Paris set for Liverpool fan invasion as Stade de France hosts Champions League final

A picture taken in Paris on May 27, 2022, shows the official ball for the UEFA Champions League, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
A picture taken in Paris on May 27, 2022, shows the official ball for the UEFA Champions League, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Real Madrid and Liverpool. © Franck Fife, AFP

Some 7,000 police officers will be on duty to marshal fans during Saturday's Champions League final set for the Stade to France, north of Paris, where as many as 40,000 ticketless Liverpool supporters are expected, authorities said on Thursday.

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The match between Liverpool and Real Madrid was originally scheduled to be played in Saint Petersburg but the French capital stepped in when UEFA stripped the Russian city of the match following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The Stade de France was made over with a new pitch for the occasion, FRANCE 24's Carys Garland reports. Twenty-four refrigerated trucks brought the hybrid turf in from Spain for Saturday's match. The pitch was then laid over the course of 48 hours.

Only around 20,000 fans each from Liverpool and Real are officially able to watch the eagerly awaited match inside the Stade de France.

"I'm going to have a look around and see if I can get a ticket, but obviously not pay too much," one English fan told a reporter outside the venue. And if he doesn't manage? "I'll just find a place in the city and watch the game."

Paris city authorities have prepared a vast fan zone for up to 45,000 Liverpool supporters along the Cours de Vincennes, a major avenue in the east of Paris, 10 kilometres (six miles) from the stadium.

"It's to make sure things go as well as they can," explained Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire.

A second fan park in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis where the Stade de France is located is being reserved for Real Madrid supporters with tickets for the game to enjoy before the match starts.

After the Real supporters have moved on to the stadium, that fan zone will then be opened to local fans.

No alcohol will be allowed in the area around the Stade de France but fans will be allowed to drink during the game inside the venue itself.

The Champs-Elysées avenue, one of the French capital's most-visited tourist areas, will be closed to both English and Spanish fans on Saturday afternoon and no drinking will be allowed this weekend at either of the city's two major airports.

As for the action on the pitch, sporting revenge is in the offing – no matter the victor on Saturday night. Liverpool will be seeking to cap a remarkable season by avenging their 2018 Champions League final defeat, a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in Kyiv.

But the Spanish giants have their sights set on a 14th European Cup triumph. Real Madrid has won each of their last seven appearances in the decider of the continent's paramount club competition. The last time they lost one? The 1981 European Cup final... against Liverpool, in Paris.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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