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German fans flood London ahead of final

Dortmund and Bayern fans fill the streets of London as their teams do battle in the Champions League final at Wembley.

Last Modified: 25 May 2013 15:24
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Capital invaded: Borussia Dortmund fans gather together in Trafalgar Square ahead of European season climax [EPA]

London's Wembley will be a sea of black, red and gold for Saturday's Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich with 'Football's Coming Home' set to be sung by German voices.

Despite chilly temperatures and damp conditions in the build up, reported figures of up to 180,000 German fans are set to flood the English capital on match day.

Many yellow and black-clad Dortmund fans were spotted around Wembley, as the countdown to kick off began, along with red-shirted Bayern fans in the traditional Bavarian lederhosen shorts or dirndl dresses.

Bayern are in their third Champions League final in four years and after the heart-break of losing last season's finale at home on penalties to Chelsea, many of their fans feel now is their time.

"This time WE bring the trophy back home to the Isar, you have it in your hand and we believe in you!," Bayern supporters group Nr 12 wrote in an open letter which defender Dante posted on his Facebook page.

Borussia Dortmund's marketing department have been working overtime, starting with the team arriving in a specially decorated yellow and black plane at London's Stansted airport on Friday.

Numerous London statues, including Sherlock Holmes, were decorated with a Borussia scarf, while actors dressed as soldiers of the Queen's guards, but in yellow and black uniforms, were at various landmarks.

Bayern and Dortmund fans milled around their teams' hotels on Saturday morning, hoping to get a glimpse or an autograph from their heroes.

Dortmund are attracting plenty of neutral supporters: in a poll of 100,000 German fans by football magazine Kicker, some 58 percent said they are supporting Jurgen Klopp's underdogs Dortmund.

Bayern, who have signed Dortmund star midfielder Mario Goetze for next season, tend to polarise fans.

"It's either you love them or you hate them," said Kicker's Joerg Jakob.

Ticketless supporters

Both sets of supporters clamoured to snap up tickets.

Dortmund, who held an open ballot, received more than half a million ticket requests for their 24,000 allocation, while Bayern, who restricted their draw to members only, received 250,000 applications.

"Unfortunately I haven't got a ticket, but I'm looking forward to soaking in the atmosphere of a Champions League final," said Dortmund fan Felix Koehler, who has flown in from Berlin.

"It'll be great to see the Bundesliga showcased at London's Wembley and that fact it involves Dortmund takes it to a whole new level."

"I couldn't do anything else, I had to be here"

- Dortmund fan who paid over $1000 for ticket

All German pubs are expecting bumper crowds of thirsty fans while Zeitgeist, on London's south bank, is expecting 3,000 fans packed into watch the game on giant screens.

"It's going to be hell when the football starts," said a waitress, in German, with a grin.

One Dortmund fan, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had got a ticket on the internet for $1168 on Wednesday, but despite the high price: "I couldn't do anything else, I had to be here."

London's notorious traffic took its toll on both teams on their way to the stadium for Friday's training sessions and press conferences.

Dortmund needed an hour and a half to reach Wembley from their Watford hotel in north London, while Bayern were half an hour late arriving from their city centre hotel.

Borussia coach Klopp quipped that their police escort might need to put on their blue lights if his team were to reach Wembley stadium on Saturday.

"We had three police bikes in front of us, but they didn't put their lights on and we were in heavy traffic," said the bemused 45-year-old.

"If we are going to get to the match on Saturday, they need to put their blue lights on, if someone knows a policeman can they ask him to turn them on, please?"

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Source:
AFP
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