10 ene. 2017

Changes on the 'red half' of Madrid!

Antoinne Griezmann celebrating after
yet another goal
On the face of it, not much seems to have changed at Athletico Madrid this season. They’re still faring well in La Liga (4th after 17 games, 5 points behind their rivals Real Madrid), they’re still in with a shout of getting their hands on the Champions League and the Copa del Rey and Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann are scoring the majority of their goals (14 goals between them in La Liga this season so far). However behind the scenes, a lot has been going on.

New Stadium

The main reason behind Athletico's decision to move home is that El Vicente Calderón lacks the possibility for expansion - it has a river and a motorway on one side and a residential area on the other. The new ground is getting built on the site of Estadio La Peineta which was originally going to be built for the Olympics. However, as Madrid failed to win both the 2020 and 2024 bids, part of the original stadium has been used for the new one. The whole project is estimated at costing the club around €200 million.

Description of Athletico’s new home

The Wanda Metropolitano
It’s being built on the up in the north-east of the city near Madrid’s airport and its closest metro will be Estadio Olímpico (Line 7 (Orange)). It will have a capacity of around 67,000 which clearly shows that the club has not tried to compete with the likes of the Camp Nou (Barcelona) or the Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid) in terms of capacity. Instead they decided to prioritize the comfort and enjoyment of their supporters by having more space in between the seats. There’s nothing worse than being at a football game and having your knees around your chest!

When will it be ready to go?

Like most massive projects, timings tend to slip. This has been no exception. The club initially stated that it would be completed at some point during 2015 but this was soon pushed back to 2017 due to a number of funding issues. Let’s hope we get to see the Rojiblancos run out onto their new home turf this year!

Thinking behind its name

The new stadium has been named the Wanda Metropolitano. Let’s look at the reasons behind this: firstly, its first name ‘Wanda’ has been named so for commercial reasons. Commercialization is something that football and football fans are going to have to get used to: think about The Etihad (Manchester City), The Emirates Stadium (Arsenal). It’s happening all around us and we can’t stop it. The second half of the name comes from the stadium that Athletico called home until 1966 – El Estado Metropolitano de Madrid. We will discuss the reaction to this change later on in the article.

New badge design

The old and new badges
Those powerful people at the top of the Athletico Madrid pyramid clearly see the migration to a new stadium as a new era for the club and have also decided to slightly modify the badge. In the grand scheme of things, the modifications are not drastic. The corners at the top have been rounded off whilst ‘el Oso y el Madroño’ are now completely blue. The designers of the badge, Vasava, have said that the new design with its rounder edges seeks to ‘represent the club’s traditional values while also looking to the future.’ Athletico’s captain, Gabi likes the look of the new badge saying that ‘it’s true to our history.’ The badge will come into use for the 2017/18 season.

Reaction to the changes

As always, changes as significant as these are not welcomed by all. With regard to the Wanda Metropolitano, the name itself seems to have irritated a number of loyal supporters. This is mainly down to its first name, ‘Wanda’. It’s a commercial name and to many fans, the Metropolitano part has been added simply to appease them. Although it sounds like a good idea to add this little bit of history into the name, it perhaps would have been better to use a name like ‘Calderón’ in order to appeal to the modern fan. In terms of the crest, it has also been met by mixed reviews. This was inevitable especially as it comes at the same time as the change of stadium and fans all over the world like stability. This unwillingness to accept significant changes to two of the most important aspects of the club’s identity is totally understandable! Head down to your local bar this week and practise your Spanish opinions by discussing these massive changes with the fans themselves!

Next match

As mentioned above, Athletico are sitting 4th in La Liga after victory against SD Eibar on Saturday. They would have perhaps preferred to be a little higher in the table at this stage in the season given the quality running through their squad however there is still a long way to go. Their next game is this Saturday against Real Betis, a game which they’ll be hoping to win in order to close in on their high-flying neighbors, Real Madrid.

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