Vol. 5 Num 990 Wed. March 14, 2007  

Zizou rejects Matrix link-up

A star-studded European XI including Ronaldo, Marco Materazzi and Steven Gerrard will join forces to face Manchester United on Tuesday to celebrate 50 years since the EU's founding Treaty of Rome.

The match, to be held at Old Trafford stadium, is a sell-out, ensuring a 72,000-strong crowd with all proceeds going to charity.

World Cup winner Ronaldo, along with fellow Brazilian star Ronaldinho of Barcelona, will also be joined by the likes of German goalkeeping great Oliver Kahn and French world cup winner Lilian Thuram.

However there will be no cosy coming-together for Materazzi and Zinedine Zidane, who famously head-butted the Inter Milan defender in last year's World Cup final in what was the French great's swansong.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) invited Zidane for the special match but "the answer arrived late and it was negative" former Italian coach Marcello Lippi announced Monday.

Lippi coached Italy to victory and is managing the European XI for Tuesday's match.

Several other players were approached but declined the invitation for "excellent reasons", Lippi told a press conference in Brussels, alongside UEFA chief Michel Platini, former Manchester United great Bobby Charlton and EU Commission chief Manuel Barroso.

Former England star David Beckham was earlier named to face his former club but is currently out with a knee injury.

Nor do any Chelsea players appear on Lippi's list, which he stressed was still subject to last-minute changes.

Charlton could not say whether United would field their strongest side for the match, given their heavy domestic and European schedule.

But he assured the assembled reporters that whatever team United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sends on to the field "it's a team he sends out to win".

The match, the proceeds of which will go to the official Manchester United Foundation, funding community projects locally and further afield, also marks 50 years of the club's involvement in European football competitions.

"In a continent proud of its cultural diversity, football offers a common language," said Platini.

Below is a list of the full squad of European and Europe-based players, who will give their time and effort for free.

Goalkeepers: Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich/GER), Gregory Coupet (Lyon/FRA), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid/ESP)
Defenders: Paolo Maldini (AC Milan/ITA), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool/ENG), Eric Abidal (Lyon/FRA), Lilian Thuram (Barcelona/ESP), Carles Puyol (Barcelona/ESP), Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan/ITA), Fabio Grosso (Inter Milan/ITA), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona/ESP).
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool/ENG), Juninho (Lyon/FRA), Florent Malouda (Lyon/FRA), Luis Miguel (Valencia/ESP), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan/ITA), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan/ITA)
Strikers: Ronaldinho (Barcelona/ESP), Ronaldo (AC Milan/ITA), Alessandro Mancini (AS Roma/ITA), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan/ITA), Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg/SWE).