Ground: Campo de Fútbol de Mestalla
Date: 3rd January 2016
Match: Valencia - Real Madrid 2-2 (Primera División)
Attendance: 47 185
The fixture I looked forward to the most during my trip to Spain was the last one, Valencia vs Real Madrid at Mestalla. A match involving Real Madrid is of course always interesting but it was actually the ground itself that was the biggest factor in planning a trip to Valencia/Spain this week. Fellow Swedish groundhopper Hasse has seen 60 games at Mestalla and he spends a lot of time during the winter months in Valencia. He has told me many positive things about Mestalla (and Valencia for that matter!) but unfortunately he was in Sweden for the Real Madrid game.With its very steep stands Mestalla is one of the most interesting grounds in Europe and a ground every groundhopper should visit. Nowadays the capacity is around 48 000 and a game against Real Madrid would be sold-out. As soon as tickets went on sale I was on-line and managed to buy a ticket for the East Stand. I arrived in Valencia on Tuesday (29 Dec) evening and on Wednesday afternoon, as I was doing a sightseeing tour of the city centre, I went by the ground to take some exterior pictures. From the outside the grounds look amazing and I was even more looking forward to the game on Sunday evening. After games at Levante and Villarreal I left for Madrid on Friday morning. On Sunday I first paid a visit to Estadio de Vallecas for Rayo Vallecano vs Real Sociedad before making the return journey to Valencia. My AVE high-speed train arrived at 17.30 and 20 minutes later I was in my hotel room. Kick-off this evening was at 20.30 at 19.00 I was outside the ground. As always it is a great feeling to experience the buzz surrounding a big football match.
Once inside Mestalla I was overwhelmed. The stands are really steep and this really is an amazing football ground. Actually Valencia CF were not supposed to play at Mestalla anymore. In August 2007 construction works on the New Mestalla started but in February 2009, due to financial problems, the work was halted. Since then the plans have been redesigned but no construction works have been done since 2009. Once completed, I am sure the new stadium will be stunning but groundhoppers around the world will miss Mestalla. Anyway, I took pictures of the empty stands before getting something to eat and drink. My seat was high up in the East Stand and gave me a great view of the pitch. Unfortunately the overhang from the top tier partly obstructed my view of the other stands. As kick-off approached the ground filled-up and in total 47 200 were inside Mestalla for this game. Real Madrid started the better team and after some combinations of the highest quality Benzema scored the first goal, 0-1 after 16 minutes. Real Madrid had chances to score more goals but instead it as Valencia who would equalize. Some poor defending gave Valencia a penalty in the last seconds of the first half, 1-1 after 45 minutes and a great atmosphere inside Mestalla as the players headed towards the tunnel. In the second half Real Madrid had a player sent off but in the 82nd minute Gareth Bale scored with a header to give the Real Madrid the lead once again. "You are at your most vulnerable right after you score" proved to be the case at Mestalla as well. Less than a minute after Real´s second goal Valencia scored to make it 2-2 and the atmosphere for the reminder of the game was superb. In the last minute of stoppage of extra-time Valencia had a great chance to win the game but somehow failed to score. 2-2 was to be the final score and the last game was also the best of the trip.
After the final whistle I headed towards the nearby metro station but for some strange reason there was only ONE train going back to central Valencia after the game. This train was so crowded it was a bit scary but I made it on-board and shortly after 11pm I was back at my hotel. Over a drink I reflected over the trip and even though the first three games were a bit boring the eight goals scored on the last day meant I had a great ending to my first visit to Spain since 2007. On Monday morning I went back to Madrid, from where I had a flight to Copenhagen in the afternoon, and around 21.00 I was back home in Kristianstad.
Rear of the West Stand
Rear of the northwest corner
Rear of the North Stand
Rear of the East Stand
Rear of the South Stand
Players and officials entering the field
View of play
View of play
Goal for Valencia!