There is no feeling quite like the walk up to a soccer stadium, joining up alongside your fellow supporters as the stadium looms ahead in distance. There is a sense of pride, belonging and anticipation as you draw nearer to the ground, with the sheer scale of the ground making it an awe inspiring sight. Once you are in your seat it feels almost as if you are seated in a Roman amphitheatre with the roar of the crowd and the sense of nerves and excitement in the crisp air. The luscious turf has never looked greener as you get to see your team warming up and preparing for the battle ahead. For the home team, their stadium is where they can play with confidence and determine how the game will be played. For the visiting team, a stadium can be an intimidating and daunting arena, with just small pocket of travelling fans providing relief from the deafening home support.
Soccer stadiums play host to the game that we all know and love, and there are many iconic stadiums around the world which are just as famous as the players that they welcome each week. Many of these stadiums are not just home to some of the most successful teams in the world, as many of them are an important part of that city’s history and cultural identity. They are tourist attractions which many soccer fans see as a pilgrimage, even if it is just to see the stadium from afar.
Each stadium has its own unique characteristics that make them synonymous with their team. Some smaller stadiums are notorious for having an imposing atmosphere for the visiting team, whilst some stadiums are so large that it can create a surreal and dizzying atmosphere for everyone inside.
Here are the 20 best soccer stadiums around the world.
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20 Amsterdam ArenA (home to Ajax and Dutch national team)
Ajax are a team adored by many around the world, and they have also had a large number of elite players pull on the shirt over the years. This makes the De Meer Stadion one of the most important stadiums in soccer, and also one situated in one of the most loved cities in the world. It is a relatively new stadium which opened in 1996, and was the first in Europe to have a retractable roof. The 53,000 seater has played host to the 1998 Champions League final, as well as the 2013 Europa League final.
19 The Azadi Stadium (home to Iranian national team)
The Azadi stadium may be an unfamiliar site to many fans, but it perfectly demonstrates Iran’s desire to enter and compete in the world of soccer. It also demonstrates their financial power, as the entire site is breathtaking and includes a river, training pitches, swimming facilities and more. The stadium itself seats an enormous 84,000 fans, and over the years it is sure to become an important football landmark as the game expands.
18 Parc des Princes (home to Paris Saint-Germain)
Parc des Princes officially opened in 1972, but it took the place of an old velodrome that had been open since 1897. The stadium's modern, attractive design makes it instantly recognizable and it has been praised heavily for its appearance. This stadium has hosted European Cup finals, the Cup Winner’s Cup, the UEFA Cup final, Euro 1984, the 1998 World Cup and it will play a key part in the upcoming Euro 2016 competition. Located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and being home to one of the best teams, make this a hugely important stadium and one of the best on the planet.
17 Celtic Park (home to Celtic FC)
Celtic Park is one of the oldest and most iconic stadiums, and first opened its doors back in 1892. This Glasgow stadium was also the first to adopt a double-decker stand, which at the time boosted its capacity to over 50,000. Over the years it has undergone a number of transformations and can now seat 60,000 fans, which it often does. Celtic supporters are world famous for their passion and noisy support, with one of the terraces being called “The Jungle” due to the wild supporters. Celtic still consistently qualify for the Champions League, ensuring that all the greatest teams around the world get their chance to step onto the turf and pay their respects to this iconic stadium.
16 Estadio Da Luz (home to Benfica)
This brilliantly designed stadium looks fantastic and boasts an incredible atmosphere any time Benfica take the pitch. With a capacity of 64,000 and a superb design, this makes it the best stadium in Portugal and one of the best in the world. Aside from Benfica, the stadium, which opened in 2003, was used for the Euro 2004 Championships, and hosting the final where Greece beat the host nation 1-0. Estadio Da Luz also hosted the 2014 Champions League final, a prestigious match where people around the world tune in to see the two best teams battle it out.
