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Make some noise: how FA Cup finalists can get an edge at an empty Wembley | Ben Fisher

With so much at stake in the FA Cup final, how will players prepare and gain an advantage in an empty Wembley?

It is a staple of the football calendar but on Saturday, for the first time since its inception almost 150 years ago, the FA Cup final will be played behind closed doors before a few hundred spectators, from media to scoreboard operators and stewards. The lowest final attendance is estimated to be about 1,500 in 1876, a replay between Wanderers and Old Etonians at the Oval. Unwanted history will be made.

With so much at stake, how can players prepare and even possibly gain an advantage? At the League One play-off final, winners Wycombe used psychological techniques to ready their players. Pre-match motivational messages were played from people including AP McCoy, Anthony Joshua and Laurel, a cleaner at the training ground. They used visualisation, asking players to envisage celebrating alongside the captain, Matt Bloomfield, at the final whistle, and substitutes moonlighted as supporters at the request of their manager, Gareth Ainsworth, and his assistant, Richard Dobson, inspired by the approach of the England rugby union coach, Eddie Jones.

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