Stadiums are more than just the place where sports games take place: they are the intersection between fans and their favorite teams or players. It’s the place where everything happens.
Unforgettable goals, saves, and tackles occur in venues crowded by thousands of people, flags, scarves, and so many other things that give the beautiful game an amazing atmosphere. Here, let’s take a look at the fifteen best soccer stadiums on the planet.
When it comes to great atmospheres, Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park is without any doubt one of the best stadiums in Germany. A sea of black and yellow flags and jerseys overwhelms the opponents, while it creates a beautiful scene that captivates the fans’ eyes. In the South Stand, the largest terrace in Europe with a capacity of nearly 25,000 stood spectators, is where Dortmund fans form “The Yellow Wall.”
One of the most emblematic football stadiums in the world, the Estadio Azteca is the biggest venue in Mexico—it used to have a capacity of over 100,000 spectators before a reduction in 2016. This is such a special stadium that Argentine singer Andres Calamaro wrote a song about it, explaining how impactful was his first visit to the Azteca.
Besides, this stadium has witnessed some iconic moments in sports history. It was at the Azteca where Diego Maradona wrote history in 1986, scoring the infamous “Hand of God” goal as well as the “Goal of the Century” in the quarterfinal against England. Later, he lifted the trophy for Argentina in that same venue. 16 years earlier, the Azteca had already seen another all-time great win the FIFA World Cup trophy when Pelé achieved his third and final title with Brazil.
For decades, Tottenham played their home games at the White Hart Lane. However, the increasingly popular Premier League and the expansion of the club’s brand demanded a larger stadium, thus making way for the revamped, modern Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. This venue is an architectural marvel, and it also boasts a retractable pitch that can be replaced by an artificial field for NFL games.
Described as the most intimidating stadium by many players who had to face Liverpool, Anfield defies the toll time usually takes on historic stadiums. Though the club has expansion plans for the Kop stand, this arena has kept its soul for more than a century. It paid off, since it continues to terrify opponents while the “You’ll Never Walk Alone” anthem sounds loud.
Though it was built way before the 2010 World Cup, it was in the showpiece event that the world got to know Johannesburg’s Soccer City. Its colorful exterior charmed the fans and the noisy impact of the vuvuzelas also made this stadium an icon of the tournament.
Just like Tottenham, Atlético de Madrid also opted for renovation and left the historic Vicente Calderón for the modern, impactful Wanda Metropolitano—Civitas Metropolitano for sponsorship reasons. This stadium helped increase Atleti’s reputation in Europe, and its design allows fans to have a great view of the field from any seat.
Old Trafford resists the modernization that took away some of England’s most emblematic stadiums. While many feel the stadium needs renovations and better maintenance, the home of Manchester United continues to keep its essence as the “Theatre of Dreams.” It is a compact but gigantic stadium that became iconic in world soccer.
The little gap between the field and stands allows fans to experience an amazing environment, but the Allianz Arena is mostly attractive due to its beautiful, color changing exterior with the innovative ETFE plastic panels.
El Monumental is the biggest stadium in Argentina, and one of the largest in South America. Home to local giants River Plate as well as the Argentina national football team, this stadium saw the country win the World Cup for the first time in 1978. The presence of a running track used to kill the atmosphere, but since it was replaced with seats, this could no longer be a problem.
The Estadio Alberto J. Armando, popularly known as La Bombonera, may have one of the strangest structures in all sports. However, its unconventional design is what makes this such a special stadium.
Similar to a chocolate box—hence the famous nickname, La Bombonera has a smaller vertical stand surrounded by three bigger and deeper stands very close to the field. This, along with the fact that it’s home to Boca Juniors, the most popular football club in Argentina, explains its frenetic atmosphere.
Home to a Spanish powerhouse, the Camp Nou—now Spotify Camp Nou due to sponsorship purposes—is a beauty to behold and also an imposing building for those who take the field. A magical place that saw the likes of Lionel Messi, among others, FC Barcelona’s stadium is the largest in Europe. Back in the day, this stadium even reached the 120,000 capacity for the 1982 World Cup.
The second-largest football stadium in Spain, it’s safe to say the Santiago Bernabeu is a key ingredient to the aura Real Madrid carry in world soccer. This compact but big stadium has become a fortress for the Merengues, especially in the UEFA Champions League nights.
Stadio San Siro is one of the few stadiums that transcends sports, as it’s also an icon of the city of Milan. Home to both giants in town, AC Milan and Inter, we’re talking about the largest football stadium in Italy. Europe may have nicer, tidier football stadiums, but not as stunning as this one.
In a country that lives and breathes soccer, it isn’t a surprise to find one of the most iconic stadiums on Earth. The Maracanã hosted two World Cup finals, including the historic 1950 game in which Uruguay upset the host nation in front of nearly 200,000 people. Eventually, the terraces had to be replaced by seats, which reduced the stadium’s capacity. But replacing the two-tier design by a one-tier seating bowl helped to maintain and improve the atmosphere, which is the soul of the Maracanã.
Wembley Stadium is not only the biggest and most important stadium in England, it is also “The home of football.” Replacing the old Wembley—demolished in 2000 after 77 years of existence—this venue is located on the same site as its predecessor, keeping much of its essence, but with a modern design and larger seating capacity.
The new Wembley boasts a partially retractable roof, supported by an iconic arch, and apart from hosting the national team games and domestic cup finals, it has already been home to major events such as two Champions League finals, an Olympic soccer final, as well as the Euro 2020 final.
Soccer stadiums can be found in every corner of the world, but not many get to win worldwide recognition as one of the best of all. The 15 stadiums we’ve seen in this article, however, made a strong case to be on the list.
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