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Berlin flooded by fans for final

Visitors from France and Italy outnumbered the German fans as they entered the German capital ahead of the World Cup final.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2006 04:38 IST

Thousands of fans from France and Italy entered here Saturday ahead of the World Cup final match between their two countries.

But on an afternoon when many patches of the German capital were still underwater from the torrential rains of Friday and early Saturday mornings, the foreign visitors were easily outnumbered by the hordes of German fans that flooded into the city's Fan Mile to watch the third place game later that evening between Germany and Portugal.

"Our team did not win, but they made us proud and this is how we can thank them," said Andreas Braun, 16, as he marched down the public viewing zone together with a group of friends.

Perhaps in a tribute to the finalists the German fans seemed to have adopted a new football chant: "Ooh la la," went the charming ditty. "Deutschland ist wunderbar."

Though Italian and French fans have been relatively inconspicuous so far in the tournament compared to visitors from England, Sweden and Spain, they were on prominent display along the main streets like Unter den Linden and Kurfuerstendamm.

Of special note was a group of Vespa-riding Italian teenagers, who gunned their underpowered two-wheelers up and down the busy streets, beeping their puny horns as they waved their Italian flags.

They set out from Milan Wednesday for the 1,000-kilometre trip on the quintessentially Italian mode of transport as a tribute to their national team. "We don't have tickets but we felt we had to come here and be close to the game," said Fabio Carducci, 19.

Many other fans also came to the German capital without tickets for the final. Some sat on blocks of marble placed outside the main train station to prevent cars from encroaching on the forecourt.

They held up signs reading "Need Tickets", but no-one had any to sell. "I won't give up to the last minute," said Pierre Gentil. "I am praying for success."

But others were going in the opposite direction. French-born Sonya Angel, who now lives here, was heading to Paris, together with her year-old daughter Anaya, who looked like a future champ in her blue French soccer jersey.

"I don't have a ticket so I prefer to see the game with my family," she explained.

--DPA

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