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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Champions League final build-up
As the tension built in Istanbul and amongst Liverpool fans from all corners of the globe ahead of Wednesday's Champions League final against AC Milan, our team of reporters, pundits and fans kept BBC Sport in the picture...


1902: Owen, via 606 message boards
Starting with Baros. What are you doing Rafa? Get Cisse on. Did he not prove enough to you against Villa? You could have just lost us the game before a ball has been kicked.

1900: Luther, via text
Outside the stadium now with my mate Az, who has just bought a ticket off a fellow scouser for 1200 Turkish lira, about 500 quid I think. Well worth it.

1858: AC Milan team:
Dida, Cafu, Stam, Nesta, Maldini, Pirlo, Seedorf, Kaka, Gattuso, Crespo, Shevchenko.

1852: BBC News reporter Sally Nugent in Liverpool Supporters' Club

The atmosphere here is unbelievable. Everyone is in a fantastic mood. The streets are quiet and outside here there is not a car on the road. Quite simply, everyone is inside, getting ready to watch the game.

1841: Liverpool team: Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Luis Garcia, Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Riise, Kewell, Baros.

1830: BBC Five Live match commentator Alan Green
It is cold and it is windy. This could be Anfield in February. Liverpool fans will form the majority of the committed fans in the stadium and they are still trying to get their heads round the fact that Kewell will play instead of Hamann.

1821: Liverpool fan, via text Istanbul is buzzing. The game is going to be absolutely amazing! Come on you boys, do us proud!

1814: Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan team arrive at the Ataturk Stadium.

1757: A, via 606 message boards
I'll be off to the pub here in LA in just a little while. Reading the build up here on the BBC website I found myself in tears. Guess it brings back memories of when I was little and Liverpool were winning everything

1752: James Pearce, BBC News
They have just opened the gates of the stadium so fans who have got to the ground early can start going in. Liverpool's fans have been exceptional, so good natured, and there has not been a hint of trouble. And they are so confident of winning, probably because of the calibre of teams they have beaten to get here, including Juventus and Chelsea.

1748: Alex G, Everton fan, via text
Tom, snap out of it! Even as an objective fellow Blue, I have to hope Milan's superior quality means they will be lifting the cup tonight.

1745: Vicky, via text
Traffic is ludicrous. Solid. People are getting out and walking to the stadium.

1740: BBC Five Live's Mark Pougatch

I have to say that this is a ridiculous place to stage the final of a competition like this. We are on the edge of the continent and in a city where it is so hard for fans to get in and out. But Liverpool fans seem to have heeded the warnings and have got to the stadium in plenty of time.

Wind can be the enemy of good football and it is blowing hard, with the two ends open. The conditions underfoot will be alright, I just hope the wind doesn't play too big a part.

1734: Tom, via text I'm a Toffee man, and even I'm excited. For the first time in my life I'll be cheering the Reds. What's happening to me?! We'll be here next year though!

1724: Stan, via text Been ripped off on a ticket, flight and even beer. Stadium is a dump with no facilities and it's freezing. Why here?

1717: Alan, via text: Has anyone seen our Matty over there? He's in a red Liverpool footy top.

1715: Noel, via 606 message boards From across the ocean my heart, soul, spirit and everything else are with Liverpool. Can't keep away from your fans' text comments. This part of Seattle proudly walks along with you, hopefully in triumph.

1711: Graham Taylor, BBC Sport football pundit

Across the back four for Milan there is an age issue and people have picked up on that. It could be that Cisse could give them problems with his pace. But, while everyone is up for Liverpool winning, they must not underestimate what is a very very experienced and very very talented Milan side.

1707: Scott, via text
Am I happy that I got the pool at 250-1 before the Olympiakos game!

1700: Mark, London, via text
I'm watching the match in the Mayor's chambers as I'm going to be stuck in a council meeting. They've promised to call me in for votes.

1650: Jon, Knockholt, via text
I know I shouldnt have, but I just put 2,500 on a Liverpool win. I'm dead nervous now, but I know my boys can do it. "When you walk...".

1645: BBC Five Live's Jane Garvey
It's getting very busy around the stadium and the fans are enjoying some music - at least I think they are. Queuing for the toilets and programmes seems to be the currrent top hobby, although there are also some penalty competitions going on.

1640: R&S, Istanbul, via text
We agree with Jane (Garvey). Even worse, it will take three hours to get back to town. Who picks these places? A two-hour wait for a programme. Come on you Reds!

1635: Aidan, Herts, via text
When changing my boy's nappy he wet my Liverpool shirt. But I still haven't washed it and it must be lucky - we've won all games since. Now for one last lucky, smelly night.

1630: Salvatori, Istanbul, via text
I'm in Turkey supporting my team, Milan! The mood here is not very good as a rumuor is going around that Andriy Shevchenko is a substitute!

1625: BBC Five Live's Matt Williams
We're on one of the last buses to leave Taksim Square. The chants are pretty choice - particularly if your name's Gary Neville - and there's a great atmosphere on board.

1620: Vish, Edinburgh, via text
I've been thinking about this game all the time for the last two weeks instead of my exam tomorrow, but I wouldn't mind failing it if it means that Liverpool win!

