Super Cup Fever Grips Macedonian Capital

With an abundance of activities for local and visiting football fans, Skopje has begun the countdown to the biggest sporting event in its recent history, the hosting of the 2017 UEFA Super Cup final.

Football fever has gripped the Macedonian capital Skopje as thousands of fans from all around the world arrived for the spectacle that will pit Real Madrid against Manchester United on Tuesday evening at Skopje's Filip II Arena.

With some 20,000 foreign visitors expected to attend the match, the city authorities have set up three ‘fan zones’ in the city centre, one for United fans, another for supporters of Real and a third, neutral one, which seems to have been getting the most attention.

Visitors to the neutral zone, located at the main Macedonia square have the opportunity to see the three UEFA trophies - the Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup trophy.

While they are waiting for the match, which begins at 8.45pm local time, fans in the neutral fan zone can enjoy one-on-one football games, penalty shootouts and freestyle football accompanied by music played by DJs and local pop stars.

"We have done everything we could so that fans see Skopje as the perfect place for the Super Cup," Skopje mayor Koce Trajanovski told media.

The most prominent venues for watching the match on giant screens will be located in the Old Bazaar district, along the Vardar river in the city centre and in Skopje's Bohemian Street, which is located in the Debar Maalo district, just five minutes' walk from the stadium.

Another venue open for visitors will be the beer festival dubbed ‘Pivolend’ which kicks off on Tuesday near the city fortress with an array of local and Balkan music.

"It feels great to be here. We just arrived and we are hyped already, we are excited to see all the greatest football stars in one place," one fan from Spain told BIRN at the main square on Monday.

"I hope that Manchester United will win. We are going to see the match and after that we are headed for a celebration... We have not decided yet where," a Manchester United fan from Britain told BIRN.

"I have to say it is a bit hot, but we don't mind," another fan from Portugal said, referring to the scorching 40 degrees Celsius temperature in central Skopje.

"The party here [at the main square] seems amazing and we are bound to have good time," he added.

The Super Cup poses a security challenge for the authorities and some 2,000 police officers have been deployed to ensure public safety around the arena.

A special traffic and pedestrian regime was introduced on streets and boulevards leading to the arena, where only visitors and vehicles with proper UEFA accreditations will be allowed to go.

The city's hospitals are also primed for action in case of incidents.

Macedonia's first UEFA club competition will be attended by some 33,000 fans at the Skopje Arena.

The clash will pit Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo against his former club United, while Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho will also face his old side.

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