Real Madrid have not played at their iconic home stadium since Europe went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic over a year ago
Chelsea will head to Real Madrid on April 27 to play the first leg of their Champions League semi final against Zinedine Zidane’s giants but the Blues players will not be heading to Real’s usual home stadium.
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 their next trip abroad in the competition will also be to Spain.
However, the first leg of the semi final versus Real Madrid will be played at the club’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.
The smaller arena is irrelevant at this point in time anyway with matches continuing to be played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has been the case across Europe for the past 12 months.
Real’s gargantuan and iconic home of the Santiago Bernabeu is currently undergoing an extensive remodelling project which was projected to have been finished in 2022 in time for the start of the 22/23 season.
However, the three-month half 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 since La Liga’s own Project Restart in June 2020 and will continue to do so for at least the next season, if not longer, depending on when 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 finals in Valdebebas a week ago.
“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 on Wednesday night that secured their spot in the semi final against Chelsea, with the first leg being played in Madrid on April 27 and the return leg at 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.
“If they think that [Di Stefano] is the stadium they want to play at, that’s completely fine for me.
“They play there the whole season. I know the situation and that they are renovating [the Santiago Bernabeu] or I don’t know what exactly they do.
“That’s all fine. But making a story out of what I said is a real joke to be honest. If somebody thought I was disrespectful, I am sorry. That was not my intention.”