Madrid Football Clubs and Stadiums

Madrid Stadiums From Above
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu Left & Wanda Metropolitano Right

Madrid is one of the most exciting and vivacious cities to visit in all of Spain. Alongside Barcelona, it’s one of the places that the majority of people visiting the country feel like they should go and see. The country’s capital is also its largest municipality, boasting more than three million residents. It is third behind only London and Berlin as one of the largest cities in all of the European Union, having a number of exciting tourist attractions to its name. From the Royal Palace of Madrid through to the Royal Theatre, via the National Library and the Reina Sofía Museum. Little surprise, then, that it also boasts two top-class football clubs.

It’s funny how those that do not like the sport look down on football, yet most of the cities with the best culture across the world also have successful football clubs. You can look to Madrid and The Beatles, London and Shakespeare’s Globe or Paris and the birth of fashion to see places that have so much to offer and football clubs to go alongside the culture that they’re so well known for. Madrid is no exception, with the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula having not one but two teams with excellent stadiums worth speaking about. Here’s a look at both of them:

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Football Stadiums in Madrid

Stadium Capacity Team League
Santiago Bernabéu 81,044 Real Madrid La Liga
Vicente Calderón 54,907 CLOSED
Wanda Metropolitano 67,703 Atletico Madrid La Liga

Real Madrid - Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (2.79 Miles to Royal Palace)

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
By Chris Brown from Madrid, España. (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Real Madrid Club de Fútbol is the most successful club in Spain and, arguably, one of the most successful club sides in the world. Having racked up five European Cup wins in a row in the 1950s, reaching an additional two European Cup finals during that time, whilst in the 2016-2017 season they made history by winning a record twelfth European Cup under the new branding of the Champions League. It’s entirely fair, therefore, to call Real Madrid European loyalty. The vast majority of the club’s success has come whilst they’ve been playing their games at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, though they didn’t play there when they were first formed.

The club came into existence as Madrid Football Club in March of 1902, not gaining the Royal benediction to allowing them to become Real Madrid until King Alfonso XIII bestowed it upon them in 1920. The played at numerous stadiums around Madrid until they moved into Campo de O’Donnell in 1912 and remained there for eleven years. They won their first Spanish title playing their football in the Estadio Chamartín, which they moved into in 1923. In 1943 the President of the club decided that the Estadio Chamartín did not match the club’s ambitions, so he came up with a proposal to move to a new ground. His name was Santiago Bernabéu and the football ground that he envisioned opened its doors in 1947 and has been the club’s home ever since.

You might have noticed a distinct lack of chat about Atlético Madrid in this piece so far. That’s predominantly because it’s impossible to discuss the rivalry between the two sides without also getting lost in the weeds of Spanish politics a little bit. After all, for a time Atlético fans would regularly chant that Real Madrid were ‘el equipo del gobierno, la vergüenza del país’. Translated that means, ‘the team of the government, the shame of the country’. That wasn’t always the case. In the early days it was Atlético Madrid that was seen as the preferred club of the Franco regime, only for the Spanish dictator to change his allegiance to Real after they won their first European Cup in the 1950s, seeing it as an ideal opportunity for some political hay-making.

However you look at the political machinations in Spain and how they developed over the years, when it comes to the football there is no question that Real Madrid are the dominant football team in the Spanish capital. More than thirty La Ligas, a record number of European Cups, ten Supercopa de España and nearly double the number of Copa del Rey trophies attest to that fact. Real have also won more than double the number of derby games against Atlético than their rivals have managed, with two of those wins coming in the final of the Champions League in recent years. However painful it must be to lose in the final of the premier club competition in football, it must be doubly as difficult to lose to the side that you share a city with. The 2013-2014 final resulted in a spanking for Real, who ran out 4-1 winners, whilst in the 2015-2016 final it went to penalties and Real won again.

Atlético Madrid - Wanda Metropolitano (6.17 Miles to  Royal Palace)

Wanda Metropolitano
By Fabian Vidal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Atlético might well have spent their entire existence living in Real Madrid’s shadow, but that’s hardly something to be ashamed of when you consider that Los Blancos are one of the most successful football clubs of all time. Formed in 1903 by a trio of Basque students living in the city, the club went on to become Spain’s third most successful side behind their neighbours and Barcelona. The politics of Spain was mentioned before and it’s worth mentioning it again now. Real Madrid might have been the favoured team of General Franco and his regime, but Atlético has long enjoyed a reputation as being the left-wing club of the Spanish capital. The club was founded by students but it didn’t take long for dissident supporters of Real Madrid to move over and bolster their numbers.

