The pairing of the 2008 UEFA Champions league final now is complete - the opponents of Manchester United will be Chelsea F.C. This is officially the first English CL final in the league history. But you know how it is in modern football - English club doesn`t always stand for "club with English footballers". Of course neither of these clubs is as "English-free" as Arsenal for which only Theo Walcott plays more or less regularly while the rest are players from other countries.
But we can now compare the squads of the CL finalists and decide which one of them is more "English".
It`s the gravest problem of English football than there are very few good goalkeepers in England and almost all Premier League clubs rely on foreigners in this position. All three goalkeepers of Chelsea are foreigners - Cech from the Czech Republic, Cudicini from Itally and the portuguese Hilario. Manchester`s number one goalkeeper Edvin van der Saar is Dutch, his backup Tomasz Kuszczak is Polish but the clubs third goalkeeper - Ben Foster - is English, so advantage in English goalkeeping goes to Manchester because they have one English goalkeeper that has played in a Premier League match this season.
Manchester 1 - Chelsea 0
There are 3 English defencemen in Chelsea F.C. - Ashley Cole, Wayne Bridge and John Terry. Terry is the team captain and one of its leaders, Ashley Cole is also a regular player with the club. Meanwhile Bridge is a typical back-up player who appears only when other defencemen can`t play. Alex, Juliano Beletti, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira are certainly more important in the Chelsea F.C. defence than Bridge. Thus the role of English footballers in the clubs defence is around 45% (thanks to the role of John Terry).
Meanwhile Manchester has following English defencemen - Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown. Neville although he is the team captain hasn`t played lately much because of injuries, thus only Brown and Ferdinand play regularly. Currently I`d say that the English defencemen make up some 40% of the defensive efforts of the club, less than in Chelsea where John Terry can quite often decide the outcome of key matches.
In addition to Frank Lampard the English presence in Chelsea midfield includes Joe Cole, Steve Sidwell and Shaun Wright-Phillips. I consider their role at about 50%.
Manchester has following English midfielders - Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Chris Eagles. Their input is certainly smaller than that of Chelsea midfielders, I`d say - about 40%.
Manchester 1 - Chelsea 2
There are no English strikers in Chelsea, thus their input is at around 0%. Manchester has Wayne Rooney, who makes up at least 30% of the clubs attacking power.
Manchester 2 - Chelsea 2
Neither of the clubs has a majority of English players. For example in the second Semi-Final matches in the CL only 3 Englishmen played for Manchester (Hargreaves, Scholes, Brown) against 4 of Chelsea (Terry, Lampard, J.Cole, A.Cole). But as Manchester had two non-english britons - Giggs and Fletcher you could say that both of these clubs are "English" or "British" to a very similar extent which could be described as "not exactly English".
Anyway, I will support Manchester in the final.