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park on the wings. Barcelona are so comfortable in possession that the first signs of frustration were even being heard from United's fans in the closing seconds of the first half. Ferguson claimed his pre-match team talks come in a flash of inspiration in the early hours - he will need some fine words in that dressing room at half-time."

2037: For me, a major final is not a major final without a word from Danny the Statissimo... "What would you give to be Samuel Eto'o right now? Not only has the lad notched the opening goal in the Champions League final '09, he's also claimed the half-time lead on the BBC Sport Player Rater. Two accolades of almost equal value, I say. Eto'o has a whopping 8.33 - way ahead of the low-scoring United players. One caveat - this can all change, thanks to you lot and your internets. Get involved."
Barca v Man Utd Player Rater

2034: Chris Waddle wants to see Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov on in the second half in place of Ryan Giggs and Anderson. Commentator Alan Green reports that Giggs took off his captain's armband as he went down the tunnel.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Chris Waddle on BBC 5 Live: "Andres Iniesta is playing on one leg and he's still the best player on the pitch. The movement and touch by the Barcelona players is just fantastic to watch."

Half-time
2030: HALF-TIME Barcelona 1-0 Man Utd

2031: The brilliant Andres Iniesta slaloms towards the area before trying an impudent, chipped pass for Thierry Henry. It's just too high, but there's a sign of confidence.

2030: One minute of added time to be played in the first half.

2029: Andres Iniesta tries to backheel the ball through for Leo Messi, but that doesn't quite come off. Edwin van der Sar then belts his goal-kick straight out of play. Wayne Rooney looking more and more frustrated...

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Wayne Rooney has had success playing on the left flank for Manchester United, but with Barcelona currently enjoying domination in possession he is simply not getting a chance to influence this Champions League final - that has got to change. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has been given arguably the world's biggest technical area here at the Stadio Olimpico, and still can't resist stepping just those few inches outside, to a telling-off from the fourth official. He has to be happy with what he is seeing at the moment."

Text in your views on 81111
From Chris B via text on 81111: "Barcalona are cheating. There are magnets in their boots."

Get involved on 606
From stonecoldsober on 606: "Once this game gets to half time, Fergie will know exactly what to do. We are all over the place defensively, need to keep composure and most importantly, BRING ON TEVEZ."
Join the debate on 606

2020: Another corner for Barcelona, which Gerard Pique comes to meet but Nemanja Vidic just gets there first. United will be pleased to get to half-time just one goal down.

2019: Barcelona work the ball out to Carles Puyol on the right and he drives his cross straight at Nemanja Vidic - but it goes behind for a corner.

2017: United try to build patiently from the back, but Barcelona are closing down the space well. Patrice Evra eventually gets the ball out left but he scuffs a low cross straight into Victor Valdes' arms.

2013: Barca now looking very confident in possession - and really harrying United when they don't have the ball. Wayne Rooney hasn't been in the game so far.

2011: Anderson bundles into Andres Iniesta in his desperation to get the ball back as Barca knock it about in midfield. About 25 yards out, to the right of goal - and Xavi's effort is just wide.

2010: Already 25 minutes gone. This is flying by. Samuel Eto'o's goal still the difference.

Text in your views on 81111
From Paul, London, via text on 81111: "That Barcelona goal is the best thing that could have happened for the neutral, lets Barca get into their groove, and means Man Utd can't just sit back and soak it up."

2005: Victor Valdes comes haring out of his goal to beat Ji-Sung Park to the ball, the Barca keeper getting a thump on the knee for his troubles. A short break while Valdes receives treatment.

2004: Leo Messi's first telling contribution: the Argentine cuts in from the right and fires just over the top.

2002: Ryan Giggs takes it left-footed, well-struck but high and wide.

Yellow card
2001: Ryan Giggs produces a brilliant first-time pass for Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks to go past Gerard Pique but is cynically blocked by the Barca defender. Yellow card. Free-kick for United about 25 yards out.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Talk about a sucker punch. Barcelona - penned in their own half and under a barrage of shots for the first 10 minutes - emerge and score a cheap goal from Manchester United's point of view. Nemanja Vidic was too easily beaten by Samuel Eto'o and Edwin van der Sar was too easily beaten at his near post. Barcelona's fans are in ecstasy as their team is suddenly in the ascendancy and it's United who look rocky at the back. We hoped for a classic and we have the makings of one here."

1957: And now United appear to be completely rattled, giving the ball away again and again.

Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal
1956 GOAL: Yes. You have read that correctly. And it's a nightmare for United. Samuel Eto'o picks up Andres Iniesta's pass, cuts inside Nemanja Vidic with ease, and his powerful shot is enough to beat Edwin van der Sar at his near post. A goal very much against the run of play.
Barcelona 1-0 Man Utd

1953: And now Cristiano Ronaldo chests it down on the left of the area and fires a shot across goal. Three chances already for the world player of the year.

1952: Cristiano Ronaldo lets fly from distance - as he is wise to do against a nervy Victor Valdes - but his effort goes narrowly wide.

1951: Wayne Rooney tries a clever pass inside for Ryan Giggs but it drifts out of play. Barcelona, at the moment, have Samuel Eto'o down the right and Leo Messi in the middle. Academic really, because they haven't managed to get the ball that far yet.

1949: Barcelona look nervous. Very nervous. Pep Guardiola is already out of his seat and heading for his technical area.

1946: Already, Manchester United's passing looks slick. No sign of nerves as Wayne Rooney and Anderson exchange passes before Barca concede the free-kick. Cristiano Ronaldo takes it, and Victor Valdes makes an awful hash of it, scooping it out in front of him, and he's lucky Ji-Sung Park can't bury the rebound.

1945: Barcelona kick off the 2009 Champions League final.

