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Madrid opens arms to football festival

UEFA.com looks at the week's events in Madrid ahead of Saturday's UEFA Champions League final, including the conclusion of the inaugural UEFA Women's Champions League.

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu will host Saturday's final
The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu will host Saturday's final ©Getty Images

With Club Atlético de Madrid's celebrations following their UEFA Europa League triumph still fresh in the memory, the Spanish capital is ready for another football fiesta as the countdown commences towards Saturday's UEFA Champions League final between FC Bayern München and FC Internazionale Milano at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Both sides travel to Madrid on a high after completing their domestic doubles at the weekend and with local issues now decided, attention turns to Europe with both looking to complete memorable campaigns by winning Europe's biggest club prize of all.

Inter's meeting with Bayern, though, is not the only show in town this week. For the first time the UEFA Champions League final will be played on a Saturday and it becomes the climax to UEFA's events week in which Olympique Lyonnais also take on 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam on Thursday in the inaugural UEFA Women's Champions League final at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in Getafe.

The UEFA Champions League final was moved to Saturday to make it more of a family occasion and there will be plenty to keep football fans of all ages involved during the course of the week. The Champions Festival opened on Saturday at the Parque del Retiro and all-comers will be able to show off their skills on mini-pitches or take part in any number of activities, including having their photograph taken with the trophy itself.

The highlight of the week at the Champions Festival is the Ultimate Champions Match on Saturday 22 May at 14.00CET when Emilio Butragueño's team of Spanish legends take on a star-studded international lineup of past greats including Michael Laudrup, Steve McManaman, Christian Karembeu and Rui Costa.

Not that the week is devoted only to the stars of the game. UEFA Grassroots Day on Wednesday will highlight the huge strides UEFA and Europe's national associations are taking to improve the game at grassroots level across the continent. On the same day youth football is also showcased with a match between Bayern and Inter's youth sides at the Estádio Aldredo di Stéfano, Real Madrid CF's training ground, at 19.00CET.

Women's football takes centre stage on Thursday when Lyon play Potsdam at 20.30CET in Getafe. The UEFA Women's Champions League has replaced the former UEFA Women's Cup, which ran from 2001/02 until last season, and will be the first final to be played as a one-off in eight years.

Since the start of the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1955/56 the final has traditionally been played midweek, but in a season of change for the competition it will now take place on the Saturday. All eyes will be on the Santiago Bernabéu as Inter and Bayern bid to replace FC Barcelona as European champions.