A carnival atmosphere prevailed at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium for tonight's UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid CF and Bayer 04 Leverkusen with both sets of fans mixing both before and during the match in a city hosting its third European final.
'This is my life'
The hours before kick-off were characterised by cloudy, overcast weather, although everyone in and around the stadium was in a summer mood that befitted the occasion, including one German football fan who did not support Leverkusen, but was simply attending "for the football," because "this is my life".
In fact, both sets of supporters were mingling in Glasgow city centre before the game and made their way to Scotland's national stadium together, entering the 52,000 seats inside en masse. Of those 52,000 bottoms on seats, 18,000 were from the Spanish capital, with 8,000 from the smaller industrial town of Leverkusen, although at times it was hard to tell the difference due to the great noise that both sets of supporters generated.
Even the local Scottish fans were happy to be at European football's premier club event, with one claiming that tonight's showpiece finale was "a real feast for Scotland". This feast would not have been complete without a pre-match song by the 'Proclaimers' - both sets of supporters appeared to know the words to it, judging by their enthusiastic singalong.
Before kick-off, everyone in the stadium paid their respects to FC Dynamo Kyiv coach Valeriy Lobanovskiy, who passed away yesterday, by observing a minute's silence. Once the game began the two early goals, one for each team, ensured that the game lived up to the atmosphere in the ground. As each team found the back of the net, their supporters could be seen immediately turning to locate their mobile phones to inform those that could not make the trip of the goal just scored.
The reaction to Zinedine Zidane's decisive and sumptuous strike just on the stroke of half-time was of a higher decibel level, aided by the stadium announcer brought over from Spain who whipped the Madridistas up into a frenzy. As the match wore on though, the weather turned into a storm and the wind and driving rain appeared to reflect Leverkusen's ultimately bleak fortunes, while for Madrid, rain or no rain, the party was just beginning.
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