CL final build-up @ Cardiff: in words & pictures

June 3, 2017


Real Madrid and Juventus meet in Cardiff on Saturday evening in one of the most eagerly-anticipated Champions League finals in recent times.

The Spanish giants, fresh from winning the La Liga title, are hoping to make history by becoming the first team to retain their Champions League crown, lifting the trophy for the 12th time overall.

Italian champions Juventus, meanwhile, are chasing an historic Treble having already secured the Serie A and Coppa Italia titles and are aiming to win Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 1996.

We will bring you all of the build-up from the Welsh capital as we count down to the 7.45pm kick-off, as well as all the day’s transfer news and gossip.

The charter plane carrying relatives of Real Madrid players was delayed for more than an hour in Spain because of the high number of flights arriving at Cardiff’s airport for the Champions League final against Juventus.

Players’ relatives used social media to talk about the delay.

Spanish daily Marca said the flight was still expected to make it to Cardiff in good time for the final.

Cardiff Airport was at capacity because of the high influx of fans arriving from Spain and Italy.

Trains arriving at Cardiff were packed with Italian and Spanish fans who spent the night in nearby cities because of the limited hotel capacity in the Welsh capital.

Many fans were unable to find a place to stay in Cardiff and had to seek alternatives in neighboring cities, such as Bristol.

“It was impossible to find a place to stay in Cardiff, everything was booked well in advance,” said Real Madrid fan Mario Herrero, who made the trip of about one hour from Bristol into Cardiff. “We had to look for hotels in other cities, it was the only solution.”

Most trains were filled to capacity but there were no reports of problems for fans arriving at Cardiff’s main station.

With a population of just 350,000, Cardiff is one of the smallest cities to host a Champions League final.

PICTURES: The display at the Castle in Cardiff is proving very popular


Only Raul Gonzalez (Madrid 2000 and 2002), Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona 2006 and 2009), Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2009 and 2011), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United 2008, Real Madrid 2014) and Ramos (Real Madrid 2014, 2016) have scored in two UEFA Champions League finals – Ronaldo and Ramos can each become the first player to score in three in Cardiff.

Bale delighted to be back home… but he’s likely to start on the bench
Here’s what to expect pre-match

The Black Eyed Peas are promising an energetic show when they perform at the Champions League final.

The Grammy Award-winning eclectic hip-hop group will be entertaining the Cardiff stadium crowd just before Juventus and Real Madrid meet in the biggest club game in world soccer.
Black Eyed Peas member promised “lots of energy.” told The Associated Press that “there’s a lot of eyeballs, a lot of football fans and hopefully we can bring a lot of music fans to watch us too.

So, unlike the Super Bowl and the World Cup, this is the second time we’ve had music at a UEFA opening ceremony, so we’re happy to be number two.”

Alicia Keys performed before last season’s final in Milan.

Saturday’s Champions League final is the first being played under a closed roof due to security fears that intensified in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack last month that killed 22 people. said: “I try not to let fear govern where I go. I love this country and I will always.”

PICTURES: Juventus fans create a carnival atmosphere in Cardiff

Home town hero Bale: It’ll be special to step out at Cardiff

Gareth Bale admits it will be a ‘special occasion’ when he steps out for Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League in his home city of Cardiff on Saturday night.

The Welsh star, a two-time winner of the competition already, is fighting to prove his fitness ahead of the showpiece clash with Juventus.

And victory at the Principality Stadium this weekend will be all the sweeter for the 27-year-old.

Real Madrid fans carry a Gareth Bale figure as they enjoy the city centre atmosphere

No player has hit a hat-trick in a UEFA Champions League final. Daniele Massaro (Milan 1994), Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund 1997), Hernán Crespo (Milan 2005), Filippo Inzaghi (Milan 2007) and Diego Milito (Internazionale 2010) all struck twice.

Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli — not forgetting goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon — have been inspired in the Champions League this season.

They have an average age of nearly 34 but we should not underestimate these great players. At that age, defenders can read the game as well as they ever have. This could well be the last time this defence play together in a match of this magnitude and Buffon will be desperate to claim the one trophy that has eluded him.

But up against Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Isco — with Gareth Bale lying in wait on the bench — they will need to have the game of their lives.


Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus during training
PICTURES: Real Madrid fans enjoy themselves in Cardiff


In the previous 24 UEFA Champions League finals, there have been 17 outright wins and seven games decided by penalty shoot-outs.

A total of 65 goals have been scored, with the most common results being 2-1 and 1-1, which have each happened on five occasions; three finals have finished 1-0.

