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BBC Radio Manchester Features
Ian prepares to ride the rollercoaster
City's European tour: Hamburg with Cheesy
Manchester City have made it to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and Ian Cheeseman is off on the road again. It's a return to Germany, where he visited back in November for the game against Schalke - this time, he's off to the northern city of Hamburg.
Day 2: Handballing Hamburgers
I'm not alone on this trip. For the first time, I have my commentary sidekick, Fred Eyre, with me and it didn't take him long to sample the local cuisine - bratwurst.
Fred enjoying his bratwurst
We flew into Germany via Hannover from Manchester, which I see as a bit of luxury, having spent many of these European trips heading for a far-flung airports at both ends of the journey.
We arrived in Hamburg in mid-afternoon and immediately became better acquainted with the city by meeting up with Thorsten Tschirner, our representative from the tourist office, who recommended a few places to visit, including the harbour boat tour, which we plan to take on match day.
I'd been led to believe that our hotel was close to the stadium and it is – except it’s the wrong stadium! The Arena Hotel is next to the Pony and Trap Racing Arena, rather than the HSH Nordbank Arena. This meant more walking around, with all my equipment in tow, than planned. Fred was worn out by the time we checked in, and his dodgy knee was swelling up rapidly.
Not like the Faroes: the press gather in Hamburg
Still, at least he could rest up for a while, as en route to the hotel, we'd called in at the Nordbank for the press conference, where Mark Hughes spoke of his growing excitement as the competition reaches its climax and Micah Richards told us that he thought that city could live up to their position as favourites and go on to win the cup.
There's a noticeable growth in media interest too, now that we've got down to the last eight and for the first time, there was a UEFA representative conducting affairs and huge numbers in the audience – it’s a long way from what we had in the Faroes last July!
After the interviews, I rushed up to the press box - and what a view by the way - only to find a security guard telling me I couldn't be there. While I tried to persuade him that I had a right to send my interviews back, I slyly did it anyway, so all was well in the end.
As we came out of the stadium, there were supporters with HSV scarves heading past us, so I asked where they were off to and was told there was a big handball game in the arena next to the stadium.
In the thick of it: HSV taking on TBV
After escorting a now limping Fred back to the Hotel - I left him watching Liverpool being beaten by Chelsea in the comfort of the bar – I headed back to watch the latter stages of the handball. It was worth the effort, with the 12,000 fans packed into the very impressive, steep-sided indoor arena creating an electrifying atmosphere.
No wonder they beat TBV Lemgo 32-24. If the Hamburg footballers get that sort of backing, it certainly won't be easy for City tomorrow night.
Back at the hotel, I chatted with Fred and Peter Clark, the interpreter who had overseen the Mark Hughes press conference earlier. It turns out he's Fabio Capello's personal English teacher and spends three mornings a week teaching him the finer points of conversing with us Brits.
Not lost for words: Cheesy and Peter Clark
We can all see what a great job he's done with Capello, so he must be good at his job. And even though I pushed him on it, he denied that he's trying to teach Stuart Pearce the same skills – after all, I'm sure even he would find that too difficult!
So it's all systems go for the biggest game of City's UEFA Cup campaign so far - I'm excited, nervous and feel like a small boy waiting for Christmas!
Bring on Hamburg!!!
Ian Cheeseman's - and Manchester City's - European tour continues...
There's full match commentary of Hamburg v City live on BBC Radio Manchester from 7.30pm on Thursday 9 April
last updated: 10/04/2009 at 11:31