15 Ibrox Stadium (home to Rangers FC)
The Ibrox Stadium is one with a long, and unfortunate, history, which makes it one of the most famous stadiums in soccer. In an international match in 1902 a part of the wooden terraces collapsed, causing 26 people to lose their lives. Disaster again struck in 1971 when 66 people were killed in a crush as they tried to exit the Glasgow stadium. The venue has undergone a lot of work and remodelling over the years, and is now a rectangular stadium much like Borussia Dortmund’s. Although it has undergone a lot of work, the ground has retained its famous red brick façade. Despite Rangers going through tough times and scrapping in the lowest Scottish division, the 51,000 seater almost sells out every game.
14 Soccer City (home to Kaizer Chiefs and South African national team)
Soccer City represents the global game and South Africa establishing themselves as a major soccer country. This stadium was redeveloped for the 2010 World Cup, and was the venue for the final game between Spain and Holland. With an enormous capacity of 94,000, this is a stunning stadium is located in Johannesburg and is home to the South African team and Kaizer Chiefs, meaning that it is regularly used. Soccer City is best remembered for playing host to the 2010 World Cup, with a packed crowd and the deafening sound of the vuvuzelas creating an unforgettable tournament.
13 Signal Iduna Park (home to Borussia Dortmund)
Dortmund’s rise to become one of the top European clubs in recent times has meant that their stadium needed to be expanded, and their home is now the biggest stadium in Germany with a capacity of 80,000. Signal Iduna Park is famous around the world because of the south stand, or Die Gelbe Wand (The Yellow Wall), which is the largest terrace in Europe and allows for 25,000 fans to stand and be the 12th man. This creates an intense, lively and exciting atmosphere to Dortmund matches, which make it an imposing fortress for any visiting domestic or European teams.
12 Estadio Monumental (home to River Plate and Argentinian nation team)
The biggest stadium in Argentina (64,000) is often packed to see the nation’s favourite team, River Plate, and also anytime the beloved national team play. River Plate’s move to a bigger stadium in a wealthier area of Buenos Aires is what sparked their fierce rivalry with Boca Juniors, making this area a special place in world football and somewhere that any fan should visit. This ground was used heavily during the 1978 World Cup, where the final was played between Argentina and Holland, with the host nation going on to lift the trophy after a 3-1 victory.
11 Estadio Centenario (home to Uruguayan national team)
Opened in 1930, this stadium was host to the very first World Cup final that very year, and is therefore considered hallowed ground in the world of soccer. The final saw Uruguay defeat Argentina 4-2, making it even more special for the host nation. The stadium's significance was recognized by FIFA in 1983, as it became the only historical monument in world football. The legendary stadium can seat 60,000 and can be rented by anyone. In addition to being used by the national team, it is also used heavily by Penarol and a number of smaller teams.
10 La Bombonera (home to Boca Juniors)
Not only is this stadium home to some of the loudest, most energetic fans in the world, but it also has a striking appearance which adds to the incomparable atmosphere. La Bombonera is unique in that it has just three sides in a u-shape, with the fourth side previously left open but now containing VIP boxes. This gives it a chocolate box like appearance, hence the name La Bombonera. The three sides have a capacity of 49,000 and rise high into the air, making it an imposing place for visiting teams to come who are not used to playing in an environment like this. Boca Juniors’ hardcore fans and the odd shape of the stadium make it a must see for any fan.
9 Anfield (home to Liverpool)
Anfield is proof that you do not need a capacity of 80,000 to create a powerful, intimidating atmosphere. This is one of the most famous stadiums in the world and has an incredible atmosphere, with a capacity of just 45,000. This small venue adds to the intensity, and with Liverpool having some of the loudest fans, it makes any game at Anfield special. Over the years there have been talks of Liverpool moving away from Anfield, but there are now plans to expand the stadium as it holds such importance for fans, as well as the city of Liverpool.
8 Estadio Azteca (home to Club America and Mexican national team)
Before this summer Azteca was the only stadium to host two World Cup finals, making this a historic and legendary stadium. Azteca has a staggering capacity of 104,000, making it the perfect venue for prestigious international tournaments where the atmosphere is electric. Located in Mexico City, Azteca plays a key role in tourism due to the sheer size and historic significance of the venue. England fans will best remember this as the ground where Maradona scored his infamous “Hand of God” goal.
