More than 18 months later, Real Madrid returns to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
Madrid will host Celta de Vigo on Sunday, 560 days after their last game there. The massive renovation project of the Bernabéu has not finished, but the stadium reopens with limited capacity when the domestic tournament resumes after the FIFA date.
It will be the first match at the stadium since before March 1, 2020, before the outbreak of the pandemic, when the meringues defeated Barcelona 2-0 with Zinedine Zidane as coach.
Madrid president Florentino Pérez said: “It is exciting to say that football returns to the Santiago Bernabéu, after these sad and strange months.”
Madrid took advantage of the ban on spectators in stadiums due to the pandemic to accelerate construction work at the Bernabéu while playing their home games at the Alfredo Di Stéfano stadium, located in the club’s training complex. This season he played three straight road games to get the facility ready to receive crowds again.
Authorities are allowing clubs to fill their stadiums to 60% capacity, which would mean 50,000 people at the Bernabéu, but a few thousand are expected on Sunday. Not all seating areas will be available until the renovation is complete and Madrid has not yet said how many tickets will go on sale.
The stadium is not expected to be fully completed before the end of 2022. Construction works are visible inside and outside the stadium, which will have a retractable roof and an ultra-modern video board.
On the pitch, Madrid resumed the campaign without Kylian Mbappé despite an offer of 200 million euros (236 million dollars) to Paris Saint-Germain at the close of the transfer market, according to press reports.
But they acquired the young midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, Mbappé’s teammate on the France team.
Rival Atlético de Madrid, the defending La Liga champion, got stronger ahead of their match against the promoted Espanyol on Sunday, bringing back Antoine Griezmann on loan from Barcelona.
“Very happy, very happy. Smile from ear to ear, ”said Griezmann. “I will give everything, for the great effort they have made for me to be able to return. It is the best place for me, so that I am happy on and off the field ”.
Barcelona – already without Lionel Messi – acquired striker Luuk de Jong to help make up for Griezmann’s departure. The Catalan club also sold young Illaix Moriba to Leipzig and sent Brazilian full-back Emerson to Tottenham on loan.
The Catalans will not play this week, as their match in Seville was postponed to give the players who participated in the South American World Cup qualifiers rest time. The match between Villarreal and Alavés was also postponed. Madrid’s against Celta was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday for the same reason.
Only two games will be played on Saturday: Levante-Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Bilbao-Mallorca.