Ah… The Beautiful Game….watching a game of La Liga football on television is one thing, but actually attending a game is another thing altogether.  The impossible bright green of the pitch, the roar of the crowd….

Spanish football is played differently from English football, tiki taka is a word you might hear, it´s because Spanish football is played more slowly and it´s a more technical game.  Barcelona are the inventors of tiki taka – think of the seconds of a clock!

But, it´s still exciting to watch, and some of the stars are bigger – or think they are! – than the massive clubs that they play for…why not see for yourself? So let´s go to a game…

But where to go?

Have you already decided the team you want to support? Or is it just for the experience?  Before we lived here we visited often, and on a couple of occasions managed to catch a game or two, mainly to please our football mad son, but really for ourselves too!  Right, let´s have a look at the Top Ten Stadiums in Spain…you might have to allow me some literary license…!

 

A very Messi game…!

1. Barcelona and Camp Nou

Nº 1 because..it´s probably the best!

The largest stadium in Europe for a starting boast – with a cheering capacity from a huge 99,000 seats.

Atmosphere? Oh yes , definitely!

Come just to see the best players making history…Dani Alves, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, and Piqué – Shakira´s other half – and naturally if you are lucky enough to go then it will guarantee to be a Messi show…

Not to sleep 99,000 – but a more intimate place to stay in Barcelona can be found here…

 

 2. Real Madrid and Estadio Bernabeu

Only slightly smaller with capacity at 85,000 – our first taste of Spanish football – good to start with high expectations!  On a Winter holiday in Madrid several years ago as a family of four we queued up for tickets for our son and my husband, the team bus stopped beside us as we stamped our feet in the cold, and I glanced up to see Beckham a few feet from me and my red nose…four tickets then!

Surprisingly it´s not a fortune at all, and you get a padded cushion for your seat, a free programme and heaters right over your head! I´m not kidding, forget the Bovril and the microwaved pie, eat your delicious Chorizo or Jamón Bocadillo in comfort as you watch the players –  and one petulant kid  - play ball.

Now who´s the Petulant One?  Okay, a little game, Ramos, Casillas, Ronaldo – you guess!

There´s much more to Madrid than football, shop like Mrs Beckham and store your bags at one of these Madrid city centre places to stay…

 

Catch a game in Seville

 3. Sevilla and Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán

Absolutely up there in the top 3 and deserves the title of one of the best stadiums in Spain.

A full house seats 45,000, but this doesn´t stop it from being one of the most intimidating pitches to play on – this is the away teams least favourite place to land a fixture.  Expect to see Perrotti, Negredo, Navas.

And Seville? A stylish city in which to stay after the full time whistle – choose a Seville apartment here…

 

Teetering on the edge in Valencia

 4. Valencia and the Mestalla

Head East – Valencia and the Costa Azahar has a lot to offer for a superb holiday.  But if football rather than Paella is on your mind then ensure that you have no fear of heights as no roof and really high, teetering stands are the order of the day here.  55,000 seats to choose from, to watch Soldado score, or Albelda the captain – coming into retirement now but still astounding..

If you really must have that Paella – soon you´ll be dribbling too – try cooking it yourself in one of these Valencian places to stay…

 

Staying in Bilbao? Then choose a champion place here… Bilbao V Barca

5. Bilbao and Vizcaya – or The Cathedral

Ask where the Cathedral is and you might find yourself directed here…put down the guidebook and pick up a programme, find a seat in the cloisters of Vizcaya and enjoy a show by Los Leones.

Why the lions?  Because the stadium is built close to the church of San Mamés – and Mamés – or Mammes – was an early Christian thrown to the lions by the Romans…the only ones sacrificed and eaten these days are Real Sociedad, at the local Derby game.

Bilbao are Basque fanatics – all players in history to date have been Basque, and the atmosphere is electric, aided by the 50,000 singing fans cheering on the likes of Llorente, come and soak it up for yourself…

 

Cheering on with the Malaguenos

 6. Malaga and La Roselada

Not just for the airport! If your flight falls on a match day and you have a few hours to spare then join in with the 29,000 strong party and head to the stadium which is located close to the city.  There are great views from this one as there are no covered roof areas, and now that they are back in the Primera and the Champions League you  will be sure of a class act involving the likes of Saviola and Baptista…

A place to stay in Málaga of a Primera standard?  Why, of course…

 

Watch the game in Vallidolid

7. Valladolid and Estadio José Zorilla

Also with capacity of 29,000 this is rather a compact stadium with great view seats all round.  It has a funny local name too – dubbed the Stadium of Pneumonia as it stands high on a plain above the city of Valladolid   -maybe wear a vest under the footie shirt!

Something I don´t like about this one, their mascots are a Bear and and Eagle – unlike the UK where that would be some    chap with a Saturday job dressed up in a furry suit – these are real – a full sized Grizzly brought out at half time on a chain -not for me… :-(

 

A birds eye view of Real Betis

8.Seville and Estadio Benito Villamartin

Seville – so much to see!  How about the spectaular sight of Real Betis at the estadio Benito Villamartin?

A bit of a jigsaw look to this stadium, with three amphitheatre sides and bright green and white seats – the atmosphere is electric though.  56, 000 will fill it and the best time to go is when the Seville Derby takes place, although it can get a little heated – and I don´t just mean the Seville sunshine!  See Beñat and Ruben Castro show you how it´s done…

For more Seville heat look for a city apartment here…

 

The other Madrid side…!

 9. Madrid again – but this time the Vicente Calderon

Back in the capital city – but not as a Real supporter!!  Athletico Madrid are rivals,with Colombian players such as Perea and Falcao to cheer on…Actually an architectural delight with three curving sides and an enormous stand sandwiched between the river and the motorway, the arena is curved around the pitch.  Join 56,000 others and boo the competition!

 

Watch the sun go down at Almería

10. Almeria and the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos

Stop laughing right now!! I am under pressure here, there are season ticket holders in my house…! Humour me.

Seriously now…built for the Mediterranean games, this stadium has been much improved for this season – the former running track has been removed bringing the fans closer to the pitch – instantly more atmosphere.  Capacity is just an intimate 22,000 but the fans are great fun, it´s a family atmosphere and there´s always a good time to be had. Currently made up of experienced players and stars of the future, Almería are currently in the Segunda but soon will return to where they belong in La Liga – Ulloa was the top scorer in the whole of Segunda last year with 28 goals – more than most overpaid stars of football.  If you happen to be in Almería – the Mirror of the Sea – then come along, especially if you are a family with young kids – you will enjoy it! At only €5 for a kids ticket, so will you!

A place to stay in the beautiful city of Almería?  Choose here…

 

That´s it – the final whistle! Did I get any red cards? What´s your favourite place to watch the beautiful game?

Flick fhotos credited to Patrikbloeme atomicshed rguerra Jan Jemmark Turismo Madrid Bastain Toniomora Greenog Carlton Browne

 

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..