The night before the 9th of February 2019 was my most nervous but excited night in a long time. This was because in the next day, I would be attending my first ever Madrid derby between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Another bonus which made this very exciting, was that I was attending the Madrid derby with 3 close friends from my course (1st year of Sports Journalism) at the University of Gloucestershire. I could guarantee that Hannah, Josh, Billy and I were as excited as each other, but there was a catch…
We were all traveling to Madrid, but without a member of staff. So the 4 of us would be students in a foreign country on our own. However we all worked together and helped each other out when we arrived in Madrid. And thanks to Billy with his expert knowledge and planning of the Spanish Metro underground system, we knew what routes to catch in order to drop our bags off at the Generator Hostel in Madrid, and then make our way to the Wanda Metropolitano via the Spanish Metro.
Surprisingly we arrived at the Wanda Metropolitano with at least one and a half- two hours spare. This allowed us to explore the surroundings of the stadium.
However, there was not alot to do around the stadium. To be honest, the Stadium was in the middle of nowhere to my surprise. Therefore, this made it difficult for us to find any places to get lunch before the game.
With all that in mind, we strolled around the stadium looking at market stalls selling both Atletico and Real merchandise. Amazingly, as we were walking past one market stall, a few scarfs caught the attention of Hannah and I. This was because on two particular scarfs, there were two iconic faces to English football that attracted us to the stall. Fernando Torres most known for his successful time at Liverpool attracted the eyes of Hannah, and Diego Costa most known for his successful time at Chelsea attracted the eyes of me.
We instantly enquired about the prices of both scarfs, and after hearing that they were selling the two scarfs for a reasonable price, Hannah and I decided to buy a scarf each. We were both delighted that we had Atletico scarfs with players that were well known to a Chelsea fan in me, and a Liverpool fan in Hannah.
After buying scarfs, we walked up to our gate and queued up, waiting for the gates to open. In that time we were treated to some pre match entertainment;
At around 2:45pm (Madrid time- 1:45pm UK time), the gates opened, and we were at the front of the quee, therefore we got into the stadium fairly quickly after going through security.
After climbing many stairs we arrived at our stand, and this was my photographic reaction to first seeing the Wanda Metropolitano pitch for the first time in my life;
As we sat down, and soaked up the atmosphere which was building minute by minute, the first notable event which caught my eye was when Thibaut Courtois entered the pitch to start his warm up. The reaction from the Atletico fans were simply astonishing…
What wasn’t shown in the video was the Atletico fans throwing toy rats at Courtois! There is so much hate from the Atletico fans to the Real Goalkeeper, due to the fact that the Belgian use to play at Atletico, and the fact that he transferred from Chelsea to their local rivals in the summer, was seen as a betrayal.
As the clock ticked towards 4:15pm (Madrid time), my anticipation grew alongside the atmosphere in the ground!
Into the game now, and both teams started nervously until the 16th minute when a Real Madrid corner led to the first goal of the game through Casemiro.
Atletico grew into the first half, and equalised in the 25th minute, when Griezmann slotted through Courtois’ legs to level the game at 1-1.
However Real took the lead before half-time after Vinicius Junior drew a penalty in the 41st minute, which Ramos just about converted in the 42nd minute to give Real Madrid a 1-2 lead at half-time.
Into the second half of this game, and nothing seemed to go Atletico’s way, with Morata scoring a goal midway through the second half, which was ruled out after a VAR check for offside!
Things got worse for Atletico as the second half went on, as Bale came off the bench and killed off the game in the 74th minute to make it 1-3 to Real Madrid.
However, there was alot of controversy in Bale’s celebration, and this has led to recent news coming out that he is facing a 12 match suspension for his celebration!
Things got worse for Atletico in the 80th minute, when Partey received a second yellow card for a challenge on Toni Kroos.
The game ended 1-3 to Real Madrid, which meant that the Los Blancos moved up to second place in the table, and this game established the fact that they were going to be the closest challengers to Barcelona in first place.
This Madrid derby also established the fact that Real Madrid are on the way back under Santiago Solari.
Here are the full highlights of this Madrid derby for anyone interested (you may need to click on the link that says watch on youtube in order to watch the highlights from this match).
For shorter highlights;
So as the game ended, it was time to say goodbye to the Wanda Metropolitano… but only for one night as we were going to return for a stadium tour the next day!
Onto the next day now (10th February), and after a lovely morning exploring the Parque de Retiro in Madrid, I was a little apprehensive to go on the stadium tour of Atletico Madrid due to the fact that Chelsea were playing Manchester City. However after watching the first half an hour of the match, I couldn’t wait to get out and start the stadium tour as Chelsea were 4-0 down at the time!
So when we arrived at the Metropolitano, I put the Chelsea result to the back of my mind (6-0 loss), and looked forward to exploring this massive new stadium.
When we arrived, we were surprised by the fact that the we had no one showing us around for the tour! It was a self walking tour around the stadium. The best thing about the tour was seeing the beauty of the stadium at night, especially the Atletico pitch.
Seeing all the new facilities at the stadium was amazing, but what caught my eyes about the Wanda Metropolitano was the size of the press room. It was bigger than my main lecture theatre!
But overall the Wanda Metropolitano was a wonderful stadium. It gave me vibes of Wembley. However what let it down for me was the lack of history at the stadium due to it being brand new. This is something that the
Vicente Calderón Stadium would have provided if it was still Atletico’s stadium.
With all that in mind, It was still a great stadium to visit on two occasions. Here are some of my pictures from the stadium;
On the Monday we didn’t go and visit a stadium, however we visited a Journalist who is famous in Spain for covering all the big matches in La Liga. Sid Lowe is a famous English Speaking Journalist who covers La Liga for the Guardian.
We had a lovely talk with him about his career, and I found it very interesting how he got into his job, through a PhD in Political History! He also spoke about the differences between Newspaper agendas in England and Spain.
The next day was our last day in Madrid. However we still had something special lined up… A trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to do a stadium tour of this historical ground.
When we arrived at the stadium, I was amazed by the historical look of this wonderful ground. The main difference between the Bernabeu and Wanda was the historical outlook. Real Madrid had a massive museum which was open to the public, however it still remains to be seen whether Atletico have a museum at the Wanda, as it wasn’t part of the stadium tour…
Here are some of my pics from the Bernabeu;
As we finished the Bernabeu tour, I realised that the trip was coming to an unfortunate end…
I would just like to say thank you to all the team at the University of Gloucestershire for making this possible. It was amazing to visit two historic clubs in a spectacular city like Madrid. I would also like to say thank you to all my Sports Journalism mates who I experienced the trip with. It wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t shared this experience with all my friends on the course.
I have now been to 3 parts of Spain (Madrid, Malaga and Seville) and I must say Spain is a lovely country for its culture and obviously its football pedigree.
I look forward to next year’s trip with the Sports Journalism team, and I can’t wait to visit more football stadiums and to learn more about different cultures.
Early indications are that the trip could be to Germany, which would be amazing as that’s a country that I have never visited before.
Also Germany is home to the Bundesliga, so if we were able to watch a Bundesliga match then that would be fantastic. Plus Football is relatively cheap in Germany compared to many European Countries….
I certainly can’t wait to find out where exactly the trip for next year will be. We will soon find out…
By Danyal Khan