1944: Skippers Ryan Giggs and Carles Puyol swap pennants in the centre circle, as our Swiss referee Massimo Busacca looks on.

1942: If you thought our build-up starting at 0900 BST was a bit over-the-top, it's nothing compared to what just happened on the pitch at the Stadio Olimpico. Stunning. Shall we play a football match then?

1941: Andrea Boccelli sings the Gladiator theme as the trophy is brought onto the pitch. I think I'm going to cry.

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "In Ryan Giggs, we have a flexible player - someone who can play out wide or through the middle - and I'm looking at the options we have and how we use them. He'll start through the middle, though, supporting Cristiano up front. We also have a very strong bench, which could be a deciding factor, hopefully. It's difficult to leave such great players out - Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov, Carlos Tevez - but they can still make a difference if they come on."

1937: This is tremendous stuff. Still no idea what it all means, but I love it. A man dressed as a gladiator has fireworks coming out of his hands! And now the ladies are shuffling about and making clever shapes on the pitch.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Uefa president Michel Platini is swiftly made aware that he is not the most popular man in England when he is roundly jeered by Manchester United fans as his face flashes on the giant screens as he greets dignitaries, including Football Association President Prince William and FA chairman Lord Triesman."

1935: What's this? Lots of ladies in floaty red dresses, holding bronze shields, walking around the centre circle. I'm saying it as I see it. No idea what it all means.

1931: There's Prince William, just cramming the last bit of pie into his mouth. That's not true. Prince William is there though.

1927: If you're reading this on the website in the UK and you manually refresh this page (should you remember how to do that), you'll see a link to BBC 5 Live's commentary at the top of this page. Magic.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Manchester United are first out and last in for the warm-up. Sir Alex Ferguson's side are out on the Stadio Olimpico pitch for considerably longer than Barcelona. They are presumably getting used to the surface that is causing so much interest for Barca coach Pep Guardiola - and with England coach Fabio Capello looking on."

Text in your views on 81111
From Phill, on my way home to Dubai, via text on 81111: "I'm following the build up from the departure lounge at Heathrow. I board at 7.45. Didn't think this one through, did I?"

1920: BBC 5 Live's Alan Green fears that Gary Neville's playing career "doesn't have very far to go". The right-back doesn't even make the bench tonight, making it all the more odd that the 34-year-old has been called up by England boss Fabio Capello...
Capello calls up Neville

1918: The Barcelona players have a huddle after completing their warm-up on the pitch. Sounds like a cracking atmosphere in Rome.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Manchester United are first to emerge for the pre-match warm-up - to a deafening reception from both sets of supporters and the playing of Glory Glory Man United over the loudspeakers. Great joy for Ji-Sung Park, who starts tonight after missing out last year. United are swiftly followed by Barcelona and one thing is already evident: this will not be a quiet night."

Text in your views on 81111
From Mo A via text on 81111: "My girls are all Man U fans and waiting for the game to start. As my five-year-old said: 'Get it near the goal and kick it in'."

1906: Ever wondered what BBC Radio 1 sports reporter David Garrido's football skills are like? Wonder no more...
Watch Radio 1 Newsbeat in Rome

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
1904: "Barcelona have struck a crucial psychological blow ahead of kick-off - or maybe they haven't. They have emerged victorious from a bizarre 'It's A Knockout' style game which involved two fans kicking a giant football around the Stadio Olimpico. Not sure this contributed to the dignity of the occasion - where's Stuart Hall when you need him? The faces of Manchester United's players flashed up on the giant screens as they arrived at the stadium, with Cristiano Ronaldo provoking a hostile response from Barcelona's fans."

1900: This is going too quickly now. I want more build-up! You want a potential omen? Sir Alex Ferguson's horse, Last Three Minutes, won the 5.15pm at Lingfield Park at odds of 5-2. Last Three Minutes... what can that refer to?

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "The Stadio Olimpico is a splash of colour as Manchester United and Barcelona fans take part in something intriguingly called a 'Whoop Quiz'. Tough old questions these. No prizes - and I can guarantee that - for answering this tricky little poser given to the United fans - 'Who scored Manchester United's winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final?'"

1852: Not even an hour to go now. Not even an hour. I am beyond excitement.

1846: TEAMS
Barcelona: Valdes, Puyol, Toure, Pique, Sylvinho, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Eto'o, Henry. Subs: Pinto, Caceres, Gudjohnsen, Krkic, Keita, Rodriguez, Muniesa.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Park, Ronaldo, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Berbatov, Nani, Scholes, Rafael, Evans, Tevez.

1841: BBC 5 Live's Alan Green reckons he knows the teams - but I should stress this is not official. Greeny says Rio is fit, while Ryan Giggs replaces Darren Fletcher in the only change from the team that played Arsenal in the semi-finals. Barcelona go with Sylvinho at right-back because Seydou Keita has "talked himself out of it". Keita will be on the bench, says Green, with Sergi Busquets playing the holding midfield role. Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta start.

1836: Au contraire, Kelly. I don't think anyone is expecting a goalfest. A match being dubbed the 'dream final' is almost certain to be a drab affair settled by one goal. But it has the potential to be a sensational game, and that's what we're all hoping for right?
Text in your views on 81111
From Kelly in Huddersfield, via text on 81111: "Everyone is expecting a goalfest but I think 1-0 Man U, goal inside 10 mins, scored by Evra then Man U will shut up shop"

From Anon via text on 81111: "Cheese! Disaster! The girls in my house want to watch the Apprentice and we've only got one TV! I feel a massive fallout might be coming, what do you suggest?"
Tell them Thierry Henry is playing. Believe me, they'll soon change their tune.

