The biggest game in the world of club soccer will be contested Wednesday evening in Moscow when Manchester United faces Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final. The game will be a historic one, as it is the first time that two English teams will meet in the championship game. As if that wasn't enough, the rivalry between these two teams has become immense over the past couple of seasons.
Over the course of the past four seasons, the two superclubs have split the English Premier League title -- Chelsea having won the title in 2004-05 and 2005-06, while United has taken the crown each of the last two seasons. In three of those four seasons, the other club has finished as the runner-up.
In addition to their battles for league supremacy, United and Chelsea also battled it out for the FA Cup last season, Chelsea winning that contest in extra time. Now, the two sides will be playing to determine who the best club in Europe is.
While the rivalry certainly has taken on a pitched tone in England and elsewhere, in Los Angeles, it has taken on a bit more of a friendly tone. The Galaxy's superstar midfielder, David Beckham, has long been a Manchester United player and supporter, having started his career in the youth system, and leading United to the unprecedented treble in 1998-99. His coach, Ruud Gullit, spent a couple of seasons as the manager of Chelsea. Naturally both will be rooting for different teams come Wednesday.
"I always think that Manchester United deserve to win everything. I'm a United fan," said Beckham. "I think they've got a great team and they've got great players all the way through the team, not just their top players. The fans deserve things like this because the support like no other team around the world."
Gullit naturally has a different perspective. In fact, if he had things his way, Manchester United wouldn't even be playing in tomorrow's game. United defeated Barcelona in the semifinals. Before being ousted last week, Barcelona was coached by Gullit's good friend Frank Rijkaard. So who does Gullit want to see win it all?
"I hope that Chelsea wins, of course," said Gullit. When questioned about Beckham's support of United, Gullit took a little shot at his player for good measure. "You can't be perfect you know."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.