Champions League Final:
Barcelona vs Juventus. 10:45pm
With no World Cup and no European Championships this summer, the Champions League Final on Saturday will be the biggest single game of football played in 2015. Two of the biggest names in world football, Barcelona and Juventus, will collide in Berlin’s Olympiastadion as both seek to complete trophy trebles this season.
Under the careful stewardship of Luis Enrique, Barcelona have emerged from, in their terms, a modest slump to regain the Spanish title and Copa Del Rey, playing the rapid, fluid and often devastating brand of football that powered Pep Guardiola’s side to all-time-great status a few seasons earlier. An injury-free Lionel Messi has again demonstrated he really isn’t of this earth, while Neymar has begun to answer some of his critics with 38 goals in all competitions.
Juventus for their part romped away with the Serie A crown for a fourth a straight year and also won the Coppa Italia against Lazio, powered by Carlos Tevez’s goals and the orchestration of the ageless and apparently razor-less Andrea Pirlo. Going for their third Champions League/European Cup, this is their first Champions League Final since 2003.
So, it’s a game you have to have to watch. And if you’re Dubai, you might try one of these places.
For Barcelona fans
Where: Pyramids Wafi, Oud Metha
Contact: +971 4 324 4777
The official Barcelona supporters club in Dubai, the Penya UAE, meet here for every single game, helped in no small part by the fact the restaurant’s owner is on its board. According to another board member Daniel Rocca, originally from Gibraltar, there will be around 350 Barcelona fans turning up – although in the Guardiola days this could swell to 500.
Tables will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis with the better tables nearer the screens will be reserved for fully paid-up members of the Penya UAE. The crowd will, though, be three short: FC Barcelona offered the Penya tickets to the final in Berlin which were gratefully snapped up by three Seville’s regulars.
“The game kicks off at 10.45pm Dubai time,” says Daniel, “but I think that most of us will be getting there around 8pm to eat and start on the refreshments!”
For Juventus fans
Lounge Cafe Italiano
Where: Dubai Media City
The Juventus supporters club in Dubai, or to give it its full name, Juventus Club DOC Dubai Del Piero and Scirea, meet in a number of Italian restaurants around the city, where as many as 120 fans will gather for the big games. For the final, though, the club will be gathering in Lounge Café Italiano in Media City – the menu of which, we have to admit, the ShortList team regularly thumbs. One of the better run supporters clubs in Dubai, they actually have the backing of the Italian Industry & Commerce Office in the UAE, with whom they helped launch the Juventus Soccer Schools. And if the result doesn’t go their way, we can guarantee the half-time refreshments will be top drawer.
For everyone else
Zabeel Indoor Arena
Where: Crowne Plaza, Sheikh Zayed Road
Contact: 800 – CROWNE
Free entry, bar snacks and a load of house drinks, all from 8pm, this is one of the better places to watch the game in Dubai – not least as there is a massive screen on which it will be shown. There’s also a DJ before the game to get you pumped up, and one after, if you’re so happy with the result you just have to dance it off.
Where: Dubai Marina
Contact: 04 399 0009
This two-tiered, indoor-outdoor space carved a niche for hosting sporting events during last summer’s World Cup, with dozens of interesting activations – PlayStation games, on-the-spot competitions, viewing areas – to keep the viewing experience more interesting than a flat screen and a plate of chips. They’re producing the same for the Champions League Final with a special menu that includes a “Referee Wagyu Beef Burger” and “Penalty Shot Chilli Cheese Fries”. It’s free to get in, so get there early.
Original Wings and Rings
Contact: +971 4 359 6900
A special AED200 package will get you an open buffet of wings, nachos and burgers plus four house drinks (served between 9pm and 12am) at this Downtown sports bar. There are multiple big screens on which to watch the game.
Where: Mina Seyahi
Contact: +971 4 399 3333
No list of sporting venues would be complete without this institution. There’s not a lot we can say about the sprawling beachside venue that hasn’t already been carved into Dubai’s nightlife annals, but what we do know is that the usual big screen has now been covered with a roof and surrounded by AC units for the summer. Should be a cracking atmosphere.