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For those who love soccer, the final of the oldest domestic cup competition in the world takes place on Saturday when Chelsea plays Liverpool in the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
With the popularity of the English Premier League exploding across America, a final featuring two of the EPL’s most popular teams will further ignite interest on this side of the pond.
While there will be no U.S. players participating in the final itself, there is a strong American interest. Liverpool is owned by Fenway Sports Group, who also own the Boston Red Sox, so John Henry will likely feature when the camera pans to Liverpool’s director box.
Chelsea have won the cup six times and Liverpool have one more title with seven, but the two sides come into the final in varying levels of form.
Since Chelsea sacked Andre Villas Bollas earlier in the season, the team has been riding a wave of form under the tutelage of Roberto Di Matteo that has swept them into the finals of both the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Liverpool, managed by the legendary Kenny Dalglish, has been clinical in cup competition – they won the Carling Cup in February – but listless in the league, languishing in eighth place over 30 points behind the leaders.
Though the romance of the FA Cup is not what it used to be because of the all encompassing need to qualify for the Champions League and the money that comes with it, the final still stirs emotions in soccer fans all over the world.
So, to celebrate this year’s decider, we have decided to bring you five memorable moments from recent FA Cup final history.
Didier Drogba – 2007 Final
The Ivorian target man won the first of his three FA Cup medals in 2007 when Chelsea defeated Manchester United in the final. In an otherwise dour game, Drogba and Lampard played a neat give-and-go that unlocked the United defense and set up the winner for the Londoners.
Steve Gerrard – 2006 Final
In one of the best finals in recent years, Liverpool and West Ham duked it out in a six-goal thriller. However, it was looking grim for the Reds as the trailed the Hammers with in injury time at the end of the game. Once again, when Liverpool needed him the most, captain fantastic Steve Gerrard stepped up to the plate and delivered this exquisite finish. Liverpool went on to win the game in a penalty shootout.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 2004 Final
Before he became a goal machine at the Bernabeu with Real Madrid, Ronaldo honed his talents with Manchester United. In his first major final, Ronaldo opened the scoring for the Red Devils as they easily defeated London team Milwall in the final by three goals to zero.
Roberto Di Matteo – 1997 Final
The current Chelsea manager, Di Matteo enjoyed a fine playing career with the Blues before a terrible leg-break during a European tie ended his career prematurely. That playing time with Chelsea was capped by this goal, which at the time was the fastest ever goal scored in FA Cup final history. Chelsea went on to defeat Middleborough 2-1.
Eric Cantona – 1996 Final
The 1996 final between Liverpool and Manchester United was a disappointing affair played in pouring rain. The game was memorable for two reasons: Liverpool players were endlessly teased over the all-white suits they wore to the game, and this winning goal from Cantona. It is hard to describe how difficult it is to generate such power on this volley while on the back foot. A goal truly worthy of winning the FA Cup!