Grey clouds and persistent drizzle may not provide the ideal backdrop for a European final, but fans from Sevilla FC and RCD Espanyol were nevertheless in buoyant mood ahead of tonight's UEFA Cup showpiece in Glasgow.
Sombreros, flamenco dancing and castanets are not typically associated with Scotland though with the final being an all-Spanish affair, supporters ensured locals get a taste of their homeland. Much of the focus was on the stunning George Square, where both sets of fans mingled as they savoured the atmosphere; wandering around and occasionally bursting into chants as performers dance, sang and played. It was a setting fit for the romantic poet Robert Burns, whose statue adorns the square.
A patriot, Burns would also have approved of the large number of kilts on show, though he might not have recognised the tanned legs protruding from them. Nor would he recognise the tartan, a blue design adopted by many of the Espanyol fans for the day as they looked to garner neutral support. "There seem to be more people from Sevilla and so we need to have Scottish supporters," said one of their number, Luis García, his seriousness on the matter slightly negated by the ginger wig and tartan hat he was sporting.
"It's great to be here," the student continued. "As soon as we won the semi-final against Werder Bremen I booked my ticket as I needed to be here to experience this. I'm too young to remember when we were last in the final." That was 19 years ago when the Catalan outfit relinquished a 3-0 first-leg advantage to Bayer 04 Leverkusen which means Espanyol are still seeking a maiden European trophy. Sevilla, of course, broke that duck last season by beating Middlesbrough FC 4-0 and their army of red-and-white clad followers are hopeful of more success.
"I love it here," said Sevilla fan María Castillo from beneath her scarlet raincoat. "We have walked all around the city and the rain doesn't matter at all – we are just happy to be here. Last year was great although it will be hard to win 4-0 again. Maybe this time it will only be 3-0." It is an optimism shared by many on both sides of the divide and the spirit of the event is also infecting the Glaswegian public. One newspaper seller refused to be converted by the sombreros, scarves and wigs, however. "Both sets of fans are great so I won't be taking sides," he shouted as rain hammered down on his umbrella. "Even with the rain, it's a grand day."
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