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Liverpool embark on odyssey to Madrid

LIVERPOOL are due to finally arrive in Madrid this afternoon, more than 24 hours after they and Fulham both embarked on mammoth journeys in order to reach their Europa League semi-finals.

The Reds, who face Atletico Madrid tomorrow night, began an odyssey by road, rail and air yesterday afternoon. A handful of coach rides, three train trips and a flight later, they are due to touch down in the Spanish capital.

Fulham, who also play their first leg tomorrow against Hamburg, set off on what was expected to be a 12-hour coach journey from London yesterday.

Both teams had intended to fly to their destinations but were forced to draw up contingency plans after the disruption to air travel caused by the cloud of volcanic ash over northern Europe continued into midweek.

Liverpool started out by taking a coach to nearby Runcorn, where they were forced to slum it alongside the public by taking a train to Euston.

From there they boarded another coach for the shortest of trips to St Pancras, before leaving London for France on the Eurostar.

They arrived in Paris yesterday evening and promptly retired to their hotel, ready for an early train to Bordeaux this morning, from where they are due to fly on to Spain. However, easing air travel restrictions could yet mean Liverpool fly direct from Paris to Spain today.

Fulham, meanwhile, took a coach to Folkestone, where they travelled by train through the tunnel to Calais. The Cottagers then re re-boarded the coach for the remainder of the journey to Germany.

England cricketers avoid 72-hour slog
THE England cricket team look set to avoid a gruelling 72-hour trek to the West Indies after British airspace was reopened last night.

It had been feared they would have to travel by land and sea to Dubai before flying to the Caribbean for the World Twenty20, which starts next week.

The International Cricket Council will announce its travel plans this morning but England chiefs can now expect to fly to Barbados on Sunday, as planned. England face Bangladesh in a warm-up on Wednesday before the tournament starts on 30 April.