* Early Doors is not in Moscow.
Ji-Sung Park has been left out of the United squad alltogether, which is quite a surprise when you consider the role he's played in their European campaign.
The atmosphere is really starting to build in the stadium now, with both sets of fans in good voice. You can follow all the action LIVE!! by clicking on the link on our homepage.
The teams are in!! Chelsea have gone 4-3-3 as expected, but Fergie has gone for it with his line-up. Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo all start.
Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole, Makelele, Ballack, Lampard, J Cole, Molouda, Drogba
United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez
Reports are coming in of an almighty ruck at Gatwick Airport. Apparently Chelsea fans reacted badly to the news their flight to Moscow was cancelled and a melee of some kind ensued. As an impartial observer I would add that this incident could turn out to have nothing whatsoever to do with Chelsea fans, or even football for that matter.
A likely alternative scenario would run as follows...
Disapointed Chelsea fans making their way home spotted a group of shivering foreign exchange students at East Croydon and offered them their £50 Chelsea shirts. Upon arriving at Gatwick, the students became embroiled in a physical battle over the price of sandwiches as Costa Coffee and a fight broke out. See where I'm going here...
"Manchester United has as much chance of winning today as Early Doors has of being the next president of The United States of America" - umar250
It's interesting you should say that umar250, especially when you consider the events of 1999. Back then a certain George W. Bush was "interning" in our US offices when he got the call to blog the Champions League final.
As you may have heard, United spent much of the game trailing to the mighty Bayern Munich and with 57 minutes on the clock this post was received.
"Man United has as much hope of triumphing in this Euro soccer final as Early Doors has of being the next president of The United States" - hilsclint1
The rest, as they say, is history.
TEAM NEWS! Early Doors can exclusively reveal the names of Chelsea and Manchester United players who will almost certainly miss out tonight.
United - Lee Duxbury, Nobby Stiles, Lee Martin, Lee Sharpe
Chelsea - Scott Sinclair, Michael Duberry, Chopper Harris, Mark Hateley
Meanwhile, fans are ignoring the credit crunch to drink heavily in Moscow.
Three hours to go and Manchester United unquestionably have the edge. Their players are drinking plenty of water (clear and plentiful urine is essential for optimum physical performance) and due to the fact United's dressing room is 200 metres nearer the pitch than Chelsea's, Fergie's team will unquestionably enter the game in better physical shape.
If the game goes to extra-time Chelsea players will have covered an additional 1,000 metres as a result of their dressing room location. Now that's a stat.
"WOOO WOOO WOOO WOOO" That's our Champions League final cliché alarm going off again. Sky Sports are unsurprisingly the culprits, launching into a "blue square" reference to introduce random pundit Alec Stewart. For some reason we're supposed to care what he thinks.
How about getting some opinion from somebody who actually knows what they're talking about, like American Idol judge Randy Jackson. He'd be great at half-time...
"Yo Yo Yo, listen up dog. Listen up. It was aiiiright for me, just about aiiright. A bit pitchy though."
Ryan Giggs is pictured in the team hotel struggling with three small bottles of water, while Rooney is cradling two. On a day of such magnitude you have to wonder why United didn't pay for both to have a single, larger bottle.
Meanwhile, officials have announced the losing fans will be kept inside the stadium long after the final whistle. They will also be encouraged to sing congratulatory songs for the winning side and participate in the UEFA "losers get the drinks in" initiative by each purchasing a two-pint tankard of Russian beer for an opposing fan of their choice.
Big finals are all about vices. Drinking, smoking, swearing, binge eating and belching are all acceptable practices on a night of such high tension.
While you're at it, why not get some gambling in the mix. Here are the best ways to waste a tenner on tonight's match.
66/1 - Gerard Pique to score the first goal
100/1 - Chelsea to win 6-5
50/1 - Henrique Hilario first to be booked
80/1 - Claudio Pizarro to score a hattrick
Plus a few we can't find anywhere...
1/9 - Drunk fans of losing team behave inappropiately
1/15,000 - Losing manager casts blame on officials
30,000/1 - Russian police exchange shirts and signed weapons with fans after the game in a show of respect.
Bad news for around 200 Chelsea fans, who will play no part in painting Red Square blue (obligatory Champions League final cliché) after their plane was grounded at Gatwick.
Not only have they missed the chance to watch their beloved "Chelse" in the BIGGEST GAME EVER, but the opportunity to rub shoulders with Andrei Lugovoy, poisoning suspect extraordinaire, has also gone begging.
Lugovoy has been accused of involvement in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, but tonight he'll be sipping champagne and cheering on the blues in Moscow. If Rooney and Ronaldo suddenly go down with what looks suspiciously like radioactive poisoning we'll know where to look.
