Meringues and 'reds' storm Paris

Fans enjoying the Trophy Experience in Paris. / Christophe Petit Tesson (Efe)

Champions League Final

The fans of Real Madrid and Liverpool invade the streets of the French capital with the dream of taking home the 'orejona'

Oscar Bellot

OSCAR BELLOT Special envoy to Paris

Paris woke up this Saturday dyed white and red. Hordes of Real Madrid and Liverpool fans have stormed the streets of the French capital since Friday to attend the
Grand finale of the Champions League. The most important game of the year has turned the French metropolis into a branch divided between two of the liveliest parishes on the continent, who loaded their bags with tons of enthusiasm and a great desire to have fun.

Some five hundred people received the Real Madrid expedition on Thursday upon the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti's team at his hotel, a headquarters located in Chantilly, about 60 kilometers from the city that houses the Eiffel Tower, where the whites spend the hours before a duel with planetary repercussions that keeps the French authorities on alert.

The presence of some one hundred thousand fans of the two finalists is expected throughout the day this Saturday, for which an extensive security device has been deployed in order to avoid incidents that blur what should be a football party all the way up Not in vain, many of those fans arrive without a ticket.

Although the Stade de France has capacity for 81,338 spectators, the venue will not be filled to the brim for security reasons, but will instead be limited to 75,000 people. UEFA only set aside 20,000 tickets for Real Madrid fans and as many for Liverpool supporters, also putting some 12,000 tickets on sale for fans from all over the world. The bulk of the remaining, some 23,000, are used to satisfy the commitments of the governing body of European football with the sponsors of the continental competition, which pay hundreds of millions of euros each year to support the tournament.

'Fan zone'

That always controversial distribution of seats will mean that thousands of merengue and 'reds' fans will have to settle for participating in the celebrations that have been organized in the two 'fan zones' established by UEFA in Paris, conveniently separated to try to avoid altercations between both swellings.

The Real Madrid 'fan zone' is located in the Legion of Honour, very close to the Saint-Denis venue. It will open its doors at 12:00 p.m. this Saturday and will remain active until 5:00 p.m. There, the fans of the thirteen-time king of Europe will be able to participate in all kinds of activities before heading to the stadium to cheer on the whites shouting 'Hala Madrid!' Liverpool fans, with 'You'll never walk alone' as their main rallying cry, will gather at the Cours de Vincennes within the same time slot.

Above, the Champions League trophy, flanked by the shirts of the two finalist teams. In the other two images, Liverpool and Real Madrid fans enjoying the party. / Agencies

In addition, UEFA has organized all kinds of events in the French capital to entertain fans. The highlight is the Trophy Experience, the centerpiece of an exhibition in front of the Hotel de Ville that includes the popular UEFA Champions League official store, a giant replica of the official Adidas match ball and rotating displays of shirts signed by participating clubs. in the group stage, including, of course, those of the two brand new finalists. Visitors can also be photographed with the coveted 'orejona'.

The forecasts said that some 30,000 Real Madrid fans would travel to the city of Kylian Mbappé between Friday and Saturday and set the number of Liverpool fans who would arrive without a ticket at around 40,000. Many of them were already colorful on Friday and made themselves felt in the outskirts of the stadium, where the 'reds' shirts dominated and the beer mugs paraded in a continuous bustle, among the curiosity of the Parisians. Some looked with some suspicion at the Real Madrid fans. The soap opera starring the prodigy Bondy has opened deep wounds between Paris and Madrid, although cordiality and respect prevailed.

Liberté, egalité and, above all, fraternité waiting for the ball to roll in a Stade de France that will host the Champions League final for the third time. The two previous ones saw a Spanish team enthroned: Real Madrid, who triumphed over Valencia 3-0 in 2000 to lift their eighth 'orejona'; and Barça, who beat Arsenal 2-1 in 2006 to win the trophy for the second time. In the 'white house' they expect the streak to continue

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