Champions League Final Diary: Bale's biggest fan welcomes Juventus and Real Madrid

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Real Madrid and Juventus touched down in Cardiff on Friday ahead of their Champions League final showdown at the Principality Stadium.

Fans mingled on the banks of the River Taff in the shadow of Wales' national stadium, while the coaches - Zinedine Zidane and Massimiliano Allegri - met the media and shared their thoughts ahead of the game.

Our reporter Matthew Scott brings you the day's highlights from Cardiff.

 

LOW-KEY IN THE CAPITAL

Cardiff simmered, rather than bubbled over, as fans and the city geared themselves up for the big day.

Though Real Madrid and Juventus clans were visible, the overwhelming presence was that of the police - both regular and armed - as the UK remains on high alert after the terror attack in Manchester.

 

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The carnival atmosphere that fans created in Milan a year ago was absent around the Principality Stadium on Friday, with flares and chanting largely giving way to gentle mingling close to the Taff.

 

BALE'S BIGGEST FAN

Gareth Bale is expected to start his hometown final on the bench after missing more than a month of action with a calf injury.

Isco has shone in the Welshman's absence, scoring a crucial away goal against Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.

But we found one local girl, turned Real Madrid fanatic, who believes Bale could still play a crucial role...

 

SWEET DREAMS FOR BUFFON AND ALVES

Players' sleeping patterns are not generally the main topic of their dealings with the media but Juventus duo Dani Alves and Gianluigi Buffon both ended up discussing their pre-match snoozes.

Buffon was asked whether Madrid attacking duo Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo would dominate his dreams.

A slightly nonplussed goalkeeper smartly replied: "I have not had dreams about them, because I would have to dream about all the other Real Madrid players because they're not the only ones who can harm Juventus.

"They have so many great players, I would not have enough time to dream about them all. I usually have to play a match in the afternoon!"

Alves similarly rolled with surprise questioning about whether he would be able to get his eight hours on the eve of the big match.

"I can sleep very well! I would advise my colleagues to sleep well as well because when you wake up the hard work starts," he said.

 

ZIDANE THE COOLEST MAN IN THE ROOM

Pressure? What pressure?

Zinedine Zidane oozed calmness and composure as he met the media in Cardiff. Yet to complete two full seasons as a senior coach, the Frenchman is leading Madrid in a second Champions League final.

Does it make him nervous? No chance.

"If you said I was going to live all of this when I was child I would have not believed it. But now I'm living it and enjoying it. Mostly I'm enjoying everything that's happening," said Zidane.

"I'm just the coach, but there are many of us - especially the players. We realise we're living something spectacular and let's see what happens. It's beautiful to play a final again after the Milan final and now we're just ready to play."

 

MORATA MISSES HIS CHANCE

Alvaro Morata has endured a frustrating season back at Real Madrid and his was a face of stone as the training knockabout saw the Spain striker hit the post twice in the space of 30 seconds in a shirts-bibs contest.

Karim Benzema can rest easy with his striking spot secure, one feels...