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Nothing has changed at the Stade de France after Champions League final carnage in Paris

It is the sight of a police van that immediately jars. There it is, beneath the underpass, jutting out at a big, dangerous right-angle and causing problems for those who try to pass by.

You tell yourself this cannot be real. In the same underpass, just over two weeks earlier, the same kind of vehicle was parked in the same kind of way and caused chaos, leaving thousands of Liverpool fans terrified on what should have been one of the best nights of their lives.

But it is real, all right. It is a dreadful nuisance, leading to bottlenecks and delays. This time it is supporters from France and Croatia who are going through this ordeal and discovering that conditions around the Stade de France are not tailored to their comfort or needs.

Whether it is arrogance or incompetence, it is hard to differentiate. But outside the stadium on Monday, Sportsmail spent two hours retracing our footsteps from May 28 trying to see what — if anything — had changed in the wake of the Champions League final.

A French government report published last Friday said there had been ‘multiple failures’ around crowd management, poor communication and route planning for transport, all of which culminated in kick-off being delayed twice.

When you fail at something the natural thing to do is to make immediate improvement, but the positioning of that van ahead of this Nations League fixture told you the police and authorities were being selective in what they were prepared to address.

The same police van was parked under an underpass at the Stade de France ahead of France's game against Croatia that caused bottlenecks and delays before the Champions League final

The same police van was parked under an underpass at the Stade de France ahead of France’s game against Croatia that caused bottlenecks and delays before the Champions League final

The Stade de France welcomes spectators two weeks on from the Champions League final

The Stade de France welcomes spectators two weeks on from the Champions League final

Liverpool fans were tear-gassed by French police ahead of the Champions League final in Paris

Liverpool fans were tear-gassed by French police ahead of the Champions League final in Paris

Sportsmail spent two hours retracing our footsteps from May 28 to see if anything had changed

Sportsmail spent two hours retracing our footsteps from May 28 to see if anything had changed

Nothing had been done to improve the 10-minute walk from the Metro station over to the stadium.

There was a very heavy police presence here, with at least 35 stony-faced officers, some carrying machine guns, surrounding the main entrance.

From here, you cross a busy slip road and a gravel path. The thing I noticed immediately before the Champions League final, as we headed to the first checkpoint, was a fence that had buckled under the weight of people being squashed against it.

That same fencing at the same checkpoint was still there. It still had Champions League branding on it and in a poor attempt to hide the damage, someone had placed a huge bin in front of it.

The fiasco has been described as a ‘massive failure’ by the authorities, leaving fans concerned

There was a very heavy police presence at the main entrance before the Nations League game

There was a very heavy police presence at the main entrance before the Nations League game

This was the point of the stadium where Real Madrid fans gained access, as their fan park had been in Saint-Denis. The experiences Liverpool supporters endured have been widely reported but the Spaniards went through hell too.

That was down to the organised crime that went unchallenged all night long, with muggings and assaults widespread.

The police stood by, doing nothing to provide help, as young menaces scurried between their helpless victims.

As Sportsmail reported on Saturday, French authorities asked for references to local gangs to be removed from reports, but were clearly aware of the malevolence that had gone on, as we learnt during a conversation in nearby brasserie L’Escargot.

Real Madrid supporters recounted the same horror stories as their Liverpool counterparts

Real Madrid supporters recounted the same horror stories as their Liverpool counterparts

A barman named Amak says: ‘On the day of the final, there were many people. On the side of the stadium opposite to where we are, the bars had to close because of the trouble. It was very bad, very tense.

‘There were a lot of pickpockets. Today it is different, there are now policemen everywhere. The pickpockets find it much harder but they are still here, trying.’

It was certainly noticeable outside the gates that there were no local youths this time. Still, the process for gaining entry was painfully slow and at 8.42pm, as La Marseillaise was being belted out inside, there were still thousands of fans waiting to be admitted.

One thing that had changed was there were now lanes for queues but, again, very little stewarding.

This was not the kind of game where touts would charge €2,000 a ticket, as they were for the Champions League final, but you could not help but wonder what it would be like the next time there is a really high-level contest here.

Before we left, there was a reminder of how quickly things can change.

There were now lanes for queues at turnstiles but there was still very little stewarding

There were now lanes for queues at turnstiles but there was still very little stewarding

A group of 10 to 15 Croats had been refused entry and 25 policemen sprang into action

A group of 10 to 15 Croats had been refused entry and 25 policemen sprang into action

A group of 10 to 15 Croats had been refused entry and were waving their tickets through the barriers, pleading to be admitted. It was unclear why they were not being let through.

When voices were raised, 25 policemen sprang into action and were ready to throw their weight around.

They did not reach for the tear gas this time, nor did they pull out their batons, but it would not have taken much.

Old habits, as we saw with the van, die hard.


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