After a low-key start to the Welsh capital’s festival of football, with the majority of fans only arriving on Saturday, a good-natured carnival atmosphere built throughout the day.
Real Madrid, for whom Cardiff native Gareth Bale is likely to be amongst the substitutes, are bidding for a record-extending 12th European title by becoming the first team to win the present format of the Champions League two seasons running.
Italian giants Juventus, twice European champions, have not won it since 1996 and have lost a record six finals.
Saturday’s final will be the first in the competition’s history to be played under cover with UEFA deciding last month that the retractable roof over the 74 000-seater Millennium Stadium would be closed.
Outside in the city centre, under cloudy skies, fans descended on
A giant inflatable Champions League trophy adorned the ramparts alongside a Welsh dragon.
Hundreds of Real fans, nearly all of them wearing replica shirts, staged impromptu games of football in the busy shopping streets and went through their repertoire of club anthems.
Many sought out
They were in confident mood.
Juventus fans will need no reminding that they lost to Real Madrid in the 1998 final held in
“Above all, this time around, we should overcome our psychological problem. Because we have lost too many finals. And this time it should go well, I hope so with all my heart,” Juve fan Fabio Bramvilla, wearing the classic black-and-white-striped Juventus jersey, said.
Another Juventus supporter carried a banner with the slogan “Santo Gigi” above a photo of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon who, at 39, could become the oldest player to win the European Cup.
Thousands of police officers have been deployed in the city centre which has been shut down to traffic.
“It is going really well so far. The weather is nice, the crowds are very highly spirited and everyone is enjoying having a photograph with
“It’s a festival atmosphere really.”
Real have banged in 32 goals – Ronaldo scoring 10 – to reach the final and are slight favourites with bookies with
Unsurprisingly Ronaldo, the highest scorer in European Cup history, is the favourite to score the opening goal.