Liverpool ready for marathon Madrid trip

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Liverpool were setting off at lunchtime today for an epic 24-hour overland journey to Madrid for Thursday's Europa League semi-final.

The continuing problems caused by the volcanic ash will see the team take three separate trains to the south of France before a short flight to Madrid. The marathon trip includes an overnight stop-over in Paris tonight.

UEFA have confirmed that the Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid will go ahead as planned, as will Fulham's semi-final in Hamburg.

Liverpool officials hope other options for flying to Madrid from the middle of France may become available but the current plan is to travel by train to London, take the Eurostar to Paris and then tomorrow morning a TGV train to Bordeaux and fly from there across the Pyrenees to Madrid.

The journey will begin with a coach trip from Liverpool's training ground to a station in the north-west making it a real planes, trains and automobiles experience.

UEFA said in a statement: "UEFA is continuing to closely monitor the travel situation throughout Europe and beyond, in an effort to confirm the staging of a number of matches that are due to take place this week in UEFA competitions.

"Regarding the UEFA Europa League semi-final first-leg matches scheduled for Thursday 22 April, between Club Atletico de Madrid and Liverpool FC, and Hamburg SV and Fulham FC, it is planned that both games will go ahead as normal."

Both the Champions League matches between Inter Milan and Barcelona tonight and Bayern Munich v Lyon tomorrow are going ahead with the visiting teams travelling overland by coach.

UEFA has postponed Sunday's Women's Champions League semi-final decider between Swedish side Umea IK and Lyon however.