Chelsea travel to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday night for their biggest game since last season’s FA Cup final – but the fixture will not be played at the palatial Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos have been permitted to host their domestic and European home games away from their 81,000-seater base this season.
Instead, they have been playing at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, which has a capacity of 6,000 and is normally the headquarters of the reserves – Real Madrid Castilla.
This decision was made to allow a stunning £500million redevelopment of the Bernabeu which includes the fitting of a retractable roof.
The project began in 2019 and will also introduce a 360-degree screen, new restaurants, a shopping centre and a hotel – with some rooms having a view of the pitch – while the capacity will remain the same.
The redeveloped Bernabeu will be a state-of-the-art jewel in the heart of the Spanish capital, although the same cannot be said of their current abode.
The humble Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano is hardly a venue befitting a Champions League semi-final, but this may give Real Madrid the edge over their opposition.
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In the previous round, Jurgen Klopp seemed to imply Liverpool struggled to adapt to their modest surroundings as they suffered a 3-1 defeat in Madrid.
“This here tonight was really strange because it was a difficult situation in the stadium,” said Klopp.
The Reds boss then declared “Anfield is at least a proper stadium” in what some onlookers took as a dig at Real Madrid.
“It’s disparaging to a big club like Madrid,” said Koeman of Klopp’s remarks. “They’ve chosen the time to do renovation works at their stadium and they’ve chosen well.”
Real Madrid will hope for more success at their temporary ground against Chelsea, while the Blues must adapt to their conditions better than Liverpool did to ensure a positive result in the first leg.
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