It's just about that time of day when people start speculating wildly about the teams for tonight. Early Doors has had its ear to the ground and has gleaned the following pearls of nonsense.
1 - Nemanja Vidic is unfit and will not play, meaning Wes Brown to centre-back, Owen Hagreaves to right-back and a start for either Carlos Tevez or Chelsea nemesis Darren Fletcher.
2 - Michael Ballack is dropped for Chelsea, with Avram Grant bunging Michael Essien into a three-man midfield with Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele.
3 - Wayne Rooney has been left out, with Sir Alex Ferguson going for Carlos Tevez as a lone striker having been impressed with his performance against Barcelona.
Probably rubbish, but it's fun to gossip...
Some observers might remark that the shots of hundreds of fans queuing up to enter the designated 'fan zone' in Red Square are reminiscent of the famous bread lines witnessed during the height of the Russian communist era.
However, such is the lowbrow mindset of ED that instead such images bring to mind the infinite hordes of Rangers fans waiting to get into the Wetherspoons in Manchester city centre last week. And we all know how that turned out.
Let's hope it's not simply a matter of time before the heady mix of sunshine, adrenaline and good ol' fashioned loopy juice will turn this 'party atmosphere' into a free-for-all.
With fans filtering peacefully through Moscow airport and several dozen kickabouts going on in Red Square, it is time for some reader interaction.
A relatively quiet morning has been enlivened by the incendiary presence of paulathompson15, the Early Doors message board's one-woman(?) wrecking ball.
Linguistic hilarity abounds courtesy of this contribution from tuscan16 (james_ssmith with the assist): "A common vulgarity in Russian is 'yob tvoi matz' where the last 2 words mean 'your mother' - I will leave you to work out the rest. My Russian wife still sniggers when she hears the word in English, and Joseph Yobo is her favourite player."
The best apocryphal Champions League prediction of the morning comes from the almost obscenely-named ima_fat_tw: "Just got a taxi and couldn't believe that (ex-United legend) Neil Webb was my taxi driver. Asked him what he thought the score would be, he turned to me said "2-1 to united". Not concentrating on the road, he knocked over Lee Martin, not a serious injury, so thought I'd ask the man that saved Fergie's career his thoughts on the final, "2-1 to united". Well that was enough for me, headed to the nearest bookies and put four fresh turnips on United winning 2-1."
Any more made-up score predictions from minor celebrities? You know where to put them.
Just what was Claude Makelele thinking when he launched that two-footed tackle on Ashley Cole in training yesterday?
It is possible he was thinking about the hilarious headlines that would greet his madness. Early Doors can only dream of being dubbed 'Mad Mak', 'Blunatic' or 'Whackelele' on the back pages.
It's good to see the Mirror making an effort ahead of the big match. It has clumsily photoshopped a picture of a footballer's head comprising half John Terry and half Rio Ferdinand.
Early Doors doubts whether the horrifying results will win over any newsagent undecideds, who will probably choke back the vomit and reach for a copy of the Sun.
Meanwhile, Sky continue to drop in on various reporters around Moscow, all disappointedly commenting on the lack of aggro. Instead we have to make do with an interview with some Chelsea fans from (wait for it...) Godmanchester! Classic.
- - -
WHAT EARLY DOORS WROTE EARLIER:
What will you be doing at eight o'clock tonight? Early Doors trusts it will not be alone in sitting intently in front of its TV watching Chelsea.
It is the biggest occasion of its kind, an annual showpiece which features beauty and creativity, where talented professionals get the chance to make something out of nothing and become legends.
Not, of course, the bitter, spiteful, and defensive Champions League final, but rather the Flower Show.
And with that painfully obvious and unfunny opening gag, Early Doors sets the tone for what promises to be a deeply anti-climactic day.
Still, at least it noticed the Chelsea connection, unlike Alan Titchmarsh (see, ED really does watch this stuff).
The Richard Keys of gardening kicked off last night's CFS instalment with the tragic utterance: "Well, the talk of the sporting world might be the Olympic games..."
Not if you have read a newspaper, watched the TV or really been alive in any way over the last few days, it isn't.
Still, tonight's combatants can learn a thing or two from the Flower Show winners, one of whom was asked "How will you celebrate?" after claiming an award and promptly replied: "I'll go straight to bed."
ED suspects that none of tonight's victors will be doing likewise unless they are accompanied by a bevy of Muscovite 'lovelies'.
Titchmarsh must have been living in a cave - or on the Isle of Wight - for Champions League fever is everywhere, with the game being advertised all over Sky, ITV, the internet and the papers, each of of them using trendy Soviet-style imagery to promote their coverage.
Fun as it may be to imagine Keys being written out of history or David Pleat turning up with an ice pick through the side of his head, Early Doors is slightly uneasy about this glorification of totalitarianism.
