|AC Milan v Liverpool |
|Champions League final|
Date: Wednesday, 23 May
Kick-off: 1945 BST
Venue: Olympic Stadium, Athens
Watch (in UK): ITV1 and Sky Sports One
Listen: BBC Radio Five Live
Updates: BBC Sport website and mobile
Liverpool's Boudewijn Zenden is set to be passed fit for the Champions League final against AC Milan.
The winger has been doubtful with an ankle injury, but should be available to start on the left side.
Reds boss Rafael Benitez said: "He looks like he will be OK, he has trained and I expect him to be fit."
Benitez is expected to play a five-man midfield with skipper Steven Gerrard likely to occupy a supporting role to lone striker Dirk Kuyt.
News conference: Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez
Report: Anfield faithful descend on Athens
Interview: Owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks
Interview: Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry
AC Milan fielded virtually a second-string side in their 3-2 defeat to Udinese at the San Siro on Saturday.
The Italians have been boosted by the return from a knee injury of veteran defender Paolo Maldini, who will play in his eighth final.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti's biggest task is between Filippo Inzaghi and Alberto Gilardino to play up front.
Ancelotti admitted he has already decided who will lead the line but was keeping his cards close to his chest.
"Inzaghi scores more goals, but Gilardino's support work is better," he said. "I've already decided on my team but I haven't told the players yet.
"Everyone deserves to play, not only the eleven who start the match. We will have to play our own game in the knowledge it will be difficult to play the ball around against a team that gives very little space.
"But I can say that the squad is in good shape. We have worked well, and we are ready for Wednesday."
Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant looks likely to start the match on the right, just two years after he was in prison for motoring offences, while Harry Kewell is on standby if Zenden does not make it.
Momo Sissoko has been struggling with injury but even if he is passed fit he is likely to miss out on a midfield slot.
But Liverpool's first-choice keeper Jose Reina and back-up Jerzy Dudek have both shaken off injuries.
Reina will join a select band of just three father and sons who have appeared in European Cup finals.
Miguel Sanchez and his son, also Miguel, achieved that feat for Real Madrid, Cesare and Paolo Maldini did so for Milan, and now Miguel and Jose Reina, for Atletico Madrid and Liverpool.
German official Herbert Fandel will referee Wednesday's game in the Olympic Stadium.
Fandel, 43, has been in charge of three of Liverpool's Champions League matches - the last being the 1-0 defeat by Barcelona at Anfield in March - and he has handled five Milan matches in the European Cup.
Carsten Kadach and Volker Wezel are assistant referees, with Florian Meyer the fourth official.
BIG MATCH STATS
Definitions of terms used:-
Champions League (CL) - only group phase matches and beyond of this competition which began in 1992-93.
Champions Cup/Champions League - all matches played since it began in 1955-56 including qualification matches.
European matches - all matches played in the major European tournaments (Fairs Cup, Uefa Cup, Cup Winners' Cup, Champions Cup, Champions League).
Uefa Super Cups, Intertoto Cups and the old Intercontinental Cup competition are excluded.
AC Milan and Liverpool's only previous meeting in European competition was the epic Champions League final of 2005, which ended in a 3-3 draw. The English club had recovered from a 3-0 half-time deficit, and eventually won 3-2 on penalties.
Eight of AC Milan's starting eleven that night - Dida, Cafu, Maldini, Nesta, Kaka, Pirlo, Gattuso and Seedorf - are still with the club, as is second half substitute Serginho. Milan's opening goal in that final was scored by Paolo Maldini after just 53 seconds and is one of only two first minute goals in a Champions Cup/Champions League final, the other (timing in seconds is unknown) was scored by Real Madrid's Enrique Mateos in the 1959 final. Maldini's goal also made him the oldest Champions Cup/Champions League goalscorer at 36 years 333 days. Nine of Liverpool players that started that final - Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Alonso, Luis Garcia, Gerrard and Kewell - are still at the club.
AC Milan have played one other European final against an English club. They defeated Leeds 1-0 in the 1973 Cup Winners' Cup. Liverpool have played two other European finals against Italian clubs, winning one and losing one. They won the 1984 Champions Cup against AS Roma 4-2 on penalties, having drawn 1-1 after 120 minutes. The Merseysiders were defeated 0-1 by Juventus in the climax to the 1985 Champions Cup.
AC Milan have played in 13 European finals, winning eight and losing five. In the Champions Cup/Champions League, they have played in 10 previous finals, winning six and losing four.
