Santiago Bernabeu – The Home Of Los Blancos

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Spain’s second-largest stadium, the third-biggest in Europe and the home of Real Madrid: ‘The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu’.The Santiago Bernabeu is, consequently, one of the most famous stadiums in the world. It has hosted the final of the European Cup five times and has also been used for matches in the European Nations’ Cup and the 1982 FIFA World Cup. In short, if Real Madrid are footballing royalty then the Bernabeu is a palace.

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Construction Of Santiago Bernabeu

Construction of the stadium
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Commissioned to be built in 1944, it was up eventually completed in 1947 costing over 1.5 million Euros with a capacity of 75,145. Originally named the ‘Nuevo Estadio Chamartin’—after the area of Spain’s capital city where it was built.But after the first major renovation in 1955 it got it’s present name after the club president, Santiago Bernabeu who secured the land and financial back up for the stadium.

The first major renovation occurred in 1955. On 19 June of that year, the stadium expanded to accommodate 125,000 spectators.

The renovation of the stadium was untouched untill and before 1982 fifa world cup when Spain hosted the Fifa World Cup for the first time.The stadium’s capacity was reduced from 120,000 to 98,000 spectators.The stadium hosted four matches in the World Cup.

santiago bernabeu
Proposed future look of Santiago Bernabeu
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Rise Of Santiago Bernabeu

During the new millennium Florentino Perez took over as President of the club and began his reign by promising a ‘master plan’ of improving the ground and the quality of the facilities therein. €127 million was invested over five years resulting in the ground being made a UEFA Elite Stadium officially in 2007. The most recent change came in 2011 when the capacity was increased ever so slightly to 81,044 which is till now its total capacity according to Real Madrid’s official website.

Florentino Perez in the Santiago Bernabeu trophy room
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With his huge fan base the stadium accommodates at an average of 65,653 audiences (2017-18 LaLiga).Highest attendance (128000) recorded in 1974 in a champions league match between Real Madrid and Croatian club Dynamo Zagreb.

But the spectacularness of any stadium can be felt during any historic match when fans are cheering for their club or country and Santiago Bernabeu is not exempted from this.Over the many years this stadium has been graced by some historical matches.

Santiago Bernabeu players’ changing room
Image Source : Real Madrid CF

Matches At Santiago Bernabeu

The very first match after the inauguration of the stadium on December 14 in 1947,was played between the home side and Portuguese side OS Beleneses. The home side started their journey at their new home ground with a flying 3-1 victory over the Portuguese side with Sabino Barinaga becoming the first ever goal scorer at the ground.

Sabino Barinaga – The first scorer at Santiago Bernabeu
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Probably the first biggest event to take place at the Santiago Bernabeu was the 1957 European Cup final when Madrid, during their run of five consecutive European successes, beat Fiorentina 2-0 after goals from Alfredo Di Stéfano and Francisco Gento in the second half. This was the second consecutive European Cup for Real Madrid after having won his first trophy one year before.

The 1957 European Cup winning Real Madrid team
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Not only Real Madrid fan the whole Spain takes pride on Santiago Bernabeu. Up until 2008, Spain fans thought may be their only international success — the 1964 European Championships final. In front of 100,000 fans packed inside the Bernabeu, La Roja maneuvered their way to a 2-1 win over Russia to be crowned as Europe’s best.

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Memorable El Clasicos At Santiago Bernabeu

But nothing can be better for a Madridista witnessing a win in an El Clasico in Santiago Bernabeu and on several occasions this stadium gifted its fan with this joy.

This match will go down for having the most decorated players of this generation to get on the score sheet. On 10th April 2005 Real Madrid destroyed the Blaugrana 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo and Michael Owen scored for Madrid, whereas Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o netted for Barca. It was a delightful display of pure, attacking Spanish football, with countless chances on both ends throughout the 90 minutes. The delighted Madrid fans screamed ‘Ole!’’ with every pass their heroes completed.

Real Madrid after winning an El Clasico match at Santiago Bernabeu
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However Real Madrid is not always lucky in their home ground.Same year on 19th November the Brazilian magician Ronaldinho scored a brace at the Santiago Bernabeu, resulting a 3-0 victory over Real Madrid but that speaks only half the story. Throughout the entire match, King Ronnie tormented the Madrid defense with his magical skills and flicks. He skipped past three Madrid players before slotting home past Iker Casillas, when the whole Santiago Bernabeu got up to its feet to applaud a legendary player who comes only once in a lifetime.The whole world praised Bernabeu’s gesture.

Ronaldinho destroying Real Madrid’s defence at Santiago Bernabeu
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Famous Players Of Santiago Bernabeu

Real Madrid and Santiago Bernabeu wouldn’t be this famous if it wasnt for the heroes who graced the club with their presence and their football. From Alfredo Di Stefano—who scored four at the Bernabeu on his debut against Barcelona—and Ferenc Puskas right through to Emiliano Butragueno and into the Galactico era which has featured Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Iker Casillas, Raul, Luis Figo, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Original Galacticos of Real Madrid – (from left) Raymond Kopa, Hector Rial, Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento
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Galacticos of Real Madrid of 20th century
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There are a full generations of young footballer whose only dream is to play for Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeu and we can see this is not for pity reasons.Nicolas Anelka,former Real Madrid player shared his thoughts about Bernabeu and it goes like –

“I’ve been fortunate enough to take the field at any number of stadiums, but the Bernabeu really takes your breath away. You can feel the history and the weight of the fans’ expectations on your shoulders. When the crowd turns on you, it makes you want to get out of there as fast as you can. Those fans have seen it all and have every right to make their feelings known.”

Cristiano Ronaldo – The greatest goalscorer of Real Madrid
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