Initially the club played its games at the Ronda de Vallecas, moving to the Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid in 1923 and then on again to the Vicente Calderónn in 1966 as it was able to house more supporters. This was where supporters saw the cub win the majority of its trophies, with the Wanda Metropolitano not becoming their ground until 2017. Despite the dominance of the likes of Real and Barca in Spain and Real, Barca, Bayern, Liverpool and others in Europe, it’s not as though Atlético picked up zero competition wins over the years. They’ve won La Liga ten times, perhaps most notably in 2013-2014 when they did so against all expectations. They’d picked up the same number of Copa del Rey’s when they moved into the Wanda Metropolitano and though they hadn’t won the European Cup at that stage they had picked up two Europa League trophies.

When it comes to El Derbi madrileño, sparks can often fly. Atlético has long been the choice for the working class people of Madrid, thanks in no small part to the greater resources that have often been afforded to their neighbours. Remarkably, when you consider that both teams were founded in the early part of the 1900s, they didn’t meet for the first time until 1928. That was a Copa del Rey tie that Real won 1-0, though in the end it was Barcelona that picked up the trophy anyway. In terms of large victories, neither side quite has the edge on the other. Both of the teams boast a largest victory of 5-0, with Atlético managing that once in the 1947-1948 season and Real doing it twice. Their first 5-0 win came in the 1958-1959 La Liga campaign, whilst their second was in the 1983-1984 season.

You might think that a 5-0 win would prove one team’s strength, but in actual fact neither side actually won La Liga in the year that they beat their rivals by such a large scoreline. In both 1948 and 1958 it was Barcelona that won the title, whilst in 1984 it was Athletic Bilbao that won the trophy. For most people the city of Madrid will always be associated with Real when it comes to football, especially when you consider that the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is one of the top tourist attractions in the Spanish capital. Atlético should never be forgotten, however, even if they are something of the ‘hipsters choice’ when it comes to a team to support. As with Manchester United in England, Paris Saint Germain in France and Bayern Munich in Germany, Real have always had more resources then other teams and the support of a friendly press. When you think of Madrid in the future, then, remember Atlético deserve a shout too.

Rayo Vallecano - Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas (3.45 miles to Palace)

Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas
Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas : By Jesusvk97 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Real and Atlético are very much the two biggest sides in the Spanish capital, but if you’re writing an article about cities with more than one football club within their boundaries then it would be wrong not to give a mention to two of the smaller ones that call Madrid their home. The first is the lower league side of Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, playing their football at the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, which is less than three and a half miles from the Royal Palace of Madrid. Opened in 1976, the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas can house just over fourteen and a half thousand supporters. It doesn’t boast many claims to fame, though it was the home of the 1940 Copa del Generalísimo Final, which was how the Copa del Rey was known during Franco’s time.

In terms of rivalries between Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and either of the big teams that play their games in the city, there really isn’t one. Vallecano have long been one of the most stereotypical ‘yoyo’ teams in football, bouncing between Spanish football’s top-tier and the second division. They’ve never won a trophy of note, with the club’s most successful season coming in 2000-2001 when they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. They lost to fellow Spanish side Alavés, who would go on to make it all the way to the final only to lose to Liverpool in the Merseyside club’s treble-winning season. As an interesting aside, Rayo Vallecano de Madrid bought the North American Soccer League club Oklahoma City FC in 2015. Instead of being in an article about a city with multiple clubs, therefore, they could have appeared in one about a club with multiple cities.

Getafe Club de Fútbol - Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (6.37 Miles to Palace)

Coliseum Alfonso Pérez
Coliseum Alfonso Pérez: By Heradiom (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a valid conversation to be had around whether or not Getafe Club de Fútbol actually class as a club from Madrid, especially as Getafe is actually a city in its own right. However the city can be found in the South of the Madrid metropolitan area and is home to the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. It’s also worth noting that the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez is about the same sort of distance from The Royal Palace of Madrid as Atlético’s new ground, so in terms of distance as the crow flies alone the club probably deserves a quick mention. The Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, if you hadn’t guessed, is Getafe Club de Fútbol’s home stadium and can house just shy of seventeen ands a half thousand people. It opened in 1998 as a replacement for Estadio Juan de la Cierva, but the club only played there for a year after the demolition of Estadio Municipal de Las Margaritas.

As for Getafe, the club was founded officially in 1946, though there was a team in the city named Getafe Football Club from 1924 but that isn’t technically tied to the team that was formed twelve years later. This new side was named Club Getafe Deportivo. As if that isn’t complicated enough, this new side was automatically relegated and then liquidated at the end of the 1981-1982 season for failing to pay its players. Six years earlier a club named Peña Madridista Getafe, which translates as ‘The Real Madrid supporter's club of Getafe’, has been formed. That side merged with Club Getafe Promesas in 1982 and then the clubs all combined to form Getafe Club de Fútbol. The fact that part of the new club was made up of what was basically a Real Madrid supporters club should tell you everything you need to know about how the side fits into the rivalry of the city of Madrid. Not good enough to trouble either of the big sides, they’re never really thought of when it comes to El Derbi madrileño.