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Champions League Final > beer against espresso in Athens May 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Milan and Liverpool fans have arrived in Greece’s capital city, and crowded cafés and streets leading up to the Champion’s League Finals.

The atmosphere before the great final of the Champion’s League is heating up, the streets of the Greek capital city are covered in the colours of both clubs. Also many Italians and Englishmen have already arrived, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of the Olympic Games in 2004. The hosts prepared well, and organized various programs to entertain the fans. At the Syntagma Square there is a temporary indoor football field with grandstands.

Most television and radio stations report those events, asking for opinions and forecasts. The announced police strike will occur at a later date, and on the night of the finals, there will be 15,000 police officers on duty, as well as many other security personnel. The Greeks are scared of thieves, that will use the night of the finals in which the police will be concentrated around the Olympic Stadium. Billboards, signs, tour guides, all of Athens’ residents are enthusiastic, and the city is simply breathing for the finals. Besides Liverpool and Milan fans who are desperately searching for finals tickets, the locals also really want to go to the match, and are not happy with the distribution of the tickets, which was not favourable for the Greeks.

greekpolice.jpg  There were not many tickets in Athens, but some were in the hands of sponsors who would give them away if you bought their products, or in various raffles. Of course, with these types of events, the black market thrives, so tickets can be bought from 2500 euros to a mind blowing 5000 euros. Like all matches, tomorrow many people with cards will offer a fortune for tickets. As always, when English clubs play there are fears for disorder, and the Greek police have lots of experience in Greek derbies.

There will not be problems on the grandstands, but on the streets after a few beers, especially in Psiri, in downtown Athens, where there is 120 bars where people will come to wet their throats before the match. The battle of the English against the Italians has already started in Greece. The red and black who will wear white jerseys against the red from the city of the Beatles. The Italians are drinking espressos on the terraces whilst the English are holding a beer in one hand. On Wednesday after 10.30pm, or in the case of extra time, around 11pm, some people will be heartbroken, and some will be wildly celebrating. Will Liverpool win again, or will Milan get their revenge for Istanbul.

Tomorrow we will see. Good Luck to both teams, and a warm Welcome to Athens and Greece!

Champions League Final > Did you know? May 22, 2007

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· Carlo Ancelotti’s hobby is the cinema and his favourite film The Deer Hunter or Il Cacciatore.

· Alessandro Costacurta is married to Martina, a former Miss Italy. Paolo Maldini’s wife, Adriana, is merely a former model.

· Spain’s record of 11 European Cup wins will be equalled in Athens. Italy and England have both had 10 previous victories.

· Milan are the only side to have won two finals against the same opponents – Benfica 1963 & 1990.

· Arthur Ellis, who appeared alongside Stuart Hall and Eddie Waring on It’s A Knockout, refereed the first final in 1956.

· Peter McDonnell was Liverpool’s reserve goalkeeper in the 1977 final and won a medal without ever playing a first-team game for the club.

· Jamie Carragher appeared in the Liverpool band Just 3’s 2005 video for Stand Tall which was directed by Samantha Janus.

· Milan is the only city to have provided two winners of the competition – Milan and Internazionale.

· Jimmy Rimmer is the only English player to have won European Cup winners medals with two different clubs – Manchester United in 1968 and Aston Villa in 1982.

Spotter’s Guide >

· Look out for … a glassy-eyed Steve Rider saying “Welcome to the Greek capital Athens, where tonight Liverpool will be hoping to leave bearing the greatest gift of all – the Champions League trophy”.

· Players on both sides leaping up and down on the spot and doing stuttery steps at conclusion of pre-match Champions League anthem.

· Lingering close-up of attractive Italian woman with red and black face paint twirling a scarf. “A wonderful spectacle inside the Olympic Stadium,” says Clive Tyldesley.

· Rafael BenÍtez doing fingers-tied-together gesture followed by frantic impression of man casting fly-fishing rod.

· Carlo Ancelotti seen with his left eyebrow higher than his right.

· Chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone with close-up of man with moustache in retro red shirt covered in vintage LFC badges and holding up cardboard replica of trophy.