But enough about Roman Abramovich and the Glazers (cymbal crash!).
It's just that the Communists are so damn sexy. Lenin might have been personally responsible for the deaths of several million people, but the fact that he oppressed with a certain flair seems to make it all OK.
What would happen if the Champions League final were in Germany, and the TV companies used imagery of the Nuremberg rallies to promote the lukewarm punditry of Ray Wilkins and Andy 'No really, it's me operating this expensive replay equipment' Townsend?
There would be outrage, of course, but it could never happen because National Socialism just isn't stylish enough to be rehabilitated in the public consciousness.
Look at the way they murdered their political opponents. Communism is all about poison-tipped umbrellas, exploding cigars and the aforementioned ice pick; the Nazis just shot their enemies. No fun there.
And not to get all Trinny and Susannah on you, but as the symbol of an evil regime the swastika looks dumpy, dowdy and outdated.
Compare that to the sleek curves of the hammer and sickle. The juxtaposition of the slender crescent against the stark, aggressive hammer is just divine, darling.
The hammer and sickle is a svelte supermodel next to the swastika's overweight hausfrau. Ooh, if it were possible to make love to extremist political insignia...
- - -
It has been a great week for fans of sports correspondents ferreting around Moscow trying to justify their air fare, interviewing every conceivable 'celebrity'. That is to say, good for nobody but the sweaty hacks themselves.
At one point on Monday the top story on Sky Sports News was that David Baddiel thought United were favourites, which clearly proves nothing other than he knows how to log on to Betfair.
Despite all the fevered build-up, for most fans this is what Early Doors likes to call an Atomic Bomb game.
Basically, they want neither side to win. John Terry or Rio Ferdinand? It doesn't matter which England defender lifts the cup. Whether it's the one who pissed in a cup when he shouldn't have, or the one who didn't when he should, it will be unbearable.
The only positive outcome would be if an atomic bomb dropped on the stadium. And, given Russia's record on nuclear security, that scenario is just a couple of bottles of Stolichnaya away from becoming a reality.
As Early Doors watched Rangers fans run amok in Manchester last Wednesday, an American acquaintance wondered aloud why the police didn't simply shoot the 'Soccerball' rioters.
Although his country has the highest rate of gun deaths in the developed world, the Yank had a point, and his zero tolerance "Kill 'em all" ethos will be put into practice tonight by Russian coppers.
Any misbehaviour in Moscow could result in a night in the cells at best, or at worst in a body bag or a Siberian smelting facility.
It is amazing how civilised people can be when the alternative is to get gunned down by riot police. As such, ED confidently repeats its prediction of a trouble-free night.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have no concerns about the pitch. UEFA have done their best to prepare it. You have to remind yourself that Old Trafford in February is not the best in the league and is probably the worst." Alex Ferguson on the hopelessly dodgy surface at the Luzhniki Stadium. Hands up who feels strangely nostalgic for the synthetic Subbuteo surface that helped end the Steve McClaren era?
Fergie might not be too popular with the Manchester United groundsman after rating his playing surface worse than the Wigan pitch that had a bleached-blond stripe down the middle that made it look like a giant version of Kevin Pietersen's hair.
Otherwise, absolutely nothing of any worth has been said by anyone all week. Just play the game, dammit!
FOREIGN VIEW: Not everyone cares about the Champions League final you know. German scandal-sheet Bild is more concerned with the story of "Lewis Hamilton mit Bikini-Model in Cannes." You don't have to be Boris Becker to translate that one.
TALKING POINT: g_hine takes issue with ED's claim that Venus is a far-away planet: "Venus is not distant, it is our nearest neighbour other than the moon. The fact that the atmosphere is a mixture of sulphurous compounds and the rain is corrosive probably means that NASA aren't trying too hard to man a mission there."
The ever-reliable kevmun82 suggests Cristiano Ronaldo will jettison the traditional 'Thank You Jesus' t-shirt in favour of a come-and-get-me plea: "1-1 Normal Time, no breakthrough in extra time, it'll go to pens, Ronaldo will score the winning one and then reveal a message on his T-shirt saying 'That was for you, Real, come and get me'"
And how can ED ignore so brazen a remark as: "I hope ED mentions me tomorrow"? Consider it done, sfteam50.
Today - Who do you want to win? Any predictions? Double points if you've extracted a comment from a d-list celebrity. Or feel free to make one up.
COMING UP: Such a momentous occasion calls for something special. Well, Early Doors doesn't have that, but instead it will post updates throughout the day shamelessly poking fun at those more in Moscow than itself.
Plus there is an absolute avalanche of pre-game features, including a tremendous drinking game for anyone more interested in getting drunk on Russian lager than watching the game.