Champions League Final – The Key Battles Didier Drogba vs Nemanja Vidic You won't like Didier Drogba

when he's angry. The unfortunate Rafa Benitez and Liverpool incurred his wrath in the Semi-Final. Accusations of diving clearly didn't sit well with the powerful Ivorian and he saved one of his more impressive performances of a mediocre season for the second leg at Stamford Bridge. Drogba showed then that he can be a devastating force when his heart is in it, and opponents should tread carefully lest they awaken the Hulk within him. Clearly nobody told Nemanja Vidic. Earlier this week, the Serbian defender stoked the fire by suggesting that Drogba “pretends” to be weak. With Ferdinand covering his back, Vidic's primary task will be to stay tight on Drogba and use his physicality to put pressure on the Chelsea striker. Sir Alex Ferguson will be relieved that Vidic is fit again after recent injuries. The last time he faced Chelsea he went home with one less tooth and a concussion courtesy of Drogba's knee. He will need all his strength and focus to cope with him again tonight. Rio Ferdinand vs Michael Ballack Rio Ferdinand has come a long way since his harebrained beginnings at Manchester United. Inconsistent form and a missed drugs test prevented the world's costliest defender from endearing himself quickly to the Old Trafford faithful. The England international was even booed by his own supporters during contract negotiations in 2005, but since then he has elevated his game to a new level. His signature lapses of concentration, while not completely banished, are much rarer and having taken the England captaincy for a test drive in March, he is eager to wear the armband full-time. Leading United to Champions League glory will go a long way to convincing Fabio Capello that he is the man for the job. To do so he must keep an eye on another player who has had his own doubters. In 2006 Michael Ballack turned down United in favor of West London and until recently Sir Alex Ferguson won't have lost much sleep over the loss. The German's arrival at Stamford Bridge seemed to over complicate Chelsea's machine-like midfield; he was too similar to Frank Lampard said many. But with a rejuvenated Drogba going solo in attack, Ballack and Lampard have dovetailed excellently behind the lone striker. If United are successful in snuffing out the threat posed by Drogba, Chelsea's biggest weapon may be set-pieces, where Ballack will be a huge threat. It is up to Ferdinand to stop him. Frank Lampard vs Paul Scholes A Champions League Final is a special occasion for any player. For many, it will be the highlight of their career. Tonight's match, however, will carry extra significance for Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. Still grieving from the loss of his mother, Lampard overcame his emotion to score a vital penalty in the Semi-Final showdown against Liverpool. The tireless lungs of Chelsea's midfield, Lampard has enjoyed a solid if unspectacular campaign. After watching his uncle, Harry Redknapp, lift the FA Cup at the weekend, he will be looking to continue the family success in Moscow. Facing Lampard in the midfield trenches will be Scholes, Ferguson's most trusted combatant. Having missed the Final nine years ago, no-one is more deserving of his place at the Luzhniki Stadium. Rooney and Ronaldo may get the hype, but there are few more respected professionals in the game. Retiring from international football in 2004 has given the 33 year-old a new lease of life and, though the goals don't flow quite as freely as they once did, his importance to United cannot be understated.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Ashley Cole For all the plaudits and individual awards, questions remain about Ronaldo's aptitude for the big games. In the past, last season's Semi-Final in Milan for example, Ronaldo's influence diminished when the going got tough. And if United lose tonight, a season that has borne an astonishing 41 goals will still seem like a disappointment. There is no question that Ronaldo is one of the 2 or 3 best players in the world but many would place Leo Messi or Kaka above the Portuguese winger. A game-winning performance tonight would put him to the top of the pile and have the Madrid money-men scrambling for their checkbooks. If there is a defender who knows how to stop Ronaldo it is Ashley Cole. At Arsenal and now Chelsea, Cole has proven to be a rather prickly thorn in Ronaldo's side on more than one occasion. Their international match-ups at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup in particular have been intriguing confluences of attacking skill and defensive tenacity. Cole excels at depriving Ronaldo of the space and time in which he normally thrives. A late injury scare for the England defender has left Avram Grant sweating. If Cole doesn't play, the initiative will be with Ronaldo and United.

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