· Steven Gerrard and Gennaro Gattuso making big show of picking each other up after heavy challenge. “No quarter asked, none given,” says Martin Tyler on Sky.

· Clive Tyldesley purring about “that magical night in Barcelona eight years ago when English football dared to dream the impossible”.

· Jubliant transfer-listed third-string goalkeeper in club suit positioning himself at centre of post-match bobbing huddle.

· Player performing inappropriately sexual lambada-style dance around trophy on podium while victorious team waits for presentation.

Champions League Final > match details May 22, 2007

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The Presentation > There will be a new look to the presentation ceremony after the game in Athens. Gone will be the spaceship style podium and explosion of tickertape as the captain takes the silverware, instead the players will walk up the steps into the stands to receive the trophy.

Michel Platini will hand it over and it was his idea to abandon the on-pitch podium for the first Champions League final since he was elected president of Uefa in January ahead of Lennart Johansson. “It was my wish that a noble European club competition tradition should be revived,” he said on Uefa’s website. “The winners will climb steps to receive the trophy amid the crowd of fans, the football people, those who are loyal to the game. Football is being restored to its rightful place.”

There had been some dismay at the use of a hastily assembled podium which leaves three-quarters of the ground with an unclear view of the presentation. English fans have already experienced a return to the tradition, when Chelsea’s captain John Terry received the domestic FA Cup trophy from Prince William in the stands at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Platini, who scored the penalty for Juventus that won the European Cup in tragic circumstances at Heysel Stadium in 1985, cited the “iconic” images of presentations of the past. “Bobby Moore proudly wearing the red shirt bearing three lions in 1966, Italy’s Dino Zoff in the middle of the crowd in the Bernabéu in 1982, and older fans will not have forgotten a night at Paris’s Parc des Princes in 1956 when Miguel Muñoz held aloft the first European Champion Clubs Cup.”

Kit Corner > Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan were drawn as the home team for the match but rejected the opportunity to wear their famous red-and-black stripes in favour of an alternative all-white strip. If they are beaten by Liverpool for the second time in three seasons tomorrow night the Rossoneri will curse their lucky stars.

Milan have worn the “maglia fortunata”, or lucky jerseys, in five of their six European Cup triumphs, against Benfica (1963 and 1990), Steaua Bucharest (1989), Barcelona (1994) and Juventus (2003). However, the kit carried little fortune two years ago, as Liverpool overturned a three-goal deficit to triumph on penalties. That was not the first time the superstition has been laid low: in 1995 the Milanese were beaten 1-0 by Ajax in Vienna. Having won each of their five European Cups wearing red, Liverpool will be delighted. Ominously for Milan, each of those victories came against teams wearing white.

The Anthem > When the players line up before the final they will be greeted by the Champions League anthem, as they have in every match in the competition this season. It is a familiar tune to millions after its use across Europe with the opening titles for television broadcasts of matches from the group stage onwards, and for Uefa’s weekly magazine television programme about the competition.

But did you know that the stirring piece can be traced back to Georg Frideric Handel, the German-born British composer, 280 years ago? When Uefa created the Champions League in 1992-93, it wanted a piece of music that would come to give the competition an identity and introduce uniformity to its coverage. In 1992 Tony Britten, the British composer, was commissioned to write and arrange the music from Handel’s Zadok the Priest from the Coronation Anthems. It was performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields chorus in Uefa’s official languages: English, German and French. The complete work is about three minutes long and has two short verses and a chorus.

In 2000 one member of the choir who sang on the recording, Judith Colman, wrote in the Guardian, “I am ashamed to say I can still remember the words: ‘We are the champions; wir sind die Besten; nous sommes les meilleurs.’ It is heartening to note that this theme tune has stood the test of time, having been used for the best part of a decade.” Seven years on it is still going strong.

Other Champions League signifiers include the “starball” banner in the centre circle which is waved by children before a match, and a redressing of advertising hoardings within a stadium so that only official sponsors are recognised.

