After an absence of three years, fans are back in force and focus ready to witness one of those highly anticipated finals of the Uefa Champions League.
A classic encounter between two of the most successful clubs in Europe’s elite competition, Real Madrid versus Liverpool.
UEFA moved this year’s final from St Petersburg to Paris in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there. The venue selected was Saint-Denis’s Stade de France.
Located just north of Paris, it has a capacity of over 80,000, making it one of the biggest stadiums in Europe. It is the home of the national football and rugby union French teams.
It will be the third time that the stadium is hosting the UEFA Champions League final and it is not a good omen for Liverpool to point that in the previous two occasions it was a Spanish side which lifted the trophy – Real Madrid in 2000 and Barcelona in 2006.
Despite the stadium’s large capacity, reduced to 75,000 for this final, the usual clamour for tickets has been going on.
A total of 52,000 tickets were made available for fans and the general public to purchase.
Real Madrid and Liverpool received 20,000 each, while another 12,000 were offered for sale to fans via uefa.com.
The remaining 23,000 have been distributed to sponsors, broadcasters and national associations, while a limited number of hospitality tickets costing up to €9,000 were also sold out.
As for the capital itself, the French are taking no chances with around 40,000 Liverpool fans, who are expected to flood the city half of whom will be ticket-less. Around 7,000 police will be on duty as part of a massive security operation.
Two vast fan zones have been prepared in Paris to host the two sets of supporters.
The first is along the Cours de Vincennes, a major avenue in the south east of Paris, near Place de la Nation.
This fan zone will be set up on Saturday, the day of the final and will be open from 2pm right until late in the night, after the end of the match itself.
Up to 44,000 people can gather in this area and various artists will perform throughout the afternoon including Jamie Webster, the Lightning Sees, Cast frontman John Power and the usual popular BOSS regulars all connected to Liverpool FC.
The second fan zone, which will be much smaller, will be in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where the Stade de France is located and will be reserved for Real Madrid fans with tickets.
The zone, in the Parc de la Legion d’Honneur, is expected to welcome around 6,000 Spanish fans, and is intended for them to gather there early in the day, before they start heading to Stade de France.
The Saint-Denis fan zone will then open for local fans after the Real fans have left for the stadium.
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 stadium.
In the build-up to the match, starting on Thursday, UEFA set up two further locations, where all football fans are invited to attend.
Anyone visiting Paris is able to enjoy the unique atmosphere, meet other fans and get into the festive spirit of the ‘Trophy Experience’ of the Champions League.
One location is at the Place de l’Hotel de Ville, next to the 19th century town hall building, flanked by the famous shopping street Rue Rivoli and River Seine. The other one is at Place Victor Hugo, located in front of the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
At certain times fans can even see the UCL Trophy on display and several other football-related activities. There are displays of captains’ jerseys, various selfie spots, a fan shop, a giant trophy installation, inflatable football activities, selfie spots and much more.
According to Météo France it will be sunny all afternoon and evening on Saturday with temperatures hitting 19C to 20C.
All set for the big final!