Text in your views on 81111
From Gareth in Plymouth, via text on 81111: "Re 1734: I wouldn't be surprised if Scholes got the nod along side Carrick and Anderson. Park will surely play on the left to look after Messi."

1821: You know that question I posed at 1707 BST? Apprentice or Champions League final? There's only one answer in the Terry household. "I'll probably flick and see what the score is at half-time and full-time," says the Chelsea skipper. "But it's just me. I get angry watching."
Terry - I can't bear to watch

BBC Radio 5 Live
Chris Waddle on BBC 5 Live: "I think you'll see Man United play very cagey, sit deep and play on the counter-attack. Barca only play one way and they will dominate possession. I can see Thierry Henry being the key if Barca are going to get behind United's defence."

1808: Wonder what Sir Alex Ferguson will say to his team before they head out onto the pitch. He's keeping those particular cards very close to his chest. "I haven't thought about it. These things usually come to me during the night, at about three in the morning when I try to get some inspiration from the deep chamber of my tiny, little brain."
Ferguson's pre-match news conference

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "The state of the Stadio Olimpico pitch is already providing food for thought for Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. He is keen to ensure it suits his side's slick passing approach - and was clearly fearful that Rome's fierce heat might make the playing surface too dry. He is desperately keen to see it well-watered and called on Uefa to ensure it was, saying: 'This would favour football. It should be obligatory to have a wet pitch. We mustn't forget that we are playing for people and I hope that the organisers are listening.'"
Text in your views on 81111
From Jon in Salford via text on 81111: "Going to watch the game with my dad tonight. It was priceless last year. After John Terry missed his penalty, a new flat screen TV got knocked off its table after some excited finger pointing. More of the same tonight please Dad."
1800: Getting closer. One hour and 45 minutes remaining. Tick, tock, tick, tock.
Text in your views on 81111
From Dave from Wirral via text on 81111: "Never EVER been so nervous and yet anticipated a football match in my life! Really hoping for a magical game of football that will be remembered for years to come! Let's win the trophy United!!!"
1752: If you're wondering who this Lionel Messi is we speak of... well, you probably don't like football an awful lot and you won't be reading this. But anyway, our man in South America Tim Vickery has put everything you need to know about the Argentine magician into a handy blog...
Tim Vickery blog

Text in your views on 81111
From Calum in Northern Ireland, via text on 81111: "Chance for Ronaldo and Messi to elevate themselves alongside the likes of Zidane and Ronaldo of Brazil tonight. Truly great players leave their imprint on major finals."

1747: This is a bit of a cliche. Me bringing you a quote from a tennis player - but it's relevant, I promise. World number three Andy Murray, who trained in Barcelona as a kid, has this to say on the key to tonight's game: "It will probably be the set pieces. I think in the big matches Manchester United have got the edge in that department because they have the slightly bigger team."

Text in your views on 81111
From Rick and the boys in the Hadfield, via text on 81111: "Been camping out in the pub for an hour already! Hands shaking so much we're finding it difficult to hold our pints. Food has been served and the screen has just been rolled down! Come on United!"

Get involved on 606
From fourfootedchallenge on 606: "Re 1734: That's what Fergie wants you to think. Prepare to see Park play in the Fletcher role, and Berbatov up front."
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1734: Manchester United's team will surely look like this: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Park, Ronaldo, Rooney. Right?

From Benzeguero on 606: "I think there's a very small, tiny, minute difference between Heinze, Cannavaro, Pepe and Evra, Rio, Vidic. Messi in the centre, he won't hack it physically. Vidic will eat him alive. He would be better staying on the flanks and leave the real man's job, to the best of the best, RONALDO!!!"
Join the debate on 606

Get involved on 606
From Juan in Seattle on 606: "Re 1721: The twist is that Messi will play in the middle in front of Xavi and Iniesta. He will rip Man U apart like he did against Real."
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BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome:"Re 1717: Sorry everyone. Of course I meant Dimitar Berbatov. I blame the heat - that and over-excitement!"

1721: Now, as you know by now, I don't predict scorelines, that is very much Stevo's bag (see 1600 entry). However, I do like to predict teams and here's my Barca line-up: Valdes, Puyol, Toure, Pique, Keita, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Eto'o, Henry.

1717: Surely Wayne Rooney won't be left out? I think Phil might have meant Dimitar Berbatov there.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Big debating point among Manchester United fans in Rome today is what role Ji-Sung Park will play tonight - and will it be to the exclusion of Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney? Sir Alex Ferguson loves Park's energy and was bitterly upset at having to leave him out of last year's final against Chelsea. There is a feeling he might even start tonight and Ferguson made his admiration for Park clear at his press conference saying: 'He has a fantastic understanding of space. He is different from players like Messi or Ronaldo, who want the ball all of the time. Ji-Sung doesn't need the ball.'"

1709: Haha. I'm joking of course. How you doing then? Nervous? Excited? Scared? Non-plussed? I haven't looked forward to a game this much in a very long time. And yes, I know, in all probability, it's not going to live up to expectations - but I don't care, I'm just enjoying this feeling of anticipation.

1707: Hmmmm… Champions League final or Apprentice… Champions League final or Apprentice… (PS do me a little favour everyone and give this page a manual refresh. Otherwise I look like my name's Jonathan Stevenson. And it's not. More's the pity.)

By Jonathan Stevenson

1700: It's time for me to go. I'm tired, emotional, and for some reason, my fingers appear to be bleeding (I made that last bit up). Thanks ever so much for all your company today, and have an absolutely belting evening, wherever you watch the game. It's a delight to be able to hand over to the only person capable of telling the story of the 2009 Champions League final. I love you, and I leave you.

1655: Since Barca beat Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, they have only won once in eight games against English opposition. Can they turn that recent record around with victory on the biggest stage of all tonight?