7 Allianz Arena (home to Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich)
This beautiful stadium may not be the biggest in the world (71,000), but it is one of the most visually striking grounds. Unlike the majority of stadiums on the list, this is a new venue which opened in 2005, giving it a unique, modern look. At night the entire stadium can be lit up from the outside in either red (for Bayern), or blue (for 1860 Munich), which makes Bayern’s Champions League fixtures that much more majestic. With Bayern establishing themselves as one of the biggest teams in the world, the Allianz Arena will be revered by fans for years to come.
6 San Siro (home to Internazionale and AC Milan)
Stadio San Siro first opened in 1926 and was home to AC Milan, but in 1945 they started to share with Internazionale. A decade later the world famous stadium was expanded, and it now seats an impressive 80,000. What makes San Siro such an important soccer stadium is the fact that it is home to two of the greatest teams in soccer history. Whether it is red and black or blue and black, this stadium has a history to it which makes it an intimidating place to come for any visiting team. Derby matches where the ground sharing teams face off against one another are legendary and enjoyed by people around the world.
5 The Maracana (home to CR Flamengo and Fluminese FC)
One of the lasting images of the World Cup this summer was of the sun setting on the fantastic Maracana stadium, with the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in the background. This stunning stadium was a fantastic venue for the World Cup this year, but it is not the first time it has played host to the competition. It was a key venue in the 1950 World Cup, and it is thought that an astounding 200,000 people watched the final from the stands. The capacity was greatly reduced after a deathly accident, and it now seats just under 80,000. The enormous, circular stadium gets used regularly, but it is the international significance that makes this such a colossal stadium.
4 Santiago Bernabeu (home to Real Madrid)
The Bernabeu may not have as larger capacity (85,000) as Camp Nou, but this prestigious stadium is home to one of the greatest teams of all time and will often host the national team. Dozens of legendary players have put on the famous all white kit and called Bernabeu home, and because of this it ensures that there is a scintillating atmosphere at each game; particularly for Champions League fixtures or matches against fierce rivals Barcelona. Opened in 1947, the Bernabeu has gone under a few renovations and upgrades, making it one of the biggest and most attractive stadiums in soccer.
3 Old Trafford (home to Manchester United)
Old Trafford is a legendary football ground and the most famous club stadium in England. It is hallowed turf where many legendary players have come to make Manchester United one of the biggest and most successful clubs of all time. The 75,000 red seats and brickwork inside make it instantly recognisable, and an imposing stadium for any team to visit. The reign of Sir Alex Ferguson may be over at Old Trafford, but his statue just outside the ground serves as a reminder to visiting teams that they are not in for an easy game at “The Theatre of Dreams”.
2 Camp Nou (home to Barcelona)
Camp Nou is an iconic and instantly recognizable stadium, and it is also an enormous tourist attraction for the city of Barcelona. Millions of people from around the world, soccer fans or not, make the pilgrimage to this legendary stadium to see where the best players in the world have played. Part of Camp Nou’s charm is the fact that not much has changed since its opening in 1957. This gives it a classic, historic feel which cannot be replicated anywhere else. The only changes have been to add seating tiers, making it one of the biggest stadiums with a capacity of just below 100,000. An awe inspiring venue that hosts one of the greatest ever teams, located in the stunning city of Barcelona, make this one of the greatest stadiums in sport.
1 Wembley (home to English national team)
Wembley is home to the home of football, making it the most iconic stadium in the game. It may not get used for matches as often as other stadiums, but there is a sense of pride and history with this stadium that makes it like no other. In addition to the national team, it also plays host to the League Cup final, FA Cup final and the community shield, and hosted the 2011 Champions League final. Wembley was reopened in 2007 and built on the same site as before, and it now has the second largest seating capacity in the world with 90,000. Located in north-west London, its famous arch can be seen from miles around in each direction.
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