Liverpool have played in 10 European finals, winning eight and losing two. In the Champions Cup/Champions League, the Merseysiders have only lost once in six finals.
Current European form
Both clubs have lost three Champions League matches this season. Milan succumbed to AEK Athens, Lille and Manchester United, while Liverpool were defeated by Galatasaray, Barcelona and Chelsea.
Both clubs entered the competition in the third qualifying round, and repeated history. The last two teams to reach the final coming from qualifying were Liverpool in 2004-05 and AC Milan in 2002-03.
Player and disciplinary info
Paolo Maldini will be playing in his eighth Champions Cup/Champions League final, equalling the record set by Real Madrid's "Paco" Gento in the 1950s and 1960s.
Alessandro Costacurta can become the fourth man to play in at least six finals and Clarence Seedorf can become the 11th to play in at least five.
Both Costacurta and Maldini can win the competition for the fifth time, one short of Gento's record of six. The only other players to have won it five times are Alfredo di Stefano and Jose Zarraga.
Paolo Maldini (38) will be the oldest player ever to captain a Champions Cup/Champions League team if he plays. He will break the 46 year old record set by Barcelona goalkeeper Antonio Ramallets (36) in 1961. Alessandro Costacurta (41) can become the oldest outfield player ever in a Champions Cup/Champions League final.
Maldini is the only Italian to have played 100 Champions League matches. He reached his century in the first leg of this year's second round match against Celtic.
Clarence Seedorf can become the first player to win four Champions League titles.
Jamie Carragher is Liverpool's most experienced player in the Champions League with 52 appearances, one ahead of his team mate John Arne Riise. Luis Garcia has scored 10 goals in the Champions League, more than any other Liverpool player.
Other miscellaneous facts
This match will be AC Milan's 300th in European competition. If they score two goals they will have recorded 500 in European competition. They also need to score three times to record 350 in Champions Cup/Champions League matches.
The 2007 Champions League final will be the 58th match of the season for both clubs.
Six Liverpool players have played in at least 48 matches for the club this season. The list is headed by Jermaine Pennant (50) and completed by Reina, Carragher, Gerrard (49 each), Xabi Alonso and Peter Crouch (48 each).
The AC Milan players with the most appearances this season are Clarence Seedorf (49), Andrea Pirlo (48) and Marek Jankulovski (47).
AC Milan head coach Carlo Ancelotti is one of only five people to have won this competition as a player and a coach. He won as a player with AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 and as a coach in 2003.
Both head coaches are going for their second triumph in the Champions Cup/Champions League. Liverpool's Bob Paisley is the only manager to have won the competition three times (1977, 1978 and 1981). Current head coach Rafael Benitez has now reached a European final in three of the last four seasons. He won the previous two with Valencia (Uefa Cup 2004) and Liverpool (Champions League 2005).
Liverpool can equal AC Milan's six Champions Cup/Champions League wins. Only Real Madrid (nine) have more. The Spanish record of 11 Champions Cup/Champions League titles will be equalled, regardless of which club wins the match. Both Italy and England currently have 10. If Liverpool win, Spain's record of 29 European titles will be equalled by English clubs.
Athens is the third city to host the Champions League Final twice. Munich (1993 and 1997) and Saint-Denis (2000 and 2006) have also served as the venue on more than one occasion. In 1993-94, AC Milan thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the final at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The Greek capital also welcomed the 1982-83 Champions Cup final (when Hamburg beat Juventus 1-0), and the 1986-87 Cup Winners' Cup final (when Ajax prevailed against Lokomotiv Leipzig 1-0).
Players with fond memories of the stadium are Paolo Maldini, who played in the 1993-94 final, and Alessandro Costacurta, who was a part of Milan's winning campaign that season, but was suspended for the final. Also Liverpool's Javier Mascherano, because on 28 August 2004, he won an Olympic gold medal for Argentina, beating Paraguay in the final of the Athens Summer Games. With only the final to conclude the 2006-07 season, it is possible that the average attendance record will be broken. The previous 124 matches in this season's main competition have drawn 5,494,359 spectators for an average of 44,309 per match. The season record in the Champions League (since 1992-93) was set in 1993-94 at 44,413 spectators per match. This year's showpiece needs to draw 57,270 to break that record. A sell-out would number approximately 63,800, although the stadium has a capacity of 71,000, of which roughly 90% has been made available for the CL final. Big Match Stats source: Infostrada Sports
The Weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the Strong." - Ghandi.