Ian Ladyman: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane claims Cristiano Ronaldo is a better player than he ever was.

Zidane will hope Ronaldo can lead Real to back to back Champions League triumphs against Juventus in Cardiff on Saturday night.

Ronaldo has scored 49 goals for club and country this season and registered hat-tricks in both the Champions League quarter and semi finals.


Arsene Wenger says Arsenal have ‘not yet’ made a bid for wantaway Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez.

Mahrez put Premier League clubs on alert this week when he announced in a statement that he wants to leave the King Power Stadium.

Arsenal are among those tracking the 26-year-old and Wenger has indicated that they will test Leicester with an offer.

PICTURES: Fans enjoying themselves in Cardiff

Real Madrid will look to make Champions League history when they take on Juventus in their third Champions League final in four years on Saturday night.

Since the European Cup morphed into the Champions League in 1992, no team has ever retained the trophy — but Real are bidding to break that curse.

The Spaniards, however, come up against a Juventus team, fresh from their record-breaking sixth straight Serie A title, who are eyeing a third European Cup.

Here, Sportsmail’s reporters share their views on the possible outcome of the Cardiff final and predict the final score.


Madrid have won all five of their UEFA Champions League finals, claiming a record number of triumphs, while Juventus have lost the fixture more times than any other club – four. Indeed, their only victory was on penalties – against Ajax in 1996.

PICTURES: The atmosphere grows in Cardiff!

Only Juventus stand between Real Madrid becoming the first side in the history of the Champions League to successfully defend the trophy.

The two sides meet in the final at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, with Zinedine Zidane’s men targeting their 12th triumph in European football’s most prestigious competition.

But Serie A champions Juventus will provide a stern challenge. Their run to the final has outlined their credentials as one of Europe’s finest sides, knocking out Barcelona before stifling free-scoring Monaco to reach the showpiece match in Wales.

Areas where the match can be won and lost:


Madrid aim to become the first team to make a successful defence of the UEFA Champions League title. Milan (1989, 1990) were the last club to pick up consecutive European Champion Clubs’ Cups.

Milan (1994, 1995), Ajax (1995, 1996), Juve (1996, 1997) and Man. United (2008, 2009) have all returned to the final as holders only to lose.

Juventus and Real Madrid go head-to-head in Saturday’s Champions League final as they bid to add another piece of silverware to their well-stocked trophy cabinets.

The game promises to be an interesting tactical battle between Massimiliano Allegri and Zinedine Zidane, but how do the players match-up man for man?

The following are the likely starting XIs and rates each star out of 10 to decide who has the advantage in Cardiff:

Real Madrid’s quest to become the first team to defend the Champions League title concludes on Saturday night in Cardiff against Juventus.

However, Zinedine Zidane’s side will come up against a Juventus outfit that remain unbeaten ahead of the highly anticipated final.

The Principality Stadium will host the mouth-watering clash but what do you need to know about the spectacular ground?

Exclusive by Sami Mokbel: Chelsea are weighing up a shock swoop for Dani Alves after being offered the Juventus defender.

The 34-year-old is preparing for the Champions League final in Cardiff, where victory would secure a historic treble in his first season at the Serie A giants.

But despite being just one win away from landing his fourth Champions League winner’s medal, Alves has an uncertain future in Turin.


Juventus’ Brazilian defender Dani Alves trains ahead of the final


Real Madrid’s loss at Atletico in the semi-final second leg leaves Juventus as the only unbeaten side remaining in the competition. The Bianconeri are bidding to become the seventh team to win the UEFA Champions League undefeated, and the first since Manchester United in 2008.

PICTURE: Love this dragon guarding the trophy on the top of Cardiff Castle!

Rio Ferdinand met up with his old Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday morning as the Real Madrid forward looks to get his hands on a fourth Champions League winners’ medal.

Ronaldo won the Champions League with the Red Devils in 2008, before going on to claim two more with Los Blancos, in 2014 and last season.

And ahead of Real’s clash with Juventus at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night, the Portuguese maestro linked up with Ferdinand in Cardiff.

PICTURES: Fans soaking up the atmosphere in Cardiff

Real Madrid fans take a selfie outside the stadium


Real Madrid fans pose for a photo outside the stadium


Fans pose for a photo outside the Principality Stadium


ITALIAN PRESS: ‘Bring it home!’ Gazzetta get behind Juve

What does he really do? It might seem an odd question to pose about a manager who stands on the brink of history but it’s one some people will still ask.