Rules and regulations > The final tie consists of one single match. If the result stands as a draw at the end of 90 minutes, extra-time of two periods of 15 minutes shall be played. If one team scores more goals than the other during extra-time, that team shall be declared the winners. If the teams are still on level terms after extra-time, the winners will be determined by kicks from the penalty mark. If there is no winner after 10 kicks there will be further pairs of “sudden death” kicks from the penalty mark until one team has scored more than the other.

The champions may have a copy of the European Cup trophy made, provided the copy is clearly marked as a replica and is not larger than four-fifths of the size of the original. Thirty gold medals will be presented to the winning club, and 30 silver medals to the runners-up.

Champions League Final > facts and figures May 22, 2007

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Facts and figures relating to the Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool in Athens >

* Athens is staging the final of Europe’s premier club competition for the third time following the finals of 1983 and 1994.

* Both of those finals also featured an Italian club with Hamburg SV defeating Juventus 1-0 in 1983 and Milan beating Barcelona 4-0 13 years ago. Athens’ port district of Pireaus also played host to the Cup Winners’s Cup finals in 1971, 1973, when Milan beat Leeds United 1-0, and 1987.

* Milan have already played a Champions League match in Athens this season, losing a group stage match 1-0 to AEK on November 21 last year.

* This is the 52nd final since the competition began as the European Cup in 1955-56, with AC Milan making their 11th appearance and attempting to win the trophy for the seventh time.

* Their six previous successes were in 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994 and 2003 and their losing appearances came in 1958, 1993, 1995 and 2005, against Liverpool.

* Liverpool are making their seventh appearance in the final, having won the trophy in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 2005 against Milan. They lost in 1985.

* It will be Liverpool’s fourth successive European Cup final against Italian opposition after facing AS Roma in 1984, Juventus in 1985 and Milan in 2005. Milan have played two finals against English clubs, against Leeds in the 1973 Cup Winners’ Cup and Liverpool in the Champions League.

* If he overcomes a knee problem and plays Paolo Maldini will appear in his eighth final for Milan, winning in 1989, 1990, 1994 and 2003 and losing in 1993, 1995 and 2005.

* He will also become, at the age of 38 years 331 days, the oldest outfield player to appear in a European Cup/Champions League final. The oldest player to appear was Juventus goalkeeper Dino Zoff, aged 41 years 86 days in 1983.

* His Milan team mate Alessandro Costacurta, 41, could become the oldest outfield player as well, but is unlikely to play. Maldini’s goal in the first minute against Liverpool in 2005 was only the second goal ever scored in the first minute of the final and also made him the oldest goalscorer for his own side. Barcelona goalie Antonio Ramallets was older when he scored an own goal for Benfica in 1961. Maldini will draw level with Real Madrid’s Francisco Gento (eight finals) if he plays. He currently shares seven appearances with Real’s Alfredo di Stefano. His father Cesare captained Milan when they won the European Cup for the first time in 1963. Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is one of only five men to win the European Cup as both a player and a coach. He was in Milan’s winning sides of 1989 and 1990 and was coach when they beat Juventus on penalties in 2003.

* Ancelotti and his Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez are attempting to become the 14th men to win two European Cups as coach. Only Liverpool’s Bob Paisley has won three.

* Although Real Madrid have appeared in 12 European Cup finals and won a record nine times, Milan have reached more finals since the Champions League era began in 1992-93. This is their sixth final since the Champions League was introduced and they are attempting to win it for the third time, the same as Madrid in the same period.

* Milan’s Clarence Seedorf is the only player to win the European Cup with three different clubs: Ajax Amsterdam (1995), Real Madrid in 1998 and Milan in 2003. In 1995 he played against Milan. If Milan win he will become the first player to win the Champions League four times. Kaka of Milan is the highest scorer in the competition this season with 10 goals. He needs another four in the final to equal the record for one season of 14 established by Milan’s Jose Altafini in 1962-63. The only previous European meeting between Liverpool and Milan was the 2005 final.

Athens revels in festival atmosphere May 22, 2007

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kallimarmaro.jpg  The Kallimarmaro Stadium was built for the 1896 Olympic Games and it provided a sensational setting as fans of AC Milan and Liverpool FC converged on Athens ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Final.

