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Finishing touches for Athens final May 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Soccer fans pour into city

Liverpool and AC Milan put the finishing touches yesterday to their preparation for tonight’s Champions League final at the Olympic Stadium as thousands of soccer fans from England and Italy continued to arrive in Athens.

Both team managers, Rafa Benitez of Liverpool and Carlo Ancelotti of Milan, were reluctant to reveal the details of their tactics for tonight’s game as the two teams held their final press conferences yesterday afternoon and then trained on the Olympic Stadium turf under gloomy skies.

Ancelotti said that Milan would «try to impose their game» on the English side, adding that he expects Liverpool to play mostly on the counterattack.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez revealed little about his plans for tonight final apart from saying that the English side did not intend to man-mark AC Milan’s Brazilian star Kaka.

«It is not only about Kaka,» said Liverpool’s Norwegian defender John Arne Riise. «We have done everything right to get to the final. We are ready to go.»

The finalists stepped onto the pitch at the Olympic Stadium as more supporters continued to pour into Athens for the final.

About 50,000 fans are expected to have arrived in the city by this afternoon. Only some 34,000 will have tickets for the game and the police presence in the center of Athens remains high to ensure that ticketless fans do not misbehave.

The English supporters outnumber the Italians roughly two to one but as of last night authorities had not reported any major problems.

Police are also stepping up efforts to catch ticket scalpers who are looking to cash in on fans desperate to watch tonight’s game.

Liverpool expressed concern about the humidity in Athens but were quick to point out that they had prepared for the weather by spending a week training in Spain before flying to Greece.

Energy-sapping conditions at the Olympic Stadium tonight could rule out a repeat of the Champions League final when Milan and Liverpool met two years ago in Istanbul in a 3-3 thriller that the English side won on penalties.

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