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Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 18:44 UK

Barca-Man Utd build-up

All the pre-match build-up as it happened on Wednesday ahead of Barcelona v Manchester United in Rome.

Champions League final

Live text - Champions League final

By Caroline Cheese

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?

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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.

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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.'"

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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.

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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

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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."

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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!"

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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!!!"
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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.
Join the debate on 606

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.

Text in your views on 81111
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."

Text in your views on 81111
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."

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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!"

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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
We can make history - Ferguson
26 May 09 |  Man Utd
Beating Barca the pinnacle - Evra
27 May 09 |  Europe
Guardiola backs Messi to deliver
26 May 09 |  Europe
How Man Utd mastered Europe
26 May 09 |  Man Utd
Vidic ready to win at all costs
26 May 09 |  Europe
Man Utd defence is key - Lineker
26 May 09 |  Man Utd
Barca's Toure ready for 'decider'
25 May 09 |  Europe
The men who make Barca beautiful
26 May 09 |  Europe
Kahn's Champions League nightmare
26 May 09 |  Europe
Rome puts alcohol limits on final
25 May 09 |  Europe
Ferguson hungry for more success
22 May 09 |  Man Utd
Uefa confident of safe Euro final
08 May 09 |  Europe
Road to Rome photos
25 May 09 |  Europe
Who has won the European Cup?
26 May 09 |  Europe

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