On Sunday, two giant footballing institutions go head-to-head for club football’s biggest prize. With 17 European Cups between them, two of the biggest fanbases in the world and two teams who love to play exciting, attacking football, what is there not to be excited about? I’ve looked at the real talking points for the fans ahead of the game.
The (really, really) Long Road to Kiev
Whether or not you agree with UEFAs policy to spread the Champions League love to places like Istanbul, Athens and Kiev, what can’t be denied is that it’s hard work for supporters to get to. After meagre allocations for both sets of fans were announced, getting tickets for the match was only the beginning of the troubles. Once negotiating a lottery to get a ticket, fans then had to find a way to Ukraine’s capital. Real Madrid supporters were aided by their club offering additional chartered flights. Liverpool’s own club partners Thomas Cook, on the other hand, added extra flights but only at an extortionate price. As a result, supporters have had to get inventive in order to watch the team.
Can’t believe I’m going to Kiev on a fuckin coach man 😂😂. All fun an games til you’ve been driving for 24 hours straight an only just about reached Poland. Come on the redmen. ✋🏻☝🏻🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/Lsgu3rOkaS
— Jack Ashworth (@JackAshworth_26) May 20, 2018
For Real Madrid fans priced out of flying to Kiev, their best bet seems to be a flight to Barcelona and a nights sleep in the airport before another flight to Warsaw, and then a leasurely 14 hour train journey to Kiev. An unapetising journey that has seen 2000 ticket holders return their seats to the club. This fan is off to Zaragoza, Barcelona, then on to Lviv where he’s set to drive to Kiev. Spirits will be high for fans of both sides on the way there, but they are likely to be significantly lower on the way back; particularly for those on the losing side.
#DuroCaminoaKiev De Zaragoza a Barcelona, de ahí a Lviv, coche y Kiev. Vuelta de Kiev a Lviv y de allí avión a Bergamo y después a Zaragoza. Hala Madrid!!
— Alejandro López (@Alopezgarma) May 21, 2018
Clearly UEFA needs to do something about the situation and prevent it happening in future. While it may be unfair to just have the final at Wembley, Madrid or Paris every year, if they are going to pick new venues then they need to ensure that the correct infrastructure is in place; plenty of affordable accomodation, modes of transport and a stadium not overwhelmed with “restricted view” seats. Restricted view seats that still cost over £300 face value.
In amongst all the Against Modern Football-ness of it all, it is true that these issues will add to the great adventure. Liverpool and Real Madrid are two of the best travelled sides in Europe and they’ll certainly come back from Kiev with another collection of stories to tell. Plus, the struggle for tickets and accomodation has brought out the best of what we love about football. Kiev residents offering football supporters their sofa’s for the night in a fightback against rip off hotel prices, and tickets being handed out in trainer-boxes as a birthday surprise.
Just give me dad his 60th birthday present there, a champion's league final ticket… only started crying the silly arl sod ❤🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/IfHjZOdybw
— Danny (@DannyMaybury) May 12, 2018
The Best of the Fans
If you’re on the march to a European Cup final, you may as well enjoy it. All of our Twitter feeds have been inundated with people stood around in red smoke singing Allez Allez Allez, and those images of Liverpool fans welcoming their team bus in before the ties against Man City and Roma. But perhaps my personal favourite clip of the Liverpool supporters so far was from the trip to Rome. Tensions were fraught after the vile behaviour of a number of Roma fans on Merseyside the week before, and all the talk was of Liverpool fans being wise not to travel. But not everyone was in the mood to have their holidays spoiled…
Police: "Liverpool fans should keep a low profile in Rome"
Liverpool fans: pic.twitter.com/SA3PVrBMhf
— Ste Carson (@sjrcarson) May 2, 2018
For Real Madrid, it’s hard to look past the scenes at the end of the semi-final tie against Bayern Munich. Having survived a late onslaught from the Bavarian nearly men of the past few years, Madridistas had every reason to enjoy a sing song. And nobody got more involved than the captain, Sergio Ramos.
— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) May 2, 2018
Showing off an impressive knowledge of the Ultra’s songbook, Ramos took the mic and stole the show. Like him or loathe him, it’s no wonder he’s the people’s favourite. He has since released his own rap single, and I am honestly not joking. I don’t recommend googling it.
Oh God, Don’t jinx it For Fu-
Both clubs have faced the wrath of their more superstitious supporters in the build up to the final. After seeing off Munich, the Madrid players sported t-shirts with the number 13 plastered all over them in massive writing. While the message on the shirts roughly translated to “Now for the 13th”, more of a call to arms than a declaration of it happening, it had eyes rolling among some.
Liverpool fans were quick to jump on this, with calls for Klopp to print out the pictures and stick them on the dressing room wall in Kiev. “There’s your team talk sorted boys…they want to win the final too”
But soon after it was Liverpool’s turn to tempt fate. First, the club edited their Twitter header to show a sixth European Cup lurking in the shadows with “Kiev ’18” written on it, and then soon after, the plans for the potential open-top bus were announced. That is some world class jinxing. Hypothetically, it’ll happen on the Sunday, by the way. Loads of time for the fans to get back from Kiev on the 36 hour bus journey.
Keep an eye out for any players touching the trophy on their way out of the dressing rooms on Saturday evening…
A Final to Savour
While Real Madrid and Liverpool are two of the best loved clubs in the world, with that level of fame comes a massive amount of detractors, too.
This final, however, has the potential to be one of the greatest in living memory. While tactical build up has been extensive, there is almost nothing to preview in that regard; we all know what to expect from these two teams. Yet somehow, that has made the final result even more impossible to predict; it could end 4 nil to either team. This is a final to enjoy and to savour.
Whether you’re watching at home, in the pub or you’re already sat on a sweaty coach on it’s way to Kiev; enjoy the game; it has all the makings of a classic. Just like this video has.
At the airport looking for our driver and this just had to be done 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/od0ISid6d6
— The F2 (@TheF2) May 12, 2018