Welcome to the Wanda Metropolitano! Atletico set to start life at their spectacular new stadium

Comments()
Atlético Madrid
The Rojiblancos played their final fixture at their old home in May and will now begin a new chapter with the inauguration of a new ground on Saturday

Relocation is often a stressful affair. There were tears and emotional scenes as Atletico Madrid bade farewell to the Vicente Calderon in May after just over 50 years down by the Manzanares river, but now it is time to settle into a new home.

Atletico have played their first four fixtures on the road this season as the finishing touches are applied to their new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, which will be inaugurated on Saturday evening in the Liga match against Malaga.

If the name seems strange - and it was widely mocked on social media following its announcement - it is because the first part comes from Chinese conglomerate company Wanda Group, while the second segment is a nod to Atletico's previous ground, the Estadio Metropolitano, which was used prior to the Calderon between 1923 and 1966.

Article continues below

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

"It's a fantastic stadium," Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said this week. And he added: "Atletico have paid €170 million of the total €310m, with the rest coming from compensation from the grounds at the Calderon site."

Wanda Group bought a 20 per cent stake in Atletico in 2015 and the Chinese firm will pay the Madrid club €10m per season for naming rights on the new stadium over a period of 10 years, with added bonuses if the club win trophies in that time. That means the Rojiblancos will receive at least €100m from the Asian firm over the next decade.

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico inside

Wanda Metropolitano inside Atletico

The Wanda Metropolitano has a capacity of almost 68,000, making it significantly larger than the Vicente Calderon, which had space for just under 55,000 supporters, and it is, logically, much more modern than the club's former home.

It is not a completely new stadium, however. Originally opened in 1993, it was built with a bid for the 1997 World Athletics Championships in mind and later considered as a possible site for the 2016 Olympic Games. Neither of those, however, were awarded to Madrid.

Built back then by architects Cruz & Ortiz, the original capacity was just 20,000 and the stadium was nicknamed 'La Peineta' due to its supposed resemblance to a traditional hair comb.

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

Atletico have had their eye on the location for a possible new stadium in the east of the city for many years and Saturday's match will not be the first for the Rojiblancos on the site, as the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa against Barcelona was played at La Peineta in 1996. Atleti, with current coach Diego Simeone in the side, won that match 3-1, although they lost the tie 6-5 on aggregate.

Kiko also featured that day and the former Spain striker told Goal: "The new stadium looks spectacular. Obviously there are so many memories from the Calderon, but the move to the Wanda Metropolitano is exciting and I am sure the Atletico fans will make sure the atmosphere is fantastic, just like it always was at the Calderon."

Wanda Metropolitano Atletico

Kiko, who visited the site this week, said: "It is going to be a challenge for Atletico and for Simeone because it can be difficult to adjust to a new stadium, but the supporters will be behind the team as always and that will help the players to settle."

Many fans did not want to leave the Calderon and the move came against their wishes, with Atletico deciding to sell the old stadium and relocate to this new site, which is far away from their heartland in the south of Madrid.

But Kiko said: "If you want to compete with the top clubs in Spain and Europe, you need to have a bigger and better stadium. Other clubs are building new stadiums. The Wanda is in keeping with Atletico's history and will be an important part of the club's future."

Wanda Metropolitano inside

Wanda Metropolitano inside

Meanwhile, there has been much speculation over Simeone's future over the past two years, but the Argentine coach has always said he wanted to lead Atletico into their new stadium and the 47-year-old agreed a two-year contract extension earlier this month.

"I see the older players with the same enthusiasm as the youngsters and the youngsters with the experience of the older players," the former midfielder enthused. "That motivates me and makes me enthusiastic and that is why I have decided to continue."

Wanda Metropolitano seats

Simeone, Cerezo and several of the Atletico players visited the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this month and travelled by metro, disembarking at the renamed Estadio Metropolitano station that provides access to the new ground.

Building work continued behind them and in the past few days, goalposts have gone up and lines have been painted on the pitch as the final preparations take place ahead of the inauguration on Saturday.

Ticket prices start at €55 and doors open at 19:00, just under two hours before kick-off, with a special light show planned, along with fireworks, parachutists and the presence of the Air Force to represent the club's historic roots as Atletico Aviación.

Wanda Metropolitano Simeone players

More important than all of that, however, will be the football and midfielder Saul said: "It would be really special to score the first goal at the Wanda Metropolitano. And if it's not me, I hope it can be one of the homegrown players."

For his part, Simeone said: "It generates nervousness, anxiety, optimism, excitement. But you will fall in love with the new stadium. I can tell you that it is gorgeous. And what I perceive is that it is going to be a pressure cooker atmosphere, because the fans are right by the pitch."

Next article:
Isco is the best player in the world, says Rafael van der Vaart
Next article:
I haven't seen Guardiola or Klopp do that – Lampard slams Bielsa's Leeds spying presentation
Next article:
'We always play to win' - Real Madrid's Casemiro defends loss against Leganes
Next article:
Liga MX transfer news: The latest rumors and chisme in Mexican soccer
Next article:
Madrid were 'weak' in Leganes loss, says Solari
Close