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From Chris, Plymouth, via text on 81111: "I think the suggested Man Utd line-up is much weaker than last year's, particularly in midfield. How Ji-Sung Park could play ahead of Carlos Tevez is beyond me."

1645: We're getting perilously close now. In three hours time in the Stadio Olimpico, Barcelona and Manchester United will get under way perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated club football match in history. They are the only two teams in the world who can live up to the billing.

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From jervisd on 606: "No Carlos Tevez and no Dimitar Berbatov tonight. Ji-Sung Park on the right, Wayne Rooney on the left with Cristiano Ronaldo up front is the best way to counter-attack. If only we had Darren Fletcher for his energy in midfield."
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BBC Sport's Chris Whyatt in Rome: "Far more Barca fans than United at St Peter's Square, though none of them look like they're saying any prayers for tonight. Plenty of court jester hats and Catalan neckerchiefs. The Rooney family are here, though, keeping it very low key. No sign of Pope Benedict... wonder if he has a match ticket?"

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand: "Myself, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick were sitting in our dressing room in Moscow saying it was the best thing ever and that we had to come back and do it again. It was a dream to come back really, but it has become a reality and that's because of the players and the people that I have got around me."

1630: So, who starts for Manchester United tonight? Dimitar Berbatov? Carlos Tevez? Neither? I wonder if Jordi Cruyff was right, earlier. I wonder if Sir Alex Ferguson is going to make a maverick selection decision. Federico Macheda?

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty at the Stadio Olimpico: "Just arrived at the Stadio Olimpico with more than three hours until kick-off and thousands of fans are already swarming the place and gathering on bridges near the stadium. Fans are mingling happily together in the late afternoon sunshine. An Italian DJ is blasting out Coldplay at full volume - despite this they all seem to be enjoying themselves. Me? Bruce Springsteen every time."

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From Bi, Liverpool supporter from Oxford, via text on 81111: "In response to Kyle's text about one-dimensional Barca, if their game comes off it's breathtaking, but if it doesn't, you feel they have no Plan B. Unfortunatley I think this weakness means United will win 1-0 or 2-1 tonight."

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo: "It's normal that people speak about me but I am 100% focused on this game. I will try to help my team 100%, score a goal and win the game. That's it."

1614: Those reports linking Manchester United with a move for Bayern Munich's French flier Franck Ribery refuse to go away. Though surely he would only be an option for United (and and expensive one, if the rumours are to be believed) if Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid? Bayern are said to want £60m. Anything less would be daylight Ribery, apparently... (I'll never get bored of that one)

Man Utd's Patrice Evra: "Lionel Messi is massive. I won my personal battle with him last year, but he is not the same player and he is hungry. I will be another difficult night for me, I know. I have respect for him, but I am confident."

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From musama91 on 606: "See 1552 - I totally agree, the chances of getting into the final and playing in one are small enough as it is. Michael Ballack had to miss the World Cup final in 2002 through suspension and that was outrageous. All cards and club ties should be rescinded for cup finals."
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1600: Stevo's Predo: FC Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United (aet)

1600: You've got an hour left of me. Seems like a long time, eh? Cheesy is going through her warming up routine as I type these very words.

Barca technical secretary Txiki Begiristain: "It's a unique opportunity in the club's history and the team have to be aware of it and enjoy it. As for Messi, he's better than Ronaldo. I hope he gets het up - if he is annoyed by something he is very dangerous. And I believe he is annoyed by the comparisons they are making. It annoys him."

1552: So Barca's Eric Abidal and Dani Alves and Man Utd's Darren Fletcher are all banned for tonight. They join Juve's Pavel Nedved in 2003, Leverkusen's Ze Roberto in 2002, Valencia's Amedeo Carboni in 2000, United's Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in 1999, Ajax's Michael Reiziger and Juve's Mateo Carrera in 1996 and Milan's Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta in 1994 in missing the Champs Lge final through suspension. Personally, I think it's pathetic that they have to miss the game.

Chelsea captain John Terry on BBC Radio 5 Live: "I might flick and see the score at half-time or full-time. If I don't watch it then I'll probably bath my kids and have an early night I think."

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From Kyle Servera, Falkirk, via text on 81111: "To call Barca one-dimensional is almost blasphemy. How can a team which plays such beautiful, attacking football be criticised? The best form of defence is attack, so they say, so in that case it's fair to say that Barcelona have the best defence in the world, no? I predict a 3-2 win to Barca tonight. Man Utd are awesome, I just believe the Blaugranas to be better."

Ex-Barca striker Gary Lineker: "I would go for United purely for the fact they are stronger defensively. United will probably play tighter than Barcelona and try and hit them on the break and that's where I think they may overcome them. But Lionel Messi is just incredible and he could go on to become the greatest player ever."
Watch: Gary Lineker interview

Liverpool's former Barca keeper Pepe Reina: "You cannot play against United with a heavy heart nor 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. I want Barca to win of course."

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From I want curly hair too on 606: "I think Evra will keep Messi very quiet tonight. Messi, as we all know, cuts inside nearly every time and this suits Evra. When I watch him play I often notice the Frenchman shows opponents inside, and he finds it harder when wingers take him on the outside. Anyway, my prediction is 2-0 to United."
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1525: Things happening update: 35 minutes until predo o'clock; 95 minutes until Cheesy o'clock; 260 minutes until kick-off o'clock.

Former Barcelona boss Terry 'El Tel' Venables: "I think the expectancy from everyone has just gone right through the roof because of what's capable of happening tonight. But I think United will win and they might even surprise people in doing so. They should go for their throats right from the start."

