Treble-winners Barcelona finally met their match on the streets of their home city as up to a million fans flocked to welcome them home from their Champions League final triumph on Thursday. The Catalans have outplayed all comers to win the Spanish League, King's Cup and now the Champions League, but they struggled to make their way through the crowds to the Nou Camp to complete their celebrations. Having beaten Manchester United 2-0 in Rome on Wednesday, the squad flew back to Barcelona on Thursday afternoon and it was coach Pep Guardiola and captain Carles Puyol who carried the European Cup down the steps from the plane. They boarded an open-top bus and with the trophies propped up inside the front windscreen, set off for a journey that would take over three hours. A second bus drove behind pumping out music. Spanish media reported that up to a million fans thronged the streets to greet them. The players, who all wore blue shirts emblazoned with "Cup, League and Champions", danced, sang songs, waved flags and sprayed drinks over the fans. The club threw open the doors of the Nou Camp and a capacity 98,000 crowd had to wait for over an hour past the scheduled arrival time for the team to make their entrance and kick off the evening's festivities. After the final on Wednesday night, around 100,000 fans celebrated in the centre of Barcelona, but events turned ugly later on. Local police told Spanish media they had detained 119 people mainly for public disorder offences and causing damage. Medical services dealt with injuries to 153 people, with 23 needing hospital treatment.
28 May 2009
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