Champions League final: Liverpool and Spurs fans descend on Madrid

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Thousands of flights took off from the UK on Friday, carrying fans of both sides

Thousands of Liverpool and Tottenham fans have descended on Madrid for the Champions League final.

The two Premier League sides will meet at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Saturday.

Many fans spent Friday making long, last-minute journeys from the UK, after both teams made remarkable comebacks in the semi-finals.

Whether the cost and effort was worth it will be decided on Saturday night, fans said.

The government has issued travel advice those heading to the Spanish capital.

Spanish police have told English football fans to “behave like tourists” as an extra 1,300 officers were deployed to cope with the influx of supporters.

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Peter Byrne/PA

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Liverpool fans set off a smoke flare in Plaza de Felipe II

An acknowledgement from both sets of fans is that the Liverpool contingent is so far outnumbering that of their north London rivals.

Their arrival has been characterised by a sea of replica shirts, while both sets of fans have congregated on plazas to drink beer and bellow out football chants.

Police said supporters have so far been well-behaved.

Officer Jose Ramon Carrasco told the Press Association: “We understand they’re going to be noisy, happy or singing or whatever – that’s understandable.

“What’s not understandable is maybe throwing bottles in the street, getting into fights. We don’t accept that.

“It’s a matter of having fun but not being in a bad mood.”

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Media captionFans have been finding different ways to get to Madrid

About 9,000 flights are predicted to take off from the UK on Friday, which would exceed the previous record of 8,854 set on 25 May 2018.

Air traffic controller Nats has predicted an extra 800 flights will take off over the weekend.

But some have expressed frustration at a delay in getting their travel details through for chartered flights.

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Joe Giddens/PA

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Tottenham Hotspur fans waved a banner in Puerta del Sol

Spurs supporter Steve Cook wrote on Twitter he was still awaiting his itinerary from Thomas Cook 48 hours before kick-off.

He said: “We made this booking with the club’s official travel company and have been dealt with appallingly.”

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Some Tottenham fans are soaking up the atmosphere in Madrid

Thomas Cook said it had been awaiting the flight times from Madrid airport, which is expecting an extra 800 flights this weekend, but all passengers have now received their itineraries.

A company spokesman said: “As soon as we received finalised flight times from the airports, we sent itineraries out to fans.”

He added the firm’s six flights would arrive in Madrid at least six hours before the 20:00 BST kick-off allowing fans to “soak up the atmosphere”.

To avoid flight issues, Anthony Gibson and three fellow Spurs-supporting friends from Northampton decided to drive the 1,100 miles (1,800km) to Madrid.

They set off on Thursday evening and hope to be at their hotel near the Spanish capital by Friday night.

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Anthony Gibson

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Anthony Gibson and his friends have driven from Northampton to Spain

“Living in Northampton every Spurs game for us is an away game, this is the ultimate one,” Mr Gibson said.

“I’m 42 and we have all had season tickets for 15 years. We’ve not had anything this big in our time. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”

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Media captionBroadcaster Lynsey Hooper’s guide to the Champions League final

Spanish police are clamping down on those selling fake tickets or those sold above face value – despite many fans arriving in Madrid willing to shell out thousands of pounds for the opportunity to get inside the ground.

Mr Gibson, said he and his friends were offered £15,000 for their four £60 tickets.

“Some people have asked if we are mad, especially my wife, but if you do not make the journey it’s one of those things you will regret,” he said, adding he had seen plenty of other Spurs fans on the roads of Europe bound for Madrid, including many who did not have match tickets.

Sisters Toni Moran and Collette Slater, “born and bred” Liverpool fans, flew to Madrid with family, including a nephew who is travelling from Sydney.

They booked their tickets from Liverpool last week and said they had not had any issues.

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Sisters Toni Moran and Collette Slater are meeting family in Madrid for the final

“There’s a good atmosphere down here at the airport, it’s lovely to see all the flags, everyone is really looking forward to the match,” Ms Slater said.

Manchester Airport also had a message for fans flying from there, as shared on Twitter by Tracey Moore.

Other passengers have already noticed a lot of football fans as well, if Claire Petros’ video is anything to go by.

Dr Petros, who is a part of her friend Pip Rowe’s hen party, said her flight from Stansted to Madrid saw “lots of drinking” and “chants” but all was “positive and fun”.

“We hadn’t expected the football theme to the hen. There were a couple of moments of ‘laddiness’ but we learnt some new chants and some football facts that we hadn’t known before.”

Another Liverpool fan, Youtuber Simon Wilson, is driving to Madrid in a car he bought for £40.

Spurs fan Nick Rabbits, an English journalist who works in Ireland, said seeing his team in a European final was too good an opportunity to miss.

“In the wake of our win in the semi-final I went immediately online,” Mr Rabbits said.

“All the cheap routes had been taken by Liverpool fans because they had a 24-hour head start, so I went for this one.”

He left his home in Limerick at about 20:00 BST on a coach bound for Dublin, from where he flew to Bacau in Romania.

Mr Rabbits, who has previously travelled “over land and sea” to Baku in Azerbaijan to watch Spurs, arrived in Romania at about 07:00 local time, with his final flight to Madrid due to depart at 21:00.

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Nick Rabbits

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Nick Rabbits is travelling to Spain from Ireland via Romania

Mr Rabbits should arrive in the Spanish capital shortly after midnight, having flown more than 4,000 miles (6,400km).

The flights have cost him £320 and he has also paid 207 Euros for a berth in an 11-bed hostel dormitory for two nights.

“Ask me on Sunday if it has been worth it,” he said.

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Liverpool fan Jarrett has made the trip from South Africa

Liverpool fan Jarrett has travelled from South Africa for the match.

He said when his side beat Bayern Munich he decided to take “a gamble” and book a trip to Spain.


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Publish date : 2019-05-31 21:56:15

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