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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Liverpool ready for AC Milan test
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
AC Milan and Liverpool fans mix in Istanbul
Wednesday 25 May
Kick-off 1945 BST
Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul (Capacity: 70,000)
Coverage on BBC Radio Five Live and this website
Liverpool are poised for their biggest match in 20 years when they meet Italy's AC Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The Reds are England's most successful club in Europe with four European Cup victories in five attempts.

They last made the final of Europe's top club competition in 1985 but the match with Juventus was marred by the death of 39 fans in riots.

AC Milan have a superior European record having won the title six times.

Up to 30,000 Liverpool fans are set to descend on Istanbul for the Champions League final against AC Milan.

About 20,000 will watch the game in the Ataturk Stadium while thousands more, unable to get tickets off touts, will throng the streets of the city.

The early arrivals partied noisily but a consulate-general spokesman confirmed: "There were no incidents."

The last of 42 flights in three days from Liverpool John Lennon Airport's leaves later on Wednesday morning.

It will be the proudest moment of my life to lead Liverpool out in the final of the Champions League
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard

Liverpool's last European title came against AS Roma in Rome 21 years ago and they also won the European Cup, the forerunner to the Champions League final, in 1977, 1978 and 1981.

AC Milan have reached the final nine times and the most recent of their six wins came two years ago against Juventus on penalties.

The Rossoneri's key men will be arguably the world's best defender and striker, Paolo Maldini and Andriy Shevchenko.

For Liverpool, inspirational captain Steven Gerrard will lead from midfield, while defender Jamie Carragher has emerged as a pivotal force and will attempt to shackle Shevchenko.

"It will be the proudest moment of my life to lead Liverpool out in the final of the Champions League," said Gerrard.

Liverpool beat Italian champions Juventus and then English Premiership winners Chelsea to book their final berth.

But Benitez's side finished the English Premiership in fifth place and would miss out on a spot in next year's Champions League under current Uefa rules.

The English Football Association is fighting to extend the number of automatic places in the competition to five next year, should Liverpool win the trophy.

But Uefa spokesman William Gaillard told The Times on Tuesday: "There will be four English teams in the Champions League next season - that's the bottom line."




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