Reuters Soccer Blog goes to Athens

May 21, 2007

A view of the Athens Olympic Stadium

I’m on my way to Athens tomorrow for the Champions League final and I’ll be blogging throughout the 48-hour trip. For those of you who can’t be there I’ll try and give a feel of what it’s like at the stadium and around town, as thousands of fans converge on the city. If it’s anything like Istanbul two years ago it should be pretty spectacular.

Soccerlens predicts a “hard, grinding” match, much like the the FA Cup final by the sound of it, while Alberto Sithole at Sportingo seems convinced that Milan will win. What do you think we’re in for?

I’m hoping for another classic. I’ve been lucky enough to cover two of the most exciting European Cup finals in history for Reuters (Man Utd 2 Bayern Munich 1 in Barcelona in 1999 and Liverpool’s win over Milan in 2005). Having said that, I’ve also been there for one of the worst (Milan’s penalties victory over Juventus after a goalless draw in Manchester in 2003).

I’ll be with you as of mid-afternoon on Tuesday in Athens, provided my last-minute bucketshop plane ticket turns out to be valid. We’ll see…

Kevin Fylan, Berlin


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Well I visitied Liverpool at the weekend and the atmosphere was all abuzz, especially after such a dismal showing by the top two in the FA cup final on Staurday.

50 per cent of the city has Liverpool in Athens flags on their cars and every other window bears a Liverpool FC flag.

Posted by Welsh Goth | Report as abusive

Well Southend isn’t exactly buzzing like that but it is in my little corner of the Essex Riviera resort. Totally agree about the dismal cup final. I watched it down the pub and most people were deep in conversation rather than watching the game. The game of course was always going to be a mere prelude to the main event on Wednesday evening and the topic of conversation for most of the game was the big cup final on Wednesday and how pleasing it was that Chelsea hadn’t qualified.

Liverpool’s last few cup final results point towards a good game:-
3:3 2006 W Ham FA Cup
2:3 Chel$ki Carling Cup
3:3 2005 Milan Big Cup
5:4 2001 Alaves UEFA Cup Golden
2:1 2001 Arsenal FA Cup
3:2 2001 Bayern München Super Cup
1:1 2001 Birmingham Carling Cup

The wife’s washed my lucky shirt, it’s nicely ironed and I can almost taste the first pint of the evening.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

No live coverage on normal TV here, and I don’t have satellite, so will have to rely on internet. Anyone know a good site?

Posted by London | Report as abusive

I’m so nervous. I wanna change my nickname to 6x! 😀

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

You jammy git! I’ll be driving back north from Warwickshire, probably listening to the first half on the radio before reaching the pub in the closing minutes of the first half. I imagine I’ll arrive just before Liverpool extend their lead to 2-0, and my boyfriend wins on the fruit machine and announces the beers are on him and we’ll get a curry on the way home.

Posted by fiona | Report as abusive

Seeing as this is turning into the “Where are you watching it?” thread. Five Times (and anyone else): Where are you watching it?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Good spot on the Liverpool finals, Jim. Six classics/thrillers in a row. Anything less than 2-2, extra-time, penatlies is going to seem a bit disappointing.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I’m watching deep in the heart of enemy territory – or Didsbury, as it’s known locally.

Two years ago the pub flooded at half time with gloating Man U fans and by the end of extra time I feared for my honour.

Can I beg the red devils of didsbury to stay at home if you’re coming out to support a team not taking part.

Posted by Welsh Goth | Report as abusive

I shall be watching the match here in Milan and if the possible celebrations are anything like they were when Italy won the World is going to be a very long night.
For any Liverpool fans trapped in Milan then I suggest you try the appropriately named “English pub” in the centre of town if you want to avoid being pelted with spaghetti

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

I too will be in enemy territory in Manchester.

That said, I’ll be wearing the same lucky socks as 05 and we’re getting there early so I can sit on the same rickety, deeply uncomfortable seat…the one with my back to all the Manyoo fans.

I’d start now if the pub’d let me stay there and wait.

Posted by Hercules | Report as abusive

I couldn’t stand to stay in Manchester for the game and not just because of my appaling luck watching Liverpool in Manchester pubs. I will be leaving work as early as possible to catch the train to Liverpool and get to the pub where I watched the 2005 final. The only difference this year is I’m taking Thursday off cos win or lose I’m gonna be a mess.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

Welsh Goth, Hercules and Carraristotle: Great to see you following the same pre-match ritual. As I said on another post, I wonder if Rafa Benitez will do the same thing by picking Harry Kewell…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Didi Hamann seems to have inspired a lot of Germans to become Liverpool fans and there’ll be plenty in Magnet tomorrow, a soccer bar next to the Weinberg Park in Berlin Mitte where we’ll be watching the match. It was quite stirring when they turned the volume up full blast for the rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before the Chelsea semi-final match at Anfield.

