Fans on guard in Turin test of security

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of police and Juventus supporters massed in Turin's centre yesterday before the Champions' League quarter-final tie against Liverpool which officials feared could provoke violence.

Hundreds of police and Juventus supporters massed in Turin's centre yesterday before the Champions' League quarter-final tie against Liverpool which officials feared could provoke violence.

Only a handful of Liverpool fans - few wearing the club's colours - walked around in the afternoon sun, braving threats from some Juventus fans who had promised a "vendetta" for the Heysel stadium disaster when 39 people, most of them Italian, died.

English supporters stayed in neighbouring towns and travelled straight to the Stadio Delle Alpi for the two sides' first meeting in Italy since the 1985 European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool when a charge by Liverpool supporters triggered tragedy in Brussels.

"It will be a battle, in every sense. On and off the pitch," said Angelo, 20, a Juventus fan who travelled from the southern region of Basilicata for the game. "I don't want any problems but I expect there will be trouble because so many people are looking for a fight."

A large proportion of the tickets reserved for Liverpool fans have gone unsold.

When the two sides met at Anfield for the first leg last week, Liverpool fans tried to make peace with Juventus. But some Italians turned their backs during the commemorations and raised their middle fingers.

Since their club's 2-1 defeat Juve fans' internet message boards have carried increasingly threatening comments.

On Tuesday night, one Liverpool fan suffered minor head injuries after a clash with local supporters in Turin. Police arrested six Italian men - identified as Ultras by an Italian news agency - and seized baseball bats from their cars.

Turin police said the attack occurred late on Tuesday after a group of Juventus fans entered a pub in the city centre where some Liverpool fans were drinking.

The Liverpool fan, whose name was not released, was hit in the head by a bat. He suffered minor head injuries and was treated on the scene.

Turin's mayor has appealed for calm. The local newspaper La Stampa told Juve fans on Wednesday that "the only revenge is to eliminate Liverpool".

"I have felt the terrible consequences of violence. I know what it means. So this evening leave hatred and everything else behind," Andrea Lorentini, the 22-year-old son of a young doctor killed at Heysel, said.

Italian media have said some 1,100 police and special forces officers were to be deployed in the city centre and around the stadium for the match.

"Nothing can wipe out a wound like Heysel," the Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero said. "But Liverpool and its people made their apology during the first leg. It would be a wise and intelligent gesture to accept."

Local authorities have imposed a 48-hour alcohol ban in the city and advised Liverpool fans to keep a low profile and to stay in well-policed areas.

"We were given leaflets and told to stay clear of the train station," said Liverpool-born David Chesterton, wearing a red Liverpool shirt and carrying a scarf with both teams' names.

"It's not a question of being afraid but there's always a small minority you have to be wary of."

Last night's match was a key security test for Turin authorities who host the Winter Olympics next year and have been criticised for the planning and financial handling of the Games.

* Uefa has said it will not instigate proceedings against the Milan striker Andrei Shevchenko for an incident in Tuesday night's Champions' League match where the Ukrainian appeared to head-butt his Internazionale opponent Marco Materazzi in the Champions' League quarter-final on Tuesday. A Uefa spokesman said that after viewing the match video, it appeared that the incident occurred in front of the assistant referee, who did not indicate anything to referee Markus Merk.

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