1519: Sir Alex Ferguson wants Manchester United to join the greats of the game by retaining the European Cup. Here are the teams that have already achieved that feat: Real Madrid, Benfica, Inter Milan, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and AC Milan. Makes you so proud, doesn't it?

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas: "Andres Iniesta is a very good friend of mine - and for me he is one of the top three players in the world right now. He's a complete midfielder and I'm really happy for him because he's a quiet guy and never wants fame for himself, so he deserves his success."

1511: A year ago I was in Moscow, wandering the streets, counting down the minutes until kick-off. Everyone was expecting a rubbish game, but it turned into a bit of a cracker in the end. If you're in Rome, do you feel we're on the brink of something very special?

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From Dave, Notts, via text on 81111: "I've been playing on Pro Evolution Soccer for the past hour with the predicted line-ups for the game tonight. Carlos Tevez has come on to score the winner three times!"

1504: What a job Senor Guardiola has done in his first season at the Camp Nou. He has wrapped up a domestic league and cup double and his Barca team tonight are trying to become the first Spanish side to ever win the treble. He is also the first rookie coach to reach this showpiece final since Real Madrid's Vincente del Bosque in 2000.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola: "I want the players to realise they are playing in front of the whole world. I want them to feel good, be daring and play beautiful football. I want them to show that we deserve to be European champions."

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From akafergiesboy on 606: "Am I the only fan who believes that United should start Tevez? Surely against an ageing Barca defence, Tevez's finishing nicks him a place in the starting line-up instead of Park?"
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1451: Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 25 matches in the Champions League, which is by far and away a competition record. Their last defeat? At the hands of a Kaka-inspired AC Milan, more than two years ago.

Barcelona striker Thierry Henry: "I've definitely changed opinions about me this season. Now I feel the affection of the Camp Nou fans. This is a club where, to triumph, you have to understand not only the fans but the club., the city and the fact that Catalonia is not Spain. That took me too long to realise when I arrived."

1442: Who doesn't love Henrik Larsson? That's not a rhetorical question - the answer is nobody. Nobody at all. Here's the ex-Barca and Man Utd great: "It's hard to compare Pep Guardiola and Sir Alex Ferguson. What they have in common is a passion for the game. They love it very much and that's why Sir Alex is still at United. Guardiola is still learning his trade but he has some marvellous players to work with. Sir Alex is right up the with the greats. I learnt so much in the 10 weeks I was there. His passion for the game is fantastic."
Watch: Henrik Larsson interview

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From Anon, via text on 81111: "Thierry Henry to win it for Barca. For him to be given neither World nor European Player of the Year during his pomp was a farcical oversight. One of the great players of this generation, he deserves one of the great accolades. He likes scoring against United as well..."

1433: Want to know who has won the European Cup and how many times in its glorious 54-year history? Then check out our handy map of, er, who has won it and, er, how many times...
Map: Who has won the European Cup?

1429: Edwin van der Sar, 38, will become the third oldest player to play in a European Cup final tonight after Italians Dino Zoff and Paolo Maldini. Incredibly, Maldini - who eventually retires at the end of the season - has played in six finals during his wonderful AC Milan career.

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From MrSpoony on 606: "Today we will expose Barcelona as the one dimensional wonders they are. A great team has to be able to play in many ways. We've seen United dominate midfield passing, play with pace and a style the world envies, put up a brick wall the Arsenal of old would be proud of, and win games in the blink of an eye with individual brilliance. Barcelona are not the same all round quality, and we will see that tonight."
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Manchester United fan on the BBC News Channel: "We will pay £1000 for a ticket, but we haven't seen any being sold in Rome."

European Cup winner Marcel Desailly: "Wayne Rooney is a world-class player - he is among the elite, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But as a team, Barcelona have a bit extra. They can hold their shape from beginning to end and I think they'll win."

1412: You know, I'd be surprised if there were many matches in the history of this beautiful game of ours in which the neutral football fan had such a big emotional investment. Not so much in the outcome of the game, but the manner in which that outcome is achieved. I know I'm praying for an open, attacking game full of breathtaking football, and I know a lot of you are too.

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From Ben, a Man Utd fan at work, via text on 81111: "I was born in 1985 and my father raised me in the traditions of Manchester United. I had tears in my eyes that night in 1999, minutes from losing and we pulled it back. My dad was in the stands that night and I remember that right at that moment, at 13 years of age, I realised that what I was watching was very special. I truly hope United can beat a brilliant Barca tonight and really become the greatest of all."

1405: To prevent another panic, keep those texts and 606 messages coming in. Don't go missing on me now, more than five hours of the way through my Cheesy warm-up chat. Mobile missives to 81111, remember, and get involved in the debate on 606.
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1401: OK, I'm having a minor panic. What if it isn't a great game? I mean, what if, after all this hype, it just turns out to be a bit average? I don't think I could bear it. Breathe, son, breathe. It's Barcelona v Manchester United in the Champions League final. In five hours and 44 minutes. Of course it's gonna be awesome. Panic over.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Barcelona's hotel is swarming with supporters who have gathered outside - although a barrier has been erected to keep them from getting too close to the Catalan squad. No giving the location away, but it is fair to say they are not in a secluded spot. They will get a fantastic send off when they leave for the Stadio Olimpico. A Roman Gladiator has just strolled past me towards the reception area of our hotel. I am not sure he is a real Gladiator though - my suspicions have been aroused by the Manchester United "18 Times" t-shirt, a broken arm in a plaster cast, and the good arm carrying what looked suspiciously like alcoholic beverages."

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From gallantajala on 606: "United will not dare come out to play against Barcelona, they will rely on the counter-attack, exposing the hollowness of the claim that they are a better footballing team. Regardless of what the English media might say, the really great teams do not rely on ambushes to triumph. Brazil, the great Madrid team, the Ajax of Johan Cruyff or the Liverpool of Paisley and Shankly went out to engage their opponents, regardless of their status."
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Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar: "As a goalkeeper, you always expect every team to give you nightmares. But we have experience, we know how big the game is. Let's hope that gives us an advantage."

