It’s one of the great footballing nations in the world (2 European Championships, a World Cup and 7 Champions League wins this century) so you’d imagine that the stadiums would be a cauldron of passion for the beautiful game. And one of the charms of Spanish club football is the delightful mix between the old and the new – with some of the great footballing cathedrals steeped in tradition and harking back to a different era (even if this is, on occasion, just a polite way of saying they’re old!). Either way, to visit the stadiums of the famous names in Spanish football is to sample a uniquely Spanish experience and a chance to set foot in some grand old arenas that have played host to some of the greatest names in the history of the sport.
Camp Nou – Barcelona
We start with the biggest of the lot. Home of the Catalan giants of Barcelona, Camp Nou is, quite simply, one of the geat footballing amphitheatres in the world. With an attendance of 99,354 this is as big as it gets in terms of club football. Towering tiered stands loom above the lush green of the field in this enormous bowl of a stadium and, whilst the Madrid contingent may baulk, this represents pretty much the most iconic arena in Spain and, one of the great stadiums of the world.
A host stadium at the 1982 World Cup (and a venue of one of the semi-finals) it has also hosted 2 European Cup finals and has been the home turf for some of the great names in world football history – from Cruyff to Maradona, Ronaldo to Messi.
Santiago Bernabeu – Madrid
An impressive, towering stadium in the heart of the capital, the 81,000 capacity Santiago Bernabeu is home to the biggest, most successful club in world football – Real Madrid. The ten times European Champions and many times over Spanish kings the Santiago Bernabeu has played host to some of the most dramatic moments in Spanish, European and World football. The site where Puskas paraded his sublime touch, where the Galacticos enthralled a generation. Santiago Bernabeu has also been the venue for 4 European Cup finals and was the stadium that hosted the final of the 1982 World Cup where Italy beat West Germany for their 3rd World crown and the match that saw Tardelli run off on one of the most intense, iconic goal celebrations in the history of the game.
Estadio de La Cartuja – Seville
One of Spain’s more modern arenas this 57,000 capacity stadium was built in time to host to the 1999 World Athletics Championship and has subsequently been adopted as the go to home venue for the Spanish football team. The impressive arena is a typical modern stadium in that it has been designed as a multi-purpose venue, which is just as well because the two Seville teams (Sevilla and Real Betis) DON’T use it – although that may well change in the future. However, it remains a stadium with a growing football pedigree, hosting international matches as well as the 2007 Copa Del Rey and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final between Celtic and FC Porto.
The Mestalla – Valencia
This is a proper footy stadium and home of a proper footy team, comprised of proper, fervent footy fans. Often seen as Spain’s 3rd club (behind the obvious 2!) Valencia have, on occasions, made the Mestalla a real fortress, with their 55,000 passionate fans providing a hostile welcome for visiting teams. Originally built in 1923 the stadium has gone through a number of renovations yet remains today one of the great traditional venues for club football. That said, it was also the venue for Spain’s 3 first round matches in the 1982 World Cup, including a famous (and forgettable, if Spanish) 1-0 defeat at the hands of Northern Ireland.
Vicente Calderon – Madrid
Home to 2014 Champions Atletico Madrid this impressive old stadium has been awarded the status of 5 star elite stadium by UEFA, the first in Spain to achieve the award. With a 54,000 capacity the stadium has played host to countless dramatic moments in Spanish football and been the home of a litany of superstar centre forwards over the past 15 years from Fernando Torres and Radamel Falcao to Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa. In 1982 it was the host venue for 3 World Cup matches including a Platini inspired French demolition of Spain’s conquerors Northern Ireland in round 2.