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Champions League Final > match details May 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.

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.

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