Atletico move into the future at wonderful Wanda Metropolitano

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The Rojiblancos inaugurated their new stadium in spectacular style on Saturday and now have a ground that is up there with any other club in Europe

The future starts here for Atletico Madrid. For a club so fond of remembering the past, the Paseo de los Melancólicos and the glory days at the old but always atmospheric Vicente Calderon, the move to the Wanda Metropolitano was difficult for some supporters to take. When they saw their new home, however, everything changed.

Saturday's spectacular inauguration of Atletico's new stadium will live long in the memory and afterwards, coach Diego Simeone admitted: "I have never seen anything like it. I will remember it for the rest of my life."

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He will not be the only one. Atletico beat Malaga 1-0 thanks to an Antoine Griezmann goal in the second half, the France forward perhaps a fitting first scorer at the new stadium, further cementing his status as a symbol for this club.

There were huge cheers when it went in, as well as much relief because Atletico were clearly nervous amid so much expectation. And club legend Fernando Torres was also given a rousing reception from fans when he emerged from the bench late in the game.

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

But the football was secondary on a day of celebration for Atletico fans, with the Wanda Metropolitano close to it's capacity of almost 68,000 - and the supporters clearly liked what they saw as they took photos and shot videos to mark the occasion.

There was a minor hiccup earlier in the day as the flag outside the stadium was erected upside down, the club's crest pointing to the ground. That was merely anecdotic, however, and an air show before kick-off remembered the club's past as Atletico Aviacion. 

Outside the ground, there are plaques dedicated to every Atletico player who has made 100 appearances or more for the club. That means there was one for Hugo Sanchez, the Mexican striker not a popular inclusion after he moved to rivals Real in 1985. Fans had asked the club not to honour Hugo, but there he was and his plaque was covered in cigarette butts, empty beer cans and litter by angry atléticos.

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

In general, though, the mood was celebratory and before kick-off, parachutists dropped down from the sky to deliver the match ball and the Spanish flag. Afterwards, the players thanked the fans with a lap of honour and a fabulous firework display followed. This was spectacular stuff.

The supporters kept singing, too, and waving flags long after the game had finished. "All the fans waving the flags, it's as if they wanted to be on the pitch," Simeone said. "It was an emotional night and the supporters will be more and more important as time goes by."

Spectacular firework display at the Wanda Metropolitano after Atlético de Madrid inaugurated their new stadium with a 1-0 win over Málaga CF on Saturday night... Posted by Ben Hayward on Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Wanda Metropolitano is much larger than the Calderon, so the atmosphere will take time. It was always going to lack the impressive intensity of the club's former home, but the fans did their best to make their voices heard and the acoustics are very good.

Perhaps more importantly than that, this is a stadium that takes Atletico into the big time, a fitting home for a club that has established itself as one of the best in Europe in recent seasons. From the crumbling Calderon to the wonderful Wanda - this spectacular stadium is up there with any other on the continent and it should herald a fine future for the Rojiblancos.

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