2,000 police officers deployed for Champions League final

With an estimated 350 million people expected to watch the world’s biggest club game this weekend, Britain is mounting a huge security operation to ensure the match goes off peacefully.

Amid heightened security following the recent terror attack in Manchester, which killed 22 people, 6,000 police officers — 600 armed — have been deployed in the Welsh capital Cardiff over four days. On Saturday, 2,000 police officers will be on patrol.

Security has also ensured the Principality Stadium roof will be closed when Real Madrid take on Juventus in European club football’s premier competition, making it the first Champions League final to be played under a closed roof.

Shutting the roof prevents the possibility of a terrorist drone strike, though Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said in April there was “no specific threat” of such an attack.

Fan zones have been sectioned off with barriers, while the streets surrounding the stadium are closed. Water travel along the River Taff and Cardiff Bay has also been banned.

Different magnitude

South Wales Police assistance chief commissioner Richard Lewis told CNN that the “eyes of the world” were on Cardiff.

But Lewis said plans had not been changed as a consequence of the Manchester attack, which happened at an Ariana Grande concert.

“From when the event was awarded to Cardiff two years ago there have been a number of terrorist attacks, in France, in Germany. While the Manchester attack was a shock, we haven’t changed our plans, but we have stepped up visibility,” he said.

Nearly 200,000 fans are expected to visit Cardiff, with millions more across the world watching club football’s biggest cup match on TV.

Cardiff is a city accustomed to hosting sporting events, such as the 1999 Rugby World Cup and international rugby union and football matches, but Lewis admitted this match was of a “different magnitude.”

“This is slightly different because there is such a worldwide interest,” he added.

In April, South Wales Police Superintendent Steve Furnham said it would be the “biggest single sporting security operation in the UK.”

Juve and Real eye records

Spanish giants Real are hoping to become the first team to successfully defend their title in 27 years — and the first to do so in the history of the Champions League.

Juventus, who have already won the Coppa Italia and the Italian league, could become only the ninth European side to achieve a cup treble.

Both sides are competing in their sixth Champions League final, equaling a record held by AC Milan.

For Real star Gareth Bale, the match is a bitter-sweet homecoming.

The final is being held just three miles from the Welshman’s old high school and a short drive from his family home, but the forward told CNN this week that he was “obviously not 100 percent match fit” after an injury-plagued end to the season.

The 27-year-old underwent surgery after injuring his ankle in November and has since been suffering from recurring calf injuries, brought on by a premature return to action.

He told CNN that he was resigned to playing a bit part role, but was “ready to go,” if required.