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UEFA Cup fever grips Manchester

More than 9,000 Zenit St Petersburg fans are arriving in Manchester for the big match with Glasgow Rangers. Zenit are just one step away from winning the UEFA Cup and becoming only the second Russian football club to clinch the prestigious silverware. Bac

Manchester's streets are thronging with those who managed to get their visas – which were given free due to a special dispensation from the British Embassy – in time.

In total, 9,000 Zenit fans are expected to arrive and the figure would have been higher if it wasn’t for spiralling flight prices that have risen above $US 2,000 to travel from Russia to England.

For those who come without match tickets, Manchester’s authorities have set up special fan zones where the match will be shown on big outdoor screens.

They’re sure to get used – with an estimated 100,000 Rangers fans expected to arrive from Scotland.

Meanwhile, in Russia’s northern capital all sport bars are completely booked for the evening. Many cafes and restaurants have also installed large plasma screens to attract more customers.

Local bookmakers say clients have been storming their offices lately – most of them betting on Zenit.

And Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already confided his plans to watch the game to journalists.

“I will definitely watch it. I have an appointment with Constitutional Court Chairman Zorkin later in the day but after that, of course, we'll watch the game. I hope our side wins,” he said.

Today’s game starts at 22.45 Moscow time (18.45 GMT).

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