(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Madrid: Sniffer dogs, mounted police, helicopters, security forces in their hundreds and countless identity checks greeted fans for yesterday's El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Supporters flocking to see the mammoth clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish capital at 8: 17 pm Qatar time were confronted with an unprecedented security display for what is widely regarded as the biggest game in world football, just over a week after the deadly Paris attacks.
"I'm 20 and in 20 years that I've been coming here, it's the first time I've seen something like this. There's always police, but nothing like today," said student Borja Jimenez, as he stood having a drink before entering the mythic stadium in Madrid.
"It's super secure, there's no way anyone can bring in a bomb here," added the Real Madrid supporter, who had to go through three checks before he was able to enter the ring of security laid out by authorities in streets adjacent to the ground.
Some 1,000 police were deployed to protect the stadium and another 1,400 security guards also kept a watchful eye on a game that has an estimated global television audience of 500 million.
Spanish authorities have labelled the game a "high risk" one after the Stade de France was one of a number of targets struck during the Paris attacks last week that left 130 people dead and more than 350 injured.
In the days following the attacks, Spain's friendly against Belgium in Brussels was postponed due to the elevated terror threat and Germany's meeting with the Netherlands called off by a bomb threat, as jittery authorities feared a repeat incident.
In Madrid, as supporters queued to enter the 81,000-strong stadium and have their pockets and bags searched, armed police stood watch every few metres, other security forces on horseback passed by and still others walked around with sniffer dogs.
But the heightened security appeared not to have dampened the excitement of the thousands who flocked to the stadium, some from as far away as Tajikistan... or from France, like Melanie Bezzazi, whose relatives were worried about her travelling to Madrid for the game.
"We can't deprive oneself of everything, cancel everything... They cancelled quite a lot of stuff in France, quite a lot of events so we came here hoping to enjoy things a bit," the 25-year-old said.
Martinez breaks two-year drought as Bayern go eight clear
Javi Martinez scored his first goal for Bayern Munich for two years on yesterday in his side's 3-1 win at Schalke 04 which opened an eight-point lead. After second-placed Borussia Dortmund's shock 3-1 defeat at Hamburg on Friday, Pep Guardiola's Bayern took their chance to extend their lead.
David Alaba's early goal was cancelled out by Schalke's Max Meyer before Martinez, then Thomas Mueller struck for Bayern. They took a fortuitous lead in Gelsenkirchen when Alaba's long-range shot clipped Leon Goretzka's heel and flew into the Schalke net with nine minutes gone.
Schalke drew level through Meyer's superb goal on 17 minutes when he turned Bayern captain Philipp Lahm and powered his shot past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. But Bayern maintained their unbeaten record in Germany's top flight when Spain's Martinez headed Arjen Robben's pin-point cross on 69 minutes.
It was the centre-back's first league goal for Bayern since August 2013, then Mueller added a late third by curling his shot inside the far post. Earlier, Germany striker Max Kruse netted twice in Wolfsburg's 6-0 rout of Werder Bremen. Kruse said he was glad to get back to football after the horror scenes from Paris and the postponed Germany-Holland friendly in Hannover last Tuesday due to a bomb scare.
There was a minute's silence at all Bundesliga grounds-the players also wore black armbands-out of respect for the Paris victims.
"Of course you have a few thoughts after a week like that, but we have to go out as role models and not be put off by what has happened," said Kruse.
Stuttgart's 4-0 thumping at home to Augsburg was delayed by 15 minutes due to the tightened security checks at stadiums across the country. There were no such problems at Wolfsburg's Volkswagen Arena as Bremen gifted the opener when defender Alejandro Galvez slid the ball into his own net on 11 minutes.
Kruse put Wolfsburg 2-0 up at the break by heading home a free-kick then Portugal international Vierinha netted on 56 minutes.
The floodgates opened when France midfielder Josuha Guilavogui, on for the injured Brazil star Luiz Gustavo, stabbed home his shot, Kruse then set up Netherlands striker Bas Dost on 78 minutes.
He completed the scoring three minutes from time by converting a cross. The result leaves Wolfsburg five points behind Dortmund.
Borussia Moenchengladbach are up to fourth as Andre Schubert celebrated his first match in charge as head coach with a 2-1 win at home to Hanover 96. Having taken over in September with Borussia bottom of the table, the 42-year-old has been promoted from a caretaker role after steering Gladbach to seven wins and a draw in his eight league games.
Gladbach took the lead when Ibrahima Traore was left unmarked with half an hour gone. Hanover equalised through Artur Sobiech on 65 minutes, but Brazil striker Raffael scored the winner six minutes from time. Ex-Manchester United star Javier Hernandez scored his first brace for Bayer Leverkusen in their 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Bayern Munich's David Alaba (left) and Javier Martinez celebrate a goal. (Reuters)
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