“This stadium is tremendous.”
That’s what Diego Simeone said after Atlético Madrid’s epic last-minute victory over Athletic Club and he spoke the truth. Just over a year — or 420 days, to be precise — had passed since Estadio Wanda Metropolitano was christened with a 1-0 victory over Málaga on September 16, 2017. And it feels like home already.
Two trophies — the UEFA Europa League and the Super Cup — have already been shown off to the fans at the stadium since it was opened (in addition to the World Cup) and there were some special and momentous nights along the way, not least with the semifinal victory over Arsenal.
To put it simply, results have been good. This season, los colchoneros have played eight matches at home across all competitions and they have won seven of them. The only time they failed to take the three points was when they hosted Eibar and drew 1-1 — but it’s worth remembering that match featured eight Atlético shots on target — their second highest total in this regard all season. Teenager Borja Garcés had to score a last second goal to secure the draw, but as far as disappointing afternoons go that one wasn’t the worst.
Looking further back, Atlético home record since moving to the Wanda Metropolitano is quite strong. They’ve played 37, won 26, drawn eight and have lost just three — against Chelsea in the Champions League, Sevilla in the Copa del Rey and Espanyol in the league. Even though some matches were knockout games in cup competition, if we award three points for a win, one for a draw and none for a defeat, this works out at 2.32 points per game.
For comparison’s sake, in the final 37 matches played at Estadio Vicente Calderón, Atleti took an average of 2.38 points per game, based on a record of 28 victories, four draws and five defeats.
So Atleti’s record at the Wanda Metropolitano is almost identical to their record from the final days of the Vicente Calderón. In a sporting sense, the move hasn’t had much of a negative impact at all.
Of course, for rojiblanco fans there was always more to going down to the Manzanares River to watch a match than the final score. It was the pre-match atmosphere in the restaurants and cafés around the ground on Paseo de los Melancólicos. It was a beer in the El Doblete bar. It was the rustic old seats. It was getting wet when it rained. It was tradition.
The Wanda Metropolitano doesn’t boast the decades of memories its predecessor did, but these memories are getting made little by little. Through results like last Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund. Through moments like Diego Godín’s last-minute winner four days later. Through experiences between family members, friends and soon-to-be-friends.
As was shown in an interview shared by Movistar+ last weekend, a 92-year-old grandmother from Burgos made the trip to the stadium for the first time on Saturday. “She told me one day that she’d like to go to a place that has become fashionable,” the daughter explained. “I asked her where is that?”
It was the Wanda Metropolitano.