10 reasons why you should watch the Uefa Cup final

13:08, 20 May 2009
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You`ll be witnessing history

1. Both teams want to be there

Unlike Spurs, Aston Villa and Portsmouth, who got themselves knocked out (Manchester City were at least trying to stay in the competition when they lost to Hamburg), the Uefa Cup finalists, Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen want to be there. Both began poorly in their leagues so quickly concentrated on Europe. As a result, Shakhtar are making their debut in a European final, Werder contesting their first since defeating Arsène Wenger`s Monaco to win the 1992 European Cup-Winners` Cup. We`ll gloss over the fact that both began the campaign in the Champions League and were shunted into the Uefa Cup after finishing third in the group stages.

2. It should be a decent game

Shakhtar are one of just two teams to win at the Nou Camp this season, albeit when Barcelona were already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League. In the Uefa Cup they have knocked out Spurs, Marseilles, CSKA Moscow and, in the semi-final, Ukrainian rivals Dynamo Kiev. Werder have beaten Milan (with David Beckham), Martin Jol`s Hamburg and Udinese. However, suspension has ruled out Diego, their Brazilian playmaker who is tipped to move to Juventus this summer, and striker Hugo Almeida. However the game develops it is worth staying tuned to the end. Shakhtar scored a last-minute winner to edge past Kiev in the semi-final. Werder were 2-0 down at San Siro but rallied to gain a 2-2 draw and progress on away goals.

3. You can scout your club`s summer signing

Mesut Ozil, an attacking-midfielder of Turkish descent who has just been capped by Germany, will be closely watched by Premier League scouts. Other Werder players under scrutiny are Tim Weise, a 27-year-old goalkeeper who made his international debut against England in November, and attacking right-back Clemens Fritz, who played at Euro 2008. A clutch of attack-minded Brazilians, Fernandinho, Jadson, Ilsinho and Willian, all of whom impressed at White Hart Lane, will be hoping to follow former Shakhtar player Elano to the Premier League.

4. You`ll be witnessing history

This will be the last Uefa Cup final. From next season it will be the Europa Cup, which is very similar but structured more logically and slightly easier to be knocked out of. The Uefa Cup has run for 38 seasons, having replaced the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1972. Tottenham were the first winners, defeating Wolves in a two-leg final. Spurs won again in 1984, three years after Bobby Robson`s Ipswich, but Liverpool were England`s most successful club with three triumphs.

5. The clubs come from `proper` football heartlands

Well, they do if you subscribe to the smokestack-and-shipbuilding school of football history. Donetsk is built on coal and steel, Shakhtar means "Miner", their nickname is The Pitmen, even their orange-and-black colours supposedly symbolise a miner emerging into the sunset after a day underground. Bremen was originally a Hanseatic port with shipbuilding and brewing among its main industries. If supporting them tonight a bottle of Becks would be appropriate company.

6. You should support Donetsk if you`re Welsh

Donetsk was founded in 1869 by John Hughes, who hailed from Merthyr Tydfil. Hughes created several coal mines and built a steel plant. The town was originally named Hughesovka in his honour (having been renamed Stalino in 1924 it took the name Donetsk, after a nearby river, in 1961). Many Welshmen worked in the region, often bringing their families. Though most left after the Bolshevik Revolution some descendants still live in the area.

7. If you`re a Chelsea fan, you`ll see one of your men in a European final

Drogba, Lampard, Terry and company may not have got to a European final this May, but Claudio Pizarro has. The Peruvian has been on loan to Werder all season after an underwhelming campaign in London last year. He scored twice in 21 league appearances for Chelsea, but has 28 goals for Bremen with seven coming in the Uefa Cup including both goals in Milan. Portsmouth fans may recognise Werder defender Petri Pasanen, the Finn made 12 appearances for Pompey in 2004.

8. To see if Werder can end the Bundesliga`s barren run

There was a time when German clubs were to be feared in Europe. In 30 years from 1973 they reached 29 European finals (32 if East German clubs are included). But Werder are the first German finalists since 2002, when Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund lost the European Cup and Uefa Cup finals respectively.

9. To see if Shakhtar can become the first club from Ukraine to lift a European trophy since the fall of the Berlin Wall

Dynamo Kiev twice won the Uefa Cup, in 1975 and 1986, but while two Russian clubs have been successful since the collapse of the Soviet Union (CSKA Moscow in 2005, Zenit St Petersburg in 2008) clubs from Ukraine have struggled in Europe.

10. To pay homage to Joe Strummer

The late lead singer of The Clash wrote "Shakhtar Donetsk" when with his band The Mescaleros. The song tells the tale of an illegal immigrant who is the son of a Ukrainian exile.

The Independent

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