1615: BBC Five Live correspondent Alastair Yeomans
Some of the horror stories that it might take up to three hours to get from the city centre to the ground appear a little alarmist, though the biggest problem would appear to be parking as the infrastructure around the ground is still a little primitive.

A lot of the Liverpool fans have sensibly got here early and there are hundreds and hundreds of them gathered with still hours remaining before kick-off. There is an area set aside for music and entertainment and the Liverpool fans are enjoying that. The atmosphere is very friendly.

1610: Chris, Preston, via text
Sorry to the clients whose accounts I should be doing, but it's not gonna happen! Am glued to for news on our boys! Longest day of my life. I should have taken the day off.

1605: BBC Five Live's Jane Garvey at the Ataturk Stadium
This place is desolate. It's absolutely freezing, there's a gale blowing. It's a most unattractive stadium. It's not a glamorous setting. It's a dump and it's so cold.

1600: Mr T, Istanbul, via text
I've just arrived at the ground. We'd been told it would take about three hours to get here from the city centre. Rubbish - it took half-an-hour! The stadium is in a bleak, desolate spot with nothing around it - just thousands of people milling around. No bars or restaurants, but we're lucky enough to be in the hospitality area. Four hours to go to kick-off and we're just about to go and play table football with some Italians.

1555: Paul, Halifax, via text
I'm sat at work clockwatching, just waiting for 5pm to arrive and then it's down the pub with the lads. This is going to be one very special night for the boys in red and all their fans.

1545: Kerim, Istanbul, via text
I'm still in shock that we're in Istanbul. Me and the wife are a bag of nerves. Come on lads, do us proud!

1535: BBC Five Live correspondent Alastair Yeomans
We were a little puzzled when our taxi driver took a winding, back-street journey towards the stadium. Unbeknown to us, he had recognised John Toshack, the former Besiktas coach, who is co-commentating for us on Five Live tonight.

The taxi driver eventually pulled up outside a taverna owned by his brother and then ran inside to point out who he had in the back seat of his cab. Then he jumped back in and we're back on our way to the ground.

1530: Siobhan, Leeds, via text
Am that nervous I can't decide whether to watch the match at home, in the pub or on the toilet. Up the Rafa-lution.

1520: YNWA, via text
I can't believe how nervous I am - it must be the best and worst feelings in the world rolled into one! Come on Stevie G, bring that cup home where it belongs.

1515: EPP, via 606 message boards
I'm sitting at my desk at work in America singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" to myself - almost in tears with emotion and anticipation.

1505: Phil, Istanbul, via text
Work? Me and Jim are playing football games outside the ground and our boss thinks we're ill! Come on Red Men.

1500: Pal, London, via text
Am a bag of nerves at work, deffo the most unproductive day I've had in five years here. Bring on home time! Come on the Red Men - Viva Benitez!

1445: PO, via 606 message boards
I am sure Liverpool FC will do all of England proud! My partner's sister and father are en route now and I will be cheering as hard as I can at home tonight.

1440: Alistair Varese, via text
This is going to be a great match with two great European football giants! I pray Milan have rested enough and are ready for a tough match! Forza Milan!

1425: Adam Parsons, BBC TV sports correspondent
It's hard to know how many Liverpool fans are here - it could be as many as 40,000, the same as Anfield holds. They're growing increasingly confident and revelling in the anticipation and they are still arriving all the time. They won't all get into the game, but they will enjoy themselves.

1420: Mr T, Istanbul, via text
The rumour is it will take us between two and four hours to get to the ground, so we're preparing ourselves for a long haul. All the travel arrangements have been a logistical nightmare. Because it's a 2145 kick-off (local time), a lot of people - us included - will be going straight to the airport after the game. It's going to be a long night.

1410: Daz, via 606 message boards
Just leaving work to go and get changed. Then down into town to start the pre-match drinking. Come on you Reds!

1400: Alberto, via text (living in London, but from Milan)My brother has made it to the game. He says the Reds are everywhere but is is confident that the great AC will do it.

1355: Fomer Liverpool player Alan Kennedy
A lot of people I've met in Istanbul were there 20-odd years ago when I played in the 1984 European Cup final and they have similar feelings. This team has proved a lot of doubters wrong. They've played some wonderful stuff, especially in the European campaign, and I think they can go on and win it.

1340: R&S, Istanbul, via text
Have just gone through Taksim Square and got on a bus in a very short time. The police are relaxed and the square is full of Reds playing. Not many AC in sight.

1330: BBC Five Live correspondent Alastair Yeomans
The locals are totally neutral, as summed up by one of the morning papers. On one side, it reads 'Forza Milan' and on the other 'Come on you Reds'.

1315: Liverpool fan, via text
I've supported the Reds since I was a young lad in the early seventies - I've lived and breathed the glory and the disappointments! I couldn't get to Istanbul due to work commitments - trouble is I can't concentrate - I'm a waste of space today. I'm proud of our achievement this year and wish the team all the best! Let's do it for Crazy Horse - long live the Rafa-lution!

