Atletico Madrid will play against Malaga in their first match at their $370 million new home, Wanda Metropolitano, on Saturday. The club have been forced to play their first four games of the season away as the finishing touches were made to the 68,000-capacity venue, nearly 20 kilometres north-east from their old Vicente Calderon stadium. Work will continue outside the ground for much of the rest of the season with access roads still to be completed, forcing Atletico to launch a marketing campaign this week encouraging as many fans as possible to access the remote location close to the city’s airport by public transport.
“The people at the club are worried that the atmosphere is good and that everything goes perfectly, but perfection doesn’t exist,” said Diego Simeone, after showing his commitment to Atletico’s future by extending his contract to 2020.
“It will take months for everything to take shape. When you build a house, there are problems with the bathroom, or the air conditioning, or the heating, you need a plumber or you have an argument with the architect.
“In a stadium of this size, of course we’ll have those issues, but above all outside the ground.” Inside it is a different story with an immaculate pitch laid last week the final touch. The stands hug the touchline on all four sides of the ground, much to Simeone’s delight, despite the initial construction on the stadium being done with an eye to Madrid’s failed bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
“The stadium, the stands, the seats, it is all marvellous,” added Simeone. “Imagining the Atletico fans here and knowing them well, this will be a pressure cooker because the fans are glued to the pitch.
“It generates hope and enthusiasm and when there is hope and enthusiasm, good things always happen.”
Atletico will be hoping to open the stadium with a victory over struggling Malaga.