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose in Rome: "When I spoke to chief executive David Gill at the team hotel, the Glazer brothers mingled in the foyer with not a hint of trouble. Hard to imagine that four years ago, they had to be virtually smuggled out of Old Trafford and many fans deserted the club in protest. Gill, who himself opposed the takeover, now sees the club's American owners as central to lifting United from the 'nadir' (his word) of the protests and relative lack of success the club was going through in 2005."
Read: Mihir Bose's blog

1342: At 1600 BST, I'll do a predo. It's only fair to give the bookies proper warning, don't you think?

Sir Alex Ferguson on Man United playing in white, the same colours Real Madrid were in when Barca thrashed them 6-2 only 25 days ago: "We're very happy to be playing in white, and we are better than Madrid! That wasn't just a defeat, that was an annihilation."

1335: Talking of Lionel Messi - he's the top scorer in the Champions League this season, you know. He's bagged eight goals, but he's only had 11 shots on target, a remarkable ratio. There are 15 players who have had more shots on target than the Argentine, but this boy passes the ball into the net. Cristiano Ronaldo has had the most shots on target - 32, along with another 21 that have sailed wide.

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From Anon, via text on 81111: "Sat in Rome having a latte, lasagne and watching the worlds most beautiful girls walk by... good times!! Oh, and there's a match later I think :)"

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi: "Cristiano Ronaldo is a player I'd pay to watch. He and I are very different, but he is unbelievable, very special. As for me, I have no desire to ever leave Barca. I owe them so much. The doctors at home in Argentina told my parents I would never grow past 4ft 5in. Nobody took a chance on me apart from Barcelona. I want to repay them for the rest of my career."

1321: Apology number two of the day: the system's ground to a halt again. Sorry about this - but trust me, you are definitely not more frustrated than I am. Grrrrrrr.

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From redandblackT1899 on 606: "With all the talk about Xavi and Iniesta, may I present the case of Michael Carrick? Just an absolutely wonderful player, who has the ability to screen and defend allied to his wonderful range of passing. Reminds me of Demetrio Albertini in his prime. He will be key in midfield for United tonight."
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1309: You'll be delighted to learn that I'm over halfway through now, which means, far more crucially, that there are less than four hours until Caroline Cheese steps in to the live text chair. Are you more excited by that or the game? Honestly?

BBC Sport's Chris Whyatt in Rome: "Somerset Reds, Crewe Reds, Birmingham Reds... more conspicuous are the Manchester majority as the Milan via Florence train slides down the zip of Italy to Roma termini. Spirits are high - for those with tickets. Frantic frowns make the have-nots easily identifiable."

Wayne Rooney on BBC Radio 5 Live: "Barcelona are one of the most attractive and exciting teams in Europe so it'll be a difficult night. Lionel Messi is an amazing player. He's so quick, his control is unbelievable and he scores goals. In my eyes he's one of the best."
Listen: Wayne Rooney interview

1256: If actual live sport floats your boat (perish the thought), why not check out day four of the French Open from Paris? Bevo is the tennis text king today, and he's just watched Andy Murray dump out the superbly-named Potito Starace in the second round. But he's not going anywhere. Neither am I, in fairness.
Live text: French Open tennis

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From Johaldo, Luton, via text on 81111: "Have you ever seen a team line up with TWO players in exactly the same position? Then watch Rooney also play at left-back to support Evra. That's the respect Fergie is talking about with regard to Messi."

1247: How could you not want to watch Sir Bobby Charlton talking about Sir Alex Ferguson? It's knight of the realm o'clock. Here's the video of the great man on the great man...
Watch: Charlton on Ferguson

BBC sports news correspondent James Pearce in Rome: "There are many fans around the Colosseum doing the tourist thing. Some are getting pictures taken with the gladiators."

1239: You probably won't be surprised to learn that Sir Alex Ferguson has been named Barclays manager of the year, with Nemanja Vidic winning the player award. A timely boost for the duo, ahead of this evening.

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From super_stevie_f on 606: "See 1225: I think following live text commentary in a car has now become safer due to the new auto refresh function. No need to concentrate on the road and press F5 at the same time any more!"
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1230: Just how has Sir Alex Ferguson recovered from a series of setbacks in Europe to lead his team to a semi-final and two finals in the last three seasons? My colleague Mike Henson did a little bit of research to find out...
Feature: How Man Utd mastered Europe

1225: News just in: listening to radio commentary of football matches while driving can be dangerous, according to a study by scientists at the University of Leicester. I wonder whether they examined the dangers of live text commentary?

Sir Alex Ferguson: "Lionel Messi is a fantastic footballer, but we think we have the players to cope. You have to respect great players, and we will definitely respect him. He and Cristiano Ronaldo are two fantastic footballers and they have courage in abundance, the courage to keep getting up after getting fouled and keep running at defenders. It's not easy."

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From Jon Galloway, via text on 81111: "I have just seen Gareth Barry getting out of a taxi at Anfield, oh wait, wrong text..."

1210: So much Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo chat - so try this stat on for size: Messi has failed to score against English opposition in 10 Champions League matches in his career; less well-known is that Ronaldo has failed to score in his six games against Spanish opposition. Still think they're the best two players in the world? Yeah, me too.