Posted by Iain | Report as abusive

I’m jealous you got to Athens. I will be wrapping myself in my Liverpool FC flag and watching on telly from my Berlin living room. As usual, will hide behind the sofa when it comes to penalty shoot out. Can’t wait though.

Posted by Henrietta | Report as abusive

I’ll have to do an awful deal with my wife to be able to even watch this on TV on the sofa. I’ll have to endure 3 boring hours of “Germany’s Next Top Model” on Thursday night — it’s the final there too — in order to see the “other” final tomorrow night.

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

Erik: I would watch Germanys Next Top Model all week if Liverool win so suck up the sacrifice and dream of number 6.

Kevin: Can’t see Rafa startin Kewell as although he has played well in the last couple he can’t be match fit. Is Kewell ever truely match fit anyway.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

Carraristotle, that’s a suitably philosophical question on Kewell. No, I don’t think he’ll start either. Suspect will be zenden on the left.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Kewell limped out of last years FA cup final and of course he limped out of the 2005 Milan final. Of course he’s going to start…he’s the lucky mascot.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Is anyone feeling any less sick yet? I have no idea how I’m going to fill my day cos work is definitely out the window. Gonna make a huge vat of coffee then surf and email my way through the day until it’s time to catch my train.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

I have just read that Pirlo and Mascherano have played each other before in a major game in Athens. It was the Olympic semi final which Argentina won 3 – 0 and Masch was a constant thorn in Pirlo’s side stopping him from having any genuine impact on the game.

Here’s hoping for a repeat performance from Monster Masch!

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

I’ll be watching it at a pub in town, which has been adopted as an unofficial liverpool fans pub.
Its also the same pub where almost a hundred Liverpool fans went crazy on that eventful night in 2005.

Lots of singing, lots of drinks, it’ll be a mini-kop on the other side of the world from the real kop.


Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

It’s funny how many fans have ‘Mascherano’ on the backs of their shirts. He’s only outranked by Gerrard on that score, from what I can see. It’s an interesting point about him keeping Pirlo quiet. I wonder if he’ll be asked to do that again, or if Rafa will tell him to look after Kaka.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

As Liverpool tend to mark zones rather than individual players I think Mascherano will be there to break up the attack of however comes through the middle. This is good as most Milan attacks tend to come through the middle rather than having wide attacking players.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

I’m struggling to understand why Milan are favourites for the game. The more I think about it the more convince I am that Liverpool should win.

1. Milan are an old side and there has to be a question mark over whether they, as a team, can perform over 90 minutes or longer, particlualry if it’s a hot sticky evening.

2. They have the mental scars of Istanbul to overcome.

3. Liverpool have beaten Barcelona and Chel$ki on the way to the final – the two pre tournament favourites.

4. Milan haven’t exactly had a a rip-roaring season. They’ve only won 19 of 37 league games and even without their 8 point deduction would still be 25 points behind leaders Inter.

5. Without wantiing to put the mockers on Reina, Dida is a dodgy keeper.

6. Liverpool will have overwhelming support in the stadium.

The only downside is the referee…. their record with the 43-year-old officiating reads played three, won none, lost two, goals zero. By contrast, each of the five Milan games he has refereed ended in wins for the Rossoneri, with only one goal conceded.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Carraristotle – such wisdom as befits your title.

Incidentally (re: Five Times) my brother, who for the purposes of this blog I will refer to as “Iphicles”, has adopted a pub in Tokyo to watch the match. It’s one of those terrible English themed places, but as he put it, it serves bitter and they’ve agreed to stay open all night – for kick off at 4.45am….

One of my colleagues honestly just said I’d better be careful not to text him the result then…LOL

Posted by Hercules | Report as abusive

To carry on Jim’s theme

7. Milan have only won half of their Champions league games this season and while Liverpool were in Barcalona dominating the favourites Milan were limping past Celtic.

This is not the dominant team most pundits seem to think they are. It’s all based on the demolition of Man United who had a defence I would have fancied my chances against.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

Off catch my train to Liverpool now which is good cos I can bearly sit still.

Enjoy the game, sing your hearts out and lets all dream of number six.

Posted by Carraristotle | Report as abusive

So we were all wrong: Jermaine Pennant is the surprise choice in a 4-5-1. Zenden on the left. Kewell on the bench.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive