Chelsea take on Real Madrid this evening in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Zinedine Zidane’s giants, but Thomas Tuchel’s team will not be heading to Real’s usual home stadium in the Spanish capital.
The Blues have played their last two Champions League matches in Spain, with both legs of their quarter-final win over Porto being held in Seville and they returned to Spain yesterday to prepare for the clash against Real Madrid
However, the first leg of the semi-final will be played at the Real’s 6,000-seater Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano arena at their training ground.
The arena is part of the Ciudad Real Madrid, which means Real Madrid city, at their base just outside the capital in Valdebebas. It was usually used by the club’s Castilla, or youth, teams before the first team moved in.
With matches continuing to be played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, the smaller arena has been home to the first team for nearly a year now.
Real’s gargantuan and iconic home the Santiago Bernabeu is currently undergoing an extensive remodeling project which was projected to have been finished in 2022 in time for the start of the 2022/23 season.
However, the three-month halt to La Liga last season when coronavirus struck saw Madrid accelerate those plans, meaning that it could well finish before the scheduled time.
Real have been playing matches at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano ground since La Liga’s own Project Restart in June 2020 and will continue to do so until the work at “El Nuevo Bernabeu” is completed.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appeared to fire a shot at Madrid’s temporary home when the Reds were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League quarter-final in Valdebebas last month
“It must be a really tricky task for Real Madrid at Anfield,” Klopp said after the defeat.
“This was strange tonight because it was really difficult with the stadium (at Madrid’s training ground) but Anfield is at least a proper stadium and it will be good for us.”
Real would go on to secure a 0-0 draw at Anfield to secure their spot in the semi-final against Chelsea, unlike in the previous round Chelsea will have home advantage for the second leg when Real visit Stamford Bridge on May 5.
Klopp apologised for his remarks after the draw at Anfield, adding: “People have made so much noise about that thing. I didn’t want to be disrespectful.