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FOOTBALL: EUROPEAN CUP FINAL: Pirlo must be stopped.


IT GOES without saying that Steven Gerrard has a key role to play in Istanbul.

Playing as the midfield spearhead with Xabi Alonso and possibly Dietmar Hamann behind him, he will look to get on the end of things, but perhaps more importantly he will be charged with stopping Milan playing.

How can he do this? Stop Andrea Pirlo.

Yes, Milan are a team full of stars, but it is Pirlo who gives them the ball and Gerrard will be the nearest Liverpool player to him for most of the match.

Djibril Cisse gets my vote to start too. Milan Baros is quick, but Cisse is lightning, and that leads to another tactical ploy.

As everybody knows, Cafu loves to bomb on down the right. It is one of Milan's strengths, but a potential weakness too.

If I were Rafael Benitez, I'd say to Cisse to let Cafu go - Liverpool have John Arne Riise and Djimi Traore to handle him. Once Cafu goes forward, Cisse should split wide into the space he leaves, dragging Stam or Nesta away from the middle.

Cisse will have a big space on the right-hand side of the team to run into.

As PSV showed, Milan are vulnerable to quick forwards running at them with the ball. If Alonso can pull the strings, Cisse, Luis Garcia and Gerrard must do this at every opportunity.

Should they get it right, think they'll run the legs off Milan and take the trophy back to Liverpool for keeps
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 25, 2005
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