IN PICS: They came, they drank, they conquered. How Liverpool fans turned Madrid red

Some 70,000 football fans flooded into Madrid for the Champions League final at the weekend. Paul D. Thacker spent 48 hours on the Madrid streets following the fans and capturing some of their highs and lows.

IN PICS: They came, they drank, they conquered. How Liverpool fans turned Madrid red
Two Liverpool fans crashed out in Sol after the Champions League final on Saturday Photo: Paul D. Thacker
Madrid authorities had set up two dedicated fanzones. Tottenham fans were given Plaza Colon and Liverpool fans, who far outnumbered them, were told to congregate in the Plaza Felipe II.
But the fanzones didn't contain them, and throughout the day and well into the night the streets in the capital were filled with British men, many shirtless and heading towards sunburn, most belting out chants at the top of their voices.
Liverpool fans seemed to  be taking over, much more ubiquitous than their Tottenham rivals.
The Liverpool Fanzone in Madrid. Photo: Paul D. Thacker
With temperatures in Madrid reaching 33C in the shade, it was a struggle to keep cool, especially in the fan zones. 
Keeping the beers safe. Photo: Paul D. Thacker
But at 6pm the fanzones were closed, and with no big screens broadcasting the game, fans spread out across the city seeking bars with a view of a screen.
Fans spilled out across the city, crowding Puerto del Sol, filling the terraces of Plaza Mayor, and packing out the bars around Plaza Santa.
Irish bars across Madrid were the first to fill to capacity. Photo: Paul D. Thacker
They crammed into Irish bars until there was no more room, and then they filled the streets outside, peering through windows to try and catch a view of the television.

Liverpool fans seemed to outnumber Spurs but there was little trouble. Photo: Paul D. Thacker
Hordes of fans squeezed into small airless bars, draining beer supplies, and turning the air blue with their banter. 

Photo: Paul D. Thacker
Then, with a two-nil win under their belt, the Reds claimed the streets of Madrid. Some were rowdy, swinging from trees and jumping onto parked cars.

Photo: Paul D. Thacker
But considering the huge crowds and the amount of alcohol consumed, there was relatively little trouble. 
Only 14 arrests related to the Champions League in total, around half a dozen for fighting, four for touting fake tickets, one for masturbating in public and another for breaking down the door of an apartment he wrongly thought he was staying in for the night.
Dozens were pickpocketed during the weekend, according to accounts on supporters' facebook groups, as thieves took advantage of the crowds, and 172 had to seek medical treatment from emergency services – mostly heatstroke and too much alcohol.
Some were unable to find beds for the night. But that didn't really matter.

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.