Zinedine Zidane was a genius as a player, one of the greatest we have ever seen, but so far his career in the dugout has passed without significant acclaim. That is remarkable when you consider what he has done in such a short period of time.

This evening in Cardiff, he has the chance to become the first manager in the Champions League era to win the tournament back-to-back and join a select group that includes, among others, Bob Paisley, Arrigo Sacchi and Brian Clough as men who have retained club football’s greatest prize.

Zidane shows off his ball control skills as Real train on the eve of the final



Dani Alves made his 99th UEFA Champions League appearance against Monaco. In Cardiff, he could become the 31st player to bring up his century in the competition.11:01

SPANISH PRESS: ‘Hour of the champion’ – Marca gets behind Real

The Champions League final is in Cardiff… and could we soon see a World Cup on these shores as well?

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has given his backing to the 2030 World Cup being held in England – or a combined British bid.

The Slovenian said earlier in the week that it will be “Europe’s turn” to host the tournament, following 2022 in Qatar and a 2026 event tipped to take place in North America.

Ceferin has now gone further by backing a return to Britain for the first time since England hosted and won the 1966 World Cup.

He told the BBC: “For me, they are absolutely capable of organising it from an organisational point of view, from an infrastructure point of view.

“But of course it’s a decision not just for the FA, probably the government and all the others too.

“But you know everything about English or British football, so they deserve to have a World Cup in the near future.

“I don’t know how much encouragement they need, but they are capable of organising the World Cup, I’m sure. That’s the decision of the Football Association and if they decide to go, we will strongly support them.

“They will have all our political support. I just hope we will not have two European bidders, because that would not be good.

“I think the ideal situation would be to have one European bidder, and then all of Europe stands together and we can achieve it.”

Sami Mokbel: Alexis Sanchez is ready to turn his back on Arsenal and force a move through to Chelsea or Manchester City.

Representatives working on behalf of the Chilean are understood to have met officials from Arsenal’s Premier League rivals with a view to a sensational summer move.

But Arsene Wenger insisted last night that Sanchez and Mesut Ozil — who both have just one year to run on their contracts — will be staying at the club.


Real Madrid need one more goal to become the first team to score 500 in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.

(Plenty more of these stats to come throughout the day…)

On Saturday night some of the biggest names of the planet will do battle in Cardiff for European football’s biggest prize.

But fans in the Welsh capital have already been given a taste of the footballing royalty in store for them 24 hours later.

While Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gianluigi Buffon were focusing on the Champions League final on Friday afternoon, legends of years gone by were taking part in another showpiece occasion, the Ultimate Champion game.

The two sides, managed by AC Milan and Chelsea legend Ruud Gullit and former Real Madrid star Emilio Butragueno, featured 24 Champions League winners in an all-star line-up.

PICTURES: Security is tight in Cardiff

With 70,000 fans set to descend on the Principality Stadium this evening, plus many thousands more from Madrid and Turin in the city, police and security are taking no chances.

Stringent searches and checks will be in operation, with fans discouraged from taking bags into the stadium.

Hundreds of police officers will be on duty to ensure the occasion passes off safely.

Security barriers are put into place in front of the Principality Stadium


Children cycle through security barriers at the Champions League fan festival


A police facial recognition van parked outside the stadium

Ian Ladyman in Cardiff: Cardiff was not exactly where it all began for Cristiano Ronaldo but it was in terms of major finals, big goals and trophies.

The FA Cup here in the principality in 2004 was club honour No 1. On Saturday night, under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium, Ronaldo hopes the Champions League will become No 20.

The world has changed much in the 13 years since Manchester United beat Millwall, Ronaldo scoring the first goal of three with a header. On Friday, for example, the police were lifting manhole covers in the centre of Cardiff to check for explosives.

The waiting is almost over!

It’s pretty unusual to see the Champions League final played in the month of June, but in many ways that has only boosted the sense of anticipation ahead of tonight’s mouth-watering clash.

Tonight’s clash in Cardiff is a meeting of two long-standing members of European football’s elite and comes with many intriguing sub-plots.

Real Madrid are aiming to become the first club to retain their Champions League crown and going for a 12th European Cup success overall.

Juventus are going for an historic Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League, an achievement that would really underlined their supremacy in Italian football at the moment.

And to add more flavour to the final, it’s being played at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and the Welsh capital has been gearing up for the occasion in some style this week.

We’ll bring you all the build-up as we count down to the 7.45pm kick-off and plenty of stuff to read to get you in the mood for the big game.

A giant dragon guards the Champions League trophy at Cardiff castle


A huge Champions League winners trophy on display at a fan zone in Cardiff



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