KIEV, Ukraine: Liverpool fans are outnumbering and outsinging Real Madrid’s following in the 63,000-capacity crowd.
Both teams’ fan anthems were played before kickoff and the red scarves of Liverpool fans peppered one corner of the end occupied by Madrid supporters during “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The game kicked off with Liverpool fans’ current Champions League song, “Allez, Allez, Allez,” booming around the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Both teams were allocated more than 16,000 tickets for the game.
UEFA expects a global television audience of more than 160 million for the Champions League final.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA’s marketing director, says the audience rating will include viewers watching the game streamed live on YouTube in Britain.
Epstein tells The Associated Press that Real Madrid and Liverpool have “two strong brands” and global appeal.
Liverpool, which has a strong following in Asia, is also playing in its first Champions League final for 11 years.
“There has been a lot of hype with the way the teams qualified,” Epstein says. “It’s been a mad season.”
The best-performing recent final was a 175 million “global in-home average audience” for the 2011 final when Barcelona beat Manchester United.
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Real Madrid attack needing to score twice to match his own single-season Champions League record.
The Madrid star has 15 goals in the competition, and got 17 in the 2013-14 title-winning season. His record year included a penalty in the last minute of extra time in the final to cap a 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo seems sure to be the Champions League top scorer for the sixth straight year, and outright top scorer in five of them.
He is five goals ahead of Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, who have 10 each. Sadio Mane, who also starts in the Liverpool attack, has nine.
It’s the same Madrid lineup as last year’s final — a 4-1 win against Juventus.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric; Francisco ‘Isco’ Alarcon, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
Liverpool: Loris Karius; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.