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No public viewings for Champions League final

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No public viewings for Champions League final
The "Fanfest" by the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. Photo: DPA
14:45 CEST+02:00
Berlin is preparing to host the biggest occasion in the annual football calendar: the Champions League final. Spanish giants Barcelona take on Italian champions Juventus is what is sure to be a classic encounter, but there will be no official public viewings of the match.

150 million people will have their eyes on the German capital as it hosts the most important match in football after the World Cup final.

The Olympic stadium, the venue of the 2006 World Cup final, is the setting of this year's saga. Italy came out winners on that occasion after Zinedine Zidane was sent off for an infamous head butt.

Juve midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon are the only players taking the field on Saturday to have played that night, and will be desperate to lift a trophy for the second time in Berlin.

Berlin's Olympic stadium. Photo: DPA

20,000 fans from both Barcelona and Turin have tickets for the match, but many more are expected to descend on the city.

Fans without tickets that can cost up to €15,000 will not have the opportunity to watch the game on a big screen, because UEFA has decided not to organize any public viewings in the city.

Fans will have to crowd into sports bars instead. There is a huge party along the Fanmeile between the Brandenburg Gate and the Siegersäule in the Tiergarten, but it finishes 45 minutes before kick-off and won't be actually broadcasting the action.

Here is a list of smaller, unofficial public viewings at bars, cafes, and open air spaces around the city: Public Viewings in Berlin.

Public viewings have become really popular in Germany, and were a big part of how the nation watched their team become World Champions last summer in Brazil.

Tagesspiegel Berlin editor, André Görke compared it to having a New Year's party and sending everyone home at 10pm without any fireworks.

The Local spoke to some fans milling around the festival area at the Brandeburg Gate. A Juventus fan living in Berlin said he was't too disappointed about the lack of official public viewing. 

"I have some friends visiting so I think we will try to find a bar near the stadium," he said. He also admitted that Barcelona would probably win but said that "in one match anything can happen."

Some Barcelona fans visiting for the weekend had no idea where they were going to watch the game. "We will have to look for a bar somewhere but it's a shame because a public viewing would have been great," one said. 

Both Barcelona and Juventus jetted in on a scorching hot afternoon on Friday, before holding their final training sessions in prepration for the showdown on Saturday evening.

The bearded wonder: Andrea Pirlo of Juventus. Photo: DPA

Lionel Messi: the best player on the planet. Photo: DPA

Barcelona are favourites, especially because of the current form of superstar Lionel Messi, but Juventus are more likely to have the support from the neutrals, having not one the Champions League since 1996.

The final will also see the reunion of Barcelona  striker Luiz Suarez and Juve defender Girgio Chiellini. Last time the pair played against each other in last year's World Cup, Suarez was banned for four months for biting Chiellini on the shoulder.

All the different subplots, the ridiculous array of footballing talent, and beautiful setting should make this a final to remember, even without a big public viewing.

By Matty Edwards

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