Masses of people swarm through the streets, chanting for their team and waving their sparklers, filling the air with red smoke as if they are getting ready to go to war. And this is just a warm-up for what’s to come.
Long before kick-off, groups of fans gather at the bars near the Santiago Bernabéu. Smokers come in and out, religiously rushing through their cigarettes to de-stress, as predictions for the game fly around amid the noise of dozens of conversations that mix excitement and nervousness.
Security guards dressed in bright yellow scrutinise people’s bags as ticket-readers at the entrance beep. The metal turnstiles spin to welcome fans back for another ‘big European night’ as Real Madrid fans refer to Champions League games. Tonight’s rivals are Paris Saint-Germain, one of Europe’s most feared squads.
As I enter the stadium and navigate my way to my seat, the loud warm-up music and the bright green of the extraordinarily illuminated field fill the senses. Everyone arrives early for these games to listen to the most iconic music in all sport: the Champions League anthem.
As the majestic song starts, the crowd go completely silent, as if everyone’s hearts have stopped to take in perhaps the most magical moment for any football fan. “These are the champions…” The blast of music and the wave of the giant Champions League banner seem to overflow the stadium into the city, the whole world. This is the power of football.
The crowd erupts and players occupy their positions on the field. The referee blows the whistle and Los Blancos immediately take control of the game, with the visitors struggling to contain their host’s dynamic players.
Real Madrid jump into a 2-0 lead to the delight of their fans, but PSG display unbelievable skill and swiftness to tie the game in just a few minutes. Although outnumbered, the supporters from Paris are now making themselves heard as the home crowd sit shocked at the sudden turn of events.
However, ultimately both sets of fans keep on cheering for two courageous, dazzling teams who have showed outstanding quality in their play. And with a final score of 2-2, both sets can reflect on a memorably big European night – and begin counting down the minutes until the next one.