CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Italians impose virtual state of siege on all-Spanish Champions League final

Some 1,500 troops and police will be in attendance at the San Siro stadium on Saturday night

Italian soldiers patrol central Milan.
Italian soldiers patrol central Milan.A. Ruesga

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The Italian authorities have deployed a massive security presence for for the all-Spanish Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, which takes place in Milan on Saturday evening. This will be the second time in two years both sides have faced each other in the final of European elite soccer.

Hampering what should be a celebration, and in fear of a terrorist attack, a virtual state of siege has been imposed on the northern Italian city, with some 1,500 soldiers and police officers assigned to protecting the San Siro stadium, where snipers have been posted.

The authorities are taking no chances, and last week organized a training exercise at the ground based on a simulated suicide attack and hostage-taking by terrorists.

Spanish acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe will be accompanied by a substantial Spanish delegation at the game

Joining Italian President Sergio Matarella and Prime Minister Mateo Renzi at the game will be Spanish acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Spain’s King Felipe VI, who will be accompanied by a substantial Spanish delegation.

The two Madrid sides will arrive at different airports: Real Madrid has been assigned Malpensa, while Atlético will fly in and out of Orio al Serio, and will even drive into Milan along different routes. Their respective hotels are some five kilometers outside the city, and have been ringed with more security personnel.

This will be the first Champions League final in Milan since Spanish side Valencia lost to Bayern Munich in 2001, prior to the attacks of September 11.

Holding the final in the San Siro has its advantages: the stadium sits in open ground on the outskirts of Milan, and has been ringed by three security filters.

Before entering the 70,000-seat stadium, the 20,000 supporters from each of the two sides that have been allotted a ticket will have to pass through stringent controls, including metal detectors.

The Italian authorities say they are confident that Spanish fans will behave themselves. “It is essential that the two sides’ supporters behave civically and respectfully: I am reasonably optimistic that this high-risk game will pass off normally,” said Antonio De Iesu, a senior police officer overseeing security at the San Siro.

Engish version by Nick Lyne.

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