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THE TRADITIONAL RIVALS | La Liga: El Clasico returns to new-look Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid host Barca

IANS | Updated on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 11:01 AM IST
La Liga: El Clasico returns to new-look Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid host Barca

MADRID: It's El Clasico time in Spanish football and this time, the traditional rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will meet on April 21 in a refurbished Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, which is a symbol of both the city of Madrid and of La Liga.

Since its inauguration in 1947, this venue has hosted so many hugely significant sporting events. The El Clasico has itself been played 101 times in this stadium, with 51 victories for Real Madrid, 28 for FC Barcelona and 22 draws. In addition, the Santiago Bernabéu has witnessed historic moments like Real Madrid’s legendary Champions League victories, the 1982 World Cup final and the 2018 Copa Libertadores final. In recent times, the stadium has undergone a thorough refurbishment that has completely transformed its exterior and interior.

The redeveloped home of Los Blancos has a capacity of more than 81,000 spectators and it can also host concerts and other major events. Besides the marquee clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona on April 21, there are many more things to look forward to.

The new-look Santiago Bernabeu is already being enjoyed by fans. Since 2019, the ground has undergone extensive construction work to update the structure radically. The result is a truly state-of-the-art, more modern and bigger stadium. The new fixed and retractable roofs are among the highlights, with the retractable one able to be opened or closed in 15 minutes. There is also a 360-degree video scoreboard and 3,000 more seats where 12 metres in height were added.

The exterior of the stadium has been covered with a stainless-steel wrap, capable of projecting images and lighting effects. Inside, the pitch of the new Santiago Bernabeu is retractable, so that it can be removed and protected when other events are taking place. The grass is stored in a 30-metre-deep underground space that functions as a greenhouse, helping keep the grass in optimal condition.

In addition, the ground has two new towers, large pedestrian areas, a 360 square metre terrace with views of the pitch and the city, a VIP area with restaurants, and galleries with shops and establishments. At the same time, the museum has been extended and a new interactive museum space has been added. In addition to being a football stadium, the renovated Santiago Bernabeu will help Real Madrid to make extra revenue, as the club has been working for some time on organising other large-scale activities 365 days a year.

Among the most notable events already announced are the concerts that the international superstars Taylor Swift and Karol G will hold in this stadium in May and July respectively. In addition, Real Madrid recently confirmed that the Santiago Bernabéu will host a National Football League (NFL) game in 2025. With all these major changes and developments, the Santiago Bernabeu promises to become a benchmark for other sports venues internationally.

 

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