So yesterday afternoon I managed to buy tickets for the Champions League final in Lisbon city centre, at just €10 each, for me and half a dozen tourists who joined me after an entire day of my walking tours for the match at 7:30pm.
They were for the women’s Champions League final, between reigning champions Wolfsburg of Germany and Swedish debutantes Tyresö, in the fascinating Restelo Stadium in Belém, just west of central Lisbon and overlooking the Jeronimos Monastery, (a 500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the glittering Tejo river.
The stadium was just over half full, with around 11,000 spectators spread around the stands, and our contingent made our fair share of noise as we cheered for our respective chosen teams, (most of my new friends joining the one native German in cheering for Wolfsburg, with me and a couple of others opting for the Swedes).
I’ve never seen a women’s game live before, although I had enjoyed watching the World Cup and the Olympics on TV, and figured if I was going to see one then the beset two teams in Europe would be a good place to start.
The style was technically good whilst having a little less of the physicality and ‘shoot on sight’ mentality of the men’s game, and the game certainly didn’t lack excitement. Tyresö took a 2-0 lead into half-time, (led by their Brazilian legend, Marta), only for the Germans to come back and tie the score in the second half. Marta put the Swedes 3-2 up, before two goals turned the game on its head and gave Wolfsburg a deserved 4-3 win, and back-to-back titles.
I learned two things at the game: firstly, that there is a team in Leipzig, Germany, with more or less the same jersey as the New York Red Bulls, (whose jersey I was wearing yesterday, and which had random German men coming up to me in the street and shouting ‘Leipziiiiig!’ at me, which was rather confusing).
And secondly, that if you ask nicely, UEFA cameramen will let you take pictures of you messing around with their cameras.
Now all I need is to repeat this experience tomorrow, Saturday, at the men’s final. I may be prepared to pay a little more than €10 for that ticket…