Chilling pic shows horror threat to Champions League fans

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It is one of the most anticipated sports events in the world but the UEFA Champions League has been hit by a dark threat as the competition’s quarter finals began overnight.

Security was reinforced at matches on Tuesday and Wednesday after a communication outlet supporting the Islamic State group published threats against stadiums.

The outlet showed images of the host stadiums in Paris, Madrid and London and urged terrorists “recreate the glory of the 2015 Paris attacks” which killed 138 people.

European football’s governing body UEFA said all four games would go ahead despite the jihadist threat.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said security would be “considerably reinforced” when Paris Saint-Germain take on Barcelona in the first leg at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

Darmanin said there had been “a clear threat publicly expressed by the Islamic State”.

“The police, whom I spoke to very early this morning, have considerably reinforced the security measures,” the minister told reporters.

PSG coach Luis Enrique said in his pre-match news conference: “I hope it is a thing we can control and that they are just threats and that nothing will happen.”

A French source close to the issue told AFP: “IS has threatened the Champions League quarter-finals, not specifically in France, through one of its communication outlets.”

Two games are taking place this week in Madrid — Real Madrid hosted Manchester City on Tuesday, while Atletico Madrid face Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Pilar Alegria, speaking for the Spanish government, said more than 2,000 police would be deployed “to guarantee total security”.

“We are going to have an exceptional deployment of security services, in line with the level of alert set out by the intelligence services,” Francisco Martin Aguirre, the government’s delegate for Madrid, said in a video message.

Police aware of plans

In London, where Arsenal took on Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said it was aware of the calls to target matches.

“However, I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said.

UEFA said all the matches would be played.

“UEFA is aware of alleged terrorist threats made towards this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues,” the statement said.

“All matches are planned to go ahead as scheduled with appropriate security arrangements in place.” The pro-IS channel that published the calls for violent attacks featured images of the Emirates Stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu and Metropolitano stadiums in Madrid, as well as the Parc des Princes in Paris.

A French expert on the online communication of jihadist groups told AFP they came from Al-Azaim, the mouthpiece for Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan (ISKP), which is suspected of being behind an attack on a concert venue in Moscow last month which killed more than 140 people.

However the expert, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said the posts were aimed at inciting others, rather than detailing a specific attack.

Many European countries are on their highest possible terror warning level after the attack in Moscow.

Results

Real Madrid and Champions League holders Manchester City shared a pulsating 3-3 draw in a rollercoaster quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

Bernardo Silva put City ahead with a low free-kick but Ruben Dias’ own goal and Rodrygo Goes helped Madrid dramatically and swiftly fight back.

Manchester City’s own quick-fire double in the second half through Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol stunned the record 14-time winners, but they snatched a draw through Fede Valverde’s scorching volley.

Meanwhile, Arsenal rescued a 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich as Leandro Trossard’s late leveller stopped Harry Kane making a triumphant return to north London in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Trossard came off the bench to equalise in the closing stages at the Emirates Stadium after former Tottenham striker Kane put Bayern 2-1 ahead with a first-half penalty.

Arsenal had taken an early lead through Bukayo Saka before former Gunners winger Serge Gnabry put Bayern back on level terms.

Kane scored a north London derby record 14 goals against Arsenal during his time with Tottenham, making him an inevitable target for taunts for Gunners fans.

When Kane bagged his sixth career goal at the Emirates — and his 39th in all competitions in his first season with Bayern — it seemed the England captain would have the last laugh.

But Trossard’s dramatic intervention leaves the tie delicately poised ahead of the second leg in Munich on April 17.

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