Three sites > Following the lead set by Paris last year, a UEFA Champions Festival has been created by UEFA, the Hellenic Football Federation and the authorities in the Greek capital to encourage integration between locals and those flying in from Milan and Merseyside. The festival incorporates three sites this year, the ancient Olympic stadium, Zappeion Champions Square and Syntagma Square, all of which are linked by a miniature train in around 30 minutes.

Famous trophy > The UEFA Champions Gallery has again proved a popular attraction, the five-screen multimedia extravaganza showing highlights of over 50 years of European Champion Clubs’ Cup action, while supporters were also content to queue for a photo with the famous trophy, and for their chance to discuss finals past with former Milan forward Daniele Massaro and ex-Liverpool captain Phil Neal, both of whom know all about success in the competition.

Starball Match > Meanwhile, the 24-hour Starball Match came to a close at midday in Syntagma Square, three-a-side games having been played every 15 minutes since the same time yesterday. Despite his team losing the concluding match 9-5, Kleidon Hatzi, a 16-year-old Athenian, was delighted to be involved as the atmosphere intensified ahead of the final. “It was great to play and we’ve been given T-shirts and caps to remember the game,” he said.

Zidane involved > UEFA Champions League product development manager Dragan Kosanović added: “The UEFA Champions Festival is all about allowing the fans to feel as close to the final and the football as possible. Just looking around and seeing the smile on the young players’ faces makes all the hard work worth it. The icing on the cake will be when some children get coached by Zinédine Zidane on Wednesday; for the ones who get picked, it will probably be better than the final itself.”

Past greats > A skill clinic by the French maestro is likely to be the highlight of Wednesday’s programme, although a Champions’ match between European greats and Greek legends looks equally attractive. The likes of Michael Laudrup, Marcel Desailly and Zvonimir Boban will line up for the visitors, with Mimis Domazos, captain of the Panathinaikos FC team that reached the 1970 final under coach Férenc Puskas, the star name for the Greeks.

Source and Copyright > http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl/news/kind=1/newsid=541470.html

Art auction at the Cyprus Hilton May 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Auctions.
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Cypria Auctions is organising a second event to auction the work of Cypriot and Greek artists, following the success of their first auction in December last year.

The auction, will take place tomorrow at 6.30 pm at the Nicosia Hilton and includes the works of leading Cypriot artists such as Christoforos Savva, Victor Ioannides, Spyridon Ventoura and Michalis Kassialos as well as Greek painters Costas Parthenis and Alekos Fasianos.

Works from Parthenis have fetched around £600,000 Sterling in the past, while the auction will be hosted by the well-known Greek auctioneer Petros Vergos.

The paintings will be on display today at the Akamas Room at the Hilton Hotel from 9am-9pm and tomorrow 9am-1pm.

Australian politician backs Greek battle for Parthenon Marbles May 22, 2007

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A senior Australian politician on Tuesday backed Greece in its battle to force Britain to return the so-called Elgin Marbles, priceless ancient Greek friezes held by the British Museum.

During the first ever visit to Australia by the Greek Prime Minister, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma told Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis that it was time for London to relinquish the relics, also known as the Parthenon Marbles.

Iemma drew a parallel with the recent return by another London Museum of the 19th century remains of a group of Tasmanian Aborigines.

“It is time they did the same for Greece and return the Parthenon Marbles” Iemma said at a welcome luncheon held for Karamanlis who was beginning a five-day tour of Australia in Sydney. “I believe the Australian government must renew its efforts to persuade the British authorities to repatriate those unique treasures, and I pledge my government’s support and the efforts of all Australians who are friends of Greece,” said the leader of Australia’s most populous state.

The Parthenon Marbles are friezes and other artifacts that were part of the structure of the ruined Athens landmark illegally removed by Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin, and taken to London in the early 19th century.

But the Greek government has since demanded the return of the items that it maintains were looted from one of the country’s most iconic monuments to allow them to be put on display in Athens, in the currently under final stages of construction, New Acropolis Museum. The British Museum has long argued that they should remain in London.