1204: It's remarkable to think that it's 10 years and a day since THAT night at the Camp Nou, when Manchester United broke Bayern Munich hearts with two ridiculously dramatically late goals to win the Champions League. My colleague Saj Chowdhury caught up with the Bayern keeper that day, Oliver Kahn, if you're interested...
Feature: Kahn's Champions League nightmare

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From redUnitedAsh on 606: "Apparently Owen Hargreaves was seen training yesterday... is this the surprise that Jordi Cryuff is referring to? Hargreaves would be a perfect replacement for Darren Fletcher."
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1155: You know, it's a safe bet that Barca coach Pep Guardiola, unflustered though he always comes across, has had nightmares about Man Utd's third goal against Arsenal in the second leg at the Emirates. The sheer speed of the counter-attack was almost beyond belief and with a patched-up rearguard, Pep will be concerned about getting caught out tonight.
Report: Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd (agg 1-4)

Ex-Man Utd and Barca star Jordi Cruyff: "Like the old fox that he is, Sir Alex Ferguson will have a surprise prepared to beat Barca. He is unpredictable, but his gambles always work out."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi have dominated the build-up to this Champions League final - and they are also dominating the shirt sales if a stroll around Rome and its historic landmarks is anything to go by. The red number seven and the Barca 10 are everywhere. Sir Alex Ferguson underscores their potential effect in tonight's match programme when he says: "Messi and Ronaldo can change a game and counter the impact of any coaches." Just one more thing. As Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola left his press conference at the Stadio Olimpico last night he was warmly embraced by quite a few Catalan journalists. I wonder if Sir Alex was hurt he never got the same treatment from the British media?"

1142: And the winner is (drumroll, please)... Anonymous! Way to ruin the game for everyone. The first correct named guess was from Fred in Nottingham, therefore our champion by default. Those five were, obviously, Mark Hughes, Jordi Cruyff, Laurent Blanc, Henrik Larsson and Gerard Pique.

1137: Quick quiz question: Name the five players who have represented Barcelona and Manchester United. First text to 81111 wins, er, absolutely nothing. Except bragging rights over everyone else, and an honourable mention, of course.

1134: I'm pretty sure a lot of the chat today will centre on Barcelona and their very specialised brand of football. Some love it, some hate it - hey, I'm not here to judge, you can think what the hell you want. Personally, it's no secret that I greatly admire their commitment to attacking football, but I am also aware that last season, in trying to play the same way, they looked hopelessly short of ideas and quality at times. When they get it right, however (hello, shameless plug)...
Feature: The men who make Barca beautiful

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From Kevin, Wales, via text on 81111: "My stomach feels in knots, a bit like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dribbled their way around my insides. United to win, but Barca will score."

1125: Can you wait another 500 minutes for the Champions League final to begin? Me neither. Aaaaaarrrggghhh.

1120: People, people, people. I'm getting texts saying some of you have to revise tonight. I just don't even know where to begin with that chat. In 10 years' time, what is going to matter more? That you got an extra mark in your Chemistry GCSE, or that you paid full attention to the greatest Champions League final of all? You don't have to study to answer that one - you can have it for free.

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From RasDam on 606: "Thierry Henry has never scored in a final and I can't see that changing tonight. I haven't seen Lionel Messi perform against a top quality full-back and Patrice Evra is the best of them all. He may as well walk right in to Evra's pocket. Nemanja Vidic has Samuel Eto'o's number and you shouldn't expect much from a half-fit Andres Iniesta. The Barcelona backline lacks height and pace, which Cristiano Ronaldo will exploit. I fully expect a United victory."
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1112: Rather than take the two-and-a-half hour flight from the UK to Rome, Newsbeat's Duncan Middleton joins two coach loads of Manchester United fans for a 30-hour road trip across Europe for the Champions League final. Watch it right here...
Watch: Newsbeat on the road with Man Utd fans

1107: There's other stuff going on today, apparently. Bit rude, isn't it? Sunderland have confirmed that American businessman Ellis Short is to assume 100% control of the club. The Black Cats are also being heavily linked with a move for Wigan boss Steve Bruce. Hang on, I thought he was a dyed-in-the-wool Geordie?
Bruce cleared to meet Sunderland

1104: Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expects Barca to win tonight: "Yes, now is the moment in which I believe Barcelona has the best team in history. And they will win playing very well."

Football legend Johan Cruyff: "Manchester United play good, daring football and it will be a great spectacle. The suspensions of Daniel Alves and Eric Abidal hurt Barca more than Darren Fletcher's hurts United because if you look at the English team's bench, you can see they have the stronger squad."

Sir Bobby Charlton tells BBC Sport he regards Sir Alex Ferguson as the greatest British manager: "I've seen Sir Alex at close quarters more than anyone else, so I think with his record I would have to say yes. Not only what he's done at Manchester United but the influence he has on other young managers - there are lots and lots of young managers who dream of achieving what Sir Alex Ferguson has done."

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Rome is a magnet for stars past and present today, and former Manchester United players Lou Macari and Pat Crerand were among the early arrivals at the Stadio Olimpico hoping to witness a second successive Champions League win for United. The legendary Luis Figo is also in town and mingling with thousands of fans - but who will he be supporting? Figo has his one-time Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo playing for United and of course he once starred for Barcelona - but as a man who once had a pig's head thrown at him because he left the Camp Nou for Real Madrid, I reckon he'll be backing United."

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From James, Manchester, via text on 81111: "United haven't played particularly fantastic football to get to the final this year, with the exception of the Arsenal matches, but here we are, second year in a row. I believe we have the mentality to make history, with Wayne Rooney the key figure tonight."

1042: Barcelona, as the designated "home" team tonight, have opted to wear their traditional blue and red shirts. Manchester United will play in an all-white kit - as they did in Rotterdam in 1991 when they beat Barca in the European Cup Winners' Cup. Believe in omens?

