Why aren’t Real Madrid home games at Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League and where are they playing?

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Santiago Bernabeu - Real Madrid
The Spanish champions will be playing behind closed doors in a venue that may be decidedly unfamiliar to many fans

The UEFA Champions League has returned, but Real Madrid won't be playing their matches at the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium, which has been their home since 1947.

So why is that the case? Goal brings you everything you need to know about the development.

Why aren't Real Madrid playing at the Bernabeu in La Liga restart?

Real Madrid are not currently playing at Santiago Bernabeu because the stadium is undergoing extensive renovations.

Club president Florentino Perez confirmed the news of the accelerated redevelopment at the beginning of June, ahead of the planned Spanish football restart.

Renovations to the Bernabeu stadium had been projected to conclude in the summer of 2022, but the three-month coronavirus-enforced hiatus encouraged Real Madrid to bring forward their work schedule, so it may be finished sooner.

In 2019, Perez explained the thinking behind renovating the venue: "Our future naturally involves a new Santiago Bernabeu stadium, a reference of the 21st century.

"A modern, avant-garde stadium, with maximum comfort and safety, with state-of-the-art technology, where fans can experience unique sensations and also be a new and important source of income for the club."

The new-look Santiago Bernabeu will have a markedly different appearance to the old iconic venue along with fresh upgrades.

There will be an all-new exterior and it will be covered with a retractable roof, which is a notable departure from the current - and classic - open-air design.

An underground car park will also be put in place on the site of the old Esquina del Bernabeu shopping centre, with approximately 500 spaces expected to be on offer to fans and visiting teams.

The current redevelopment is the first major upgrade work on the venue since the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

It comes not long after the renovation of the Wanda Metropolitano, home of Real's rivals Atletico Madrid, which was modernised in 2017.

Where are Real Madrid playing their games instead?

Real Madrid will play their UEFA Champions League games at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium while the Santiago Bernabeu is renovated.

The Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium is home to Real Madrid Castilla - Real Madrid's reserve team - and has a capacity of 6,000, which is some way off the Bernabeu's 81,000 seats.

However, the capacity of the stadium is ultimately of no relevance when European football chiefs have indicated that games must be played behind closed doors in the interests of public health.

The Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium is part of the Ciudad Real Madrid (meaning Real Madrid City), the club's training complex located in Valdebebas.

It is likely that games from the 2020-21 season onwards will be opened to supporters again and in the event that matches cannot be played at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Wanda Metropolitano has been suggested as an alternative venue. However, it remains to be seen if Real Madrid will explore that possibility.

When asked about the prospect of letting their bitter rivals use their home venue, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo replied: "Would we rent them the Wanda Metropolitano? I’m going to take my mask off to answer you. Let no one doubt that we will be at Real Madrid’s disposal." 

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