1310: Richie, via text
I'm in work constantly checking the site for team news and build-up. Don't tell the boss! My gut tells me we will win. Come on yooo Reds!

1250: Evo, via text
After going to all the home games, I am devastated not to make the trip to Istanbul. Instead, I'm a bag of nerves reading the build-up on the BBC website!

1230: JJ, via 606 message boards
Just spoke to my husband in Istanbul who probably had the longest and drawn out journey to the final. He's gone with five mates and they're videoing the whole journey - bit of a road trip. He said the atmosphere is great, everybody is having a great time and the locals are joining in.

1225: AS, via 606 message boards
I have supported Liverpool for 18 years, since I was a small child, and there has never been a bigger night. People may think that I've lost all sense of perspective but when you support a team for so long, you develop a massive emotional attachment to them, and their success and failures almost become your own success and failures.

1220: Liverpool fan, via text
Me and my friends are gutted we couldn't get tickets to the final, but we're ready and waiting in the same pub in which we saw the Reds beat Juventus and Chelsea.

1200: Prime Minister Tony Blair wishes Liverpool the "best of luck" in the first Prime Minister's Questions of the new parliament. Leader of the Opposition Michael Howard - a Reds supporter - takes "particular pleasure" in seconding his political rival's statement.

1145: Liam on Merseyside, via text
I'm just about to have a big fry-up and set off for town. The nerves have started to set in now with all the coverage kicking in.

1130: COTR, via 606 message boards
I've just bought a new Liverpool top this morning with tonight's winning goalscorer on it - Alonso. We have to win. The omens are in our favour. I'm not even contemplating losing.

1025: Liverpool fan, via text
Utter shambles at Luton Airport, with some planes to Istanbul now not due to leave until 1140, over four hours late.

1020: From SK, via text from Taksim Square
Heard a rumour the formation will be 4-4-1-1 with Kewell playing behind Cisse. My mate paid 350 for a ticket on the black market. The Milan fans are enjoying themselves with us even though they're not having a bevvie. Time for more raki I say!

0950: BBC Five Live correspondent Alastair Yeomans
This is the calm before the storm, but from what I've seen of Istanbul this city doesn't do calm. This is a huge noisy sprawling city where high-rise splendour stands alongside sprawling poverty - many people have compared it to Sao Paolo.

Liverpool fans have been listening to warnings that the usual one-hour journey from the city to the stadium could take as much as three hours. People are blaming poor infrastructure but that is a little harsh considering that at least 50,000 extra people have been dumped on this city.

0945: Uefa urges fans to allow up to three hours to get from Istanbul city centre to the Atataurk Stadium. Chief Superintendent Dave Lewis of the Merseyside police says: "Frustration with transport is going to be a problem - especially after the match."

0925: BBC Five Live's Shelagh Fogarty reports as Liverpool fans board the last Istanbul-bound flight to leave Liverpool's John Lennon Airport
The airport is swathed in Reds banners. One has a Liverpool team sheet, numbered one to 11, with Jamie Carragher against each number and the conclusion: 'If only'

Another refers to the late lamented former captain Emlyn Hughes. "Bring it home for Crazy Horse".

0910: Mr T, Istanbul, via text
Everywhere is a sea of red. The atmosphere last night was absolutely extraordinary. Every single side street off the main drag had bars packed full of Liverpool fans. It was all totally peaceful - and brilliantly handled by the local authorities. They've effectively divided the city in half, with Liverpool fans in the Asian part of the city and Milan supporters in the European parts, so we haven't see a single Italian so far...

0850: BBC Five Live's Matt Williams
Taksim Square is packed out. Police tell us there has been a minor scuffle between fans but there's generally no trouble and there's a good atmosphere with lots of singing.

0840: Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport pundit
It's good to see the build-up in Istanbul. As a player it passes you by as you're closeted in your hotel. My feelings at the moment? By hook or by crook, Liverpool are going to win.

0815: Alan Green, BBC Five Live commentator
It is an enticing possibility that Harry Kewell could redeem himself in a Liverpool shirt. He'll interchange well with Luis Garcia and Steven Gerrard will come from deeper. It's interesting and will give AC Milan something to think about - although I'm not sure it's true. A predicition? I have a conviction that Liverpool's name is on this cup.

0740: Jonathan Legard, BBC football correspondent
The big rumour is that Harry Kewell could start with Djibril Cisse in attack, they were in the same team at training last night doing a fair amount of interplay. Dietmar Hamann will be the one to miss out.

0705: Liverpool's injured goalkeeper Chris Kirkland before catching his flight to Istanbul
I'm gutted not to be involved but it's part and parcel of football and I've got to cheer the lads on now. The gaffer will have his tactics, but one thing's for sure, we can't be scared of AC Milan.

0620: Graham Taylor, BBC Sport football pundit
It's going to be a tight game, very cagey. The force is with Liverpool, and as much as my heart is telling me it's got to be Liverpool, you cannot under-estimate AC Milan. They're extremely good when they put it all together.

0615: BBC Five Live's Matt Williams
There are already hundreds of fans in the main square and clearly a lot of them haven't gone to bed. The bars are just opening now and Liverpool's day in the Turkish sun is just beginning.


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