Supporters of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have been sampling the delights of London ahead of Saturday night’s all-German European Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium.
By nine o’clock in the morning, streets in central London were already filling with fans. Dortmund supporters were easy to spot, all kitted out in their team’s yellow colours, mixing happily with rival supporters of Bayern wearing their team’s burgundy red and white.
Four-times European champions Bayern are favourites with the bookmakers, having cruised to the Bundesliga title this year and demolished Barcelona 7-0 over two games in the semi-final. But fans of the Bavarian team have had to suffer two defeats in the last three Champions League finals. Dortmund on the other hand won the only Champions League final they have played, back in 1997.
While many fans arrived in the days leading up the match to take advantage of the sight-seeing possibilities of the British capital, some arrived on Saturday morning after a 12-hour coach journey from Germany.
Many had travelled without match tickets, but still intended to enjoy the party. “We’ve come here by bus,” said one young Dortmund fan in a pub. “We celebrated quite a bit already during the journey and of course, we want to watch the match this evening, maybe in a bar, some place where we can have some real fun.”
His friend was more optimistic about getting into Wembley Stadium. “We want to try to get tickets, maybe at the ground. But if we don’t get any, no big deal. We are from Dortmund, we always go to matches. With or without tickets,” he said.
Another year, another final: for Bayern fans, it is their third in four years, and many were taking things in their stride as they soaked up the atmosphere.
“We are going to do some sightseeing in London, check out the city and in the afternoon we are going to go to the park and there we hook up with the other fans and then we go all together to the stadium,” said one fan, holding a toy Champions League trophy as he strolled with a friend by the River Thames.
Security was low-key, the atmosphere convivial, plenty of beer was drunk during the day and would continue to be consumed throughout the evening. Most German fans in central London were unlikely to see the match in the flesh.
Euronews correspondent Mark Davis said from Trafalgar Square:
“Around 150,000 German football fans have made the trip to London for the Champions League final, but fewer than 50,000, or less than a third of them, have tickets to the match. Also there is no public screening of the game, no big screen where the fans can gather. So that leaves around 100,000 Bayern and Dortmund supporters who will be cramming into London’s pubs to see who will be crowned European champions 2013.”