Fans prepare for El Clasico match to be held at Hard Rock Stadium

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Two of the world’s biggest and best-known soccer teams are preparing to face off at Hard Rock Stadium this weekend, and fans are pumped for the highly anticipated showdown.

But first, the bad news: Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not be present at Saturday’s El Clasico match pitting FC Barcelona against Real Madrid.

Enraptured fans seen standing outside the Miami Gardens venue on Friday, however, did not seem to mind the celebrity absence all that much. They braved the sun and came out clad in team jerseys to show their support. One boy even held up his Messi scarf for 7News cameras.

Showing up at the Miami Gardens venue was an easy decision for these enthusiasts. “Number 1, I love the soccer,” said one man.

Another fan hoisted both teams’ flags.

Others weren’t as diplomatic. “We’re Real Madrid fans,” said one woman.

They’re picking sides, hoping to snag autographs at practice for Saturday’s exhibition match.

Hours earlier, hundreds flocked to Bayfront Park to attend the Casa Clasico celebrations at Bayfront Park. They cheered and snapped pictures as members from FC Barcelona and Real Madrid took to the stage. FC Barcelona player Lionel Messi was even on hand for the event.

Matis Quinteros was one of hundreds of starstruck fans. “I just saw them over there, like 30 minutes ago, I just saw them, and it was so crowded and really awesome,” he said.

Fellow admirer Facundo Canossa could not contain his Messi love. “It was exciting to see one of the best players in the world: Messi. He’s like my idol,” he said.

Kids were able to enjoy the fun with a special youth soccer game.

Hours later, 7News Skyforce hovered above Hard Rock Stadium as fans sat in anticipation of the pre-game practice.

Fans got a head start on the soccer fun on Thursday at FC Barcelona’s practice, held at Barry University.

One fan at Hard Rock Stadium said fans’ excitement shows events like Saturday’s game turn fringe soccer fans into full-blown soccer fans. “There’s international stuff happening every year with all these European teams coming to the U.S.,” he said. “It’s encouraging [American] soccer fans to really enjoy soccer.”

For more information on the El Clasico Miami events, click here.

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