England coach Fabio Capello: "You are talking about two teams loaded with top-class players, all of them capable of deciding the outcome with a single move. They are the two most entertaining teams in the world and let's hope that the final will be entertaining too."

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From ArgieWizard on 606: "He scored the most important goal of their campaign against Chelsea and I feel if Barcelona win tonight, it will be Andres Iniesta who will be heralded. If Kaka is one of the best three players in the world, what does that make Iniesta who is, quite simply, phenomenal?"
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1030: Hmm... that didn't seem to work very well, did it? If you manually refresh, the David Gill video appears fine - but the auto refresh seems to have something against it. We live and learn.

Man Utd still keen on Tevez deal

1025: There's a very real chance that any involvement Carlos Tevez has tonight could be his last in a Manchester United shirt. The Argentine has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford as his two-year loan spell is about to run out. Chief exec David Gill says United aren't willing to pay the £25.5m transfer fee they agreed with Tevez's owners when he began his stint at the club and it's hard to disagree with him - there is a recession, after all. Watch Gill and find out more.

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From James, Bournemouth, via text on 81111: "Stevo, I'm nervous as hell for tonight's game, can't concentrate at work! I've been a United fan for 25 years, lived in Barcelona for three years and my missus is a Catalan who'll be cheering on Barca! I have a nasty feeling it's Barca's year this year, just hope I'm wrong. Champers is on ice as either me or the missus will be celebrating. Come on United, make history!"

1015: No Real Madrid tonight, but it'll still be a right royal occasion at the Stadio Olimpico, with Prince William in attendance in his capacity as Football Association president. Ahead of kick-off, he will be granted an audience with King Juan Carlos of Spain.

1011: Apology number one of the day: our system is a little slow this morning, so please bear with me if the updates are a bit less regular than you're used to. We'll beat it, I promise.

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From Mutt on 606: "For some reason, I'm not that nervous about tonight's game. I'm confident United can go out and win comfortably. I think we have the better defence. And I think we can keep their big players kinda quiet too."
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1000: It is the dream final, the contest every neutral in the world wanted to see, and I make no apology to Arsenal or Chelsea fans for saying so. These are the two best teams in the world right now, make no mistake about that, and if the game lives up to expectations it could be one of the greatest finals in living memory.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty in Rome: "Morning from Rome. Nowhere near as sweltering as yesterday and even a few clouds in the sky, which has got to be good news for Manchester United. As if we needed reminding of what is awaiting us tonight, there has been a note pushed under my hotel door announcing the match will now be shown in the rooftop terrace bar. They do not do understatement here as it announces: "An Exceptional Event Under The Stars!" Let's hope so - seems a shame to miss it, but the Stadio Olimpico sounds a much better bet to me so I think I'll go there."

Manchester United fans explain their route to Rome on the BBC News Channel: "We got into Calais but then ended up in Belgium. We took a detour through Belgium, Luxembourg, then back to Strasbourg in France, then Germany and on to Switzerland before arriving."

Barcelona-based journalist Graham Hunter: "I hope that the two of them, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, can give us a final we will never forget tonight. In terms of invention, of doing something out of absolutely nothing, they are unrivalled."

Text in your views on 81111
From Nick Veale in Bristol, via text on 81111: "The good lady wife is due to give birth any day now and not sure what I am most nervous about. Please no labour pains at 7.45!"

0939: We've got plenty of people in the mixer to keep you updated with the very latest events from Italy, so hopefully we won't miss a trick. Our very own chief football writer Phil McNulty will be in the thick of it, while a gaggle of other BBC reporters will be covering every spit and cough coming out of the Eternal City. It's not just thrown together, you know - our plans for Rome weren't built in a day...

Stone Roses bassist and Manchester United fan Mani: "We were chucking a few tunes last night and getting people in the party spirit."

Daily Telegraph football writer Henry Winter on BBC News Channel: "It'll be Wayne Rooney's sort of game. He will probably play wide left against Carlos Puyol, who is an ageing right-back and I think it'll be Rooney's final. If Manchester United win, I think they will be the greatest British team of all time, eclipsing the Liverpool team of 1984."

0925: If you're planning to stick around later, here's some golden news: Cheesy will be in the chair from about 1700 BST onwards. We're giving this game as much treatment as Cristiano Ronaldo would need after 90 minutes being man-marked by Giuseppe Bergomi.

Text in your views on 81111
From Kris in Bradford, via text on 81111: "It's Ronaldo vs Messi, Rooney vs Eto'o, Anderson vs Iniesta, Giggs vs Xavi. Holy Champions League final Stevo!"

Get involved on 606
From RKW - Heart and Pole on 606: "Everyone is expecting an epic match tonight, but I disagree. I think that it will be a very tight and nervy affair, with Man Utd snatching a 2-1 win in the last five minutes."
Join the debate on 606

0911: But we wouldn't be starting this early if we didn't think you, our loyal readers, would be super keen to get involved. I don't care what your chat is, I just know I want it. Otherwise, you've got eight hours or so of me banging on, and nobody wants that. Texts to 81111, and comment, debate and create away on 606. Remember: we were born for this day. Don't let it slip by.
Join the debate on 606

0906: I don't think I've ever started a live text in the morning before, but what a way to break that particular duck. I know we in the media like to over-hype stuff on occasions, but this sells itself - a million times over. It's Barcelona and Manchester United, for heaven's sake.

0900: Does anybody else feel like the moment they were born to see has finally arrived? It's like every birthday, Christmas, graduation and wedding rolled into one. Happy 27th May, everyone.
FC Barcelona v Manchester United (kick-off: 645 minutes)


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see also
Barcelona 2-0 Man Utd
27 May 09 |  Europe
Champions League photos
27 May 09 |  Europe
Barca-Man Utd build-up
27 May 09 |  Europe


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