CF Valencia - The Mestalla - Capacity: 55,000 All Seater
The Stadium – The Mestalla Avenida Aragón 33, Valencia
When the Louis Casanova Stadium opened in May 1923 it was one of the most modern stadiums in Spain, and indeed was used as the original model for the Bernabau in Madrid. Now remained as the Mestalla it is still possible to see the similarities between the two stadiums, although the sunnier climate on the Costa means that ¾ of the stadium are still uncovered.
The original stadium was a modest 17,000 single tier affair, and 2nd tiers were added during the 1940’s as on field success allowed the club to expand and compete with the big teams from Madrid. In 1954 the roofed main stand opened, taking the capacity to over 45,000.
Very little work was carried out on the stadium until the early 1980’s when the ground was chosen as a venue for the 1982 World Cup. The stadium hosted all of Spain’s group games including the unpredicted and unwanted draw against Honduras and defeat to Northern Ireland.
During the 1990’s a tier was added to the east stand taking the capacity to its current 55,000 capacity. The stands in the upper tier are very steep. Whilst the views are good, you do need to be very fit to make the trip to the upper tiers.
The stadium can still be quite atmospheric despite the majority of the stands being open to the elements. The stadium is a favourite of the national team, and they have an excellent record here and there have been calls for them to claim the stadium as their natural home ground.
Who Plays There? The club were formed in 1919 by a group of local students who had heard stories of English football, and inspired by the games played by the visiting sailors. After a few years of travelling around the city, they found some roots at the Mestalla stadium, which opened in 1923. The following year they won the regional championship although this was the only trophy the club won until 1941 when they won the Copa del Rey by beating Espaynol. The following season they went one step further and captured the La Liga championship for the first time. Two further championships followed in 1944 and 1947 to end the decade as one of the most feared teams in Spain.
The 1950’s were a quiet decade although the club did win the renamed Copa Generalissimo in 1953. Ten years later, the team inspired by the success of Real Madrid on the European stage entered the Inter-City Fairs Cup for the first time in 1962. In a run to the final that included victories over Nottingham Forest (7-1 on aggregate), Inter Milan and MTK, Valencia scored goals for fun. In the final they met Barcelona who had had just an impressive route to the final, but it was Valencia who took the title 7-3 after a brilliant 6-2 win in the Mestalla. The following year, Valencia retained the title with a 4-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb and were only prevented a hatrick of successive titles by a surprisingly well motivated Real Zaragoza in the 1964 final in the Nou Camp in Barcelona.
In 1970, Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano joined the club as coach and within 9 months he had delivered the title back to the fans in the Mestalla. This turned out to be the last major honour the club won for nearly twenty years, apart from a Cup Winners Cup victory on penalties against Arsenal in 1980. The other notable event during the 1980’s was the relegation of the team for the first time ever after some shocking performances on the pitch.
After returning to the top division in the late 1980’s the club tried a succession of coaches to try and deliver some level of consistency. Guus Hiddink replaced Di Stefano in 1991 but could only manage a high of 4th place. He was replaced by Carlos Alberto Parreira who had just steered Brazil to World Cup success in the USA.
In 1995 the club got to the final of the Copa Del Rey and were due to meet Deportivo La Coruna in the Bernabau. After 14 minutes of the game, with Deportivo winning 2-1 torrential rain caused the game to be abandoned, and the result to stand – the shortest ever major final in Spanish history.
Parreira was replaced by Luis Aragonés who could not improve performances on the pitch as Real Madrid continued to dominate. Claudio Ranieri was the next to be given the reigns and he did deliver the Copa Del Rey in 1999 with a penalties victory over Barcelona. However, Ranieri never enjoyed a good relationship with the crowd due to his constant desire to change the team (he joined Chelsea shortly after leaving Valencia where he became known as the Tinkerman due to this reason). Little-known Argentinean coach Héctor Cúper was asked to take over the reigns in 1999 and his blend of attacking football based on two fast wingers (Killy Gonzalez and Claudio Lopez) with an attacking midfield general (Mendieta) coupled with a free-scoring centre forward John Carew delivered success in the Champions League. Teams came and left well beaten in Valencia as they marched towards a final with victories over Lazio and Barcelona on the way to a final against Real Madrid in Paris. Despite playing well for the majority of the game, Madrid were probably playing at the peak of their powers and romped to a 3-0 victory. Twelve months later the team were back in the final, this time in Milan’s San Siro against Bayern Munich. Again, luck was not on their side and they lost 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Cúper left the following season joining Inter Milan and he was replaced by untested Rafa Benitez. He delivered success within 18 months with the La Liga coming back to the Mestalla after a 31-year wait. Two years later he won the trophy again, and in Europe captured the UEFA Cup with a win over Marseille. Benitez skills were soon spotted by Liverpool and the Spaniard took up the reigns at Anfield in early 2004.
Since then the club has gained successive 2nd place finishes in the league, with a team consisting of skill in Pablo Aimar, and strength in Roberto Ayala. Added to this has been the recent signings of Marco Di Vaio, Joaquin and Antonio Reyes to strengthen their challenge during 2006. In this season’s Champions League campaign, three wins out of the first four games saw the club qualify with ease for the second round with two games to spare. In the league they have continued to show consistency, although the form of Seville in the first half of the season has taken everyone by surprise.
How to get to the Mestalla Stadium The Mestalla is based in the eastern suburbs of the city, around a 20-minute walk from the historic centre of the city, and the beach as Las Arenas. For the vast majority of the year the walk from either is very pleasant. However, you can use public transport to reach the stadium. From the north of the city then catch Tram line 4 from Pont de Fusta three stops eastwards to V Zaragoza. From here follow Ave Primado down to the junction with Ave de Cataluyna and then you will see the group. Alternatively, the nearest metro stop to the ground is right by the south stand at Aragon. This is on the newly extended line 5, which extends from line 3 at Alameda.
If you want to walk from the city centre then the easiest way to find the stadium is to head for the old river bed to the north of the old city centre. From there head eastwards until you reach the bridge at Ave de Zaragoza. Then head north for five minutes and the stadium will be in front of you. From the Las Arenas beach area, just follow Ave del Puerto from the south end of the beach all the way westwards until you reach Ave de Zaragoza, then follow north.
For a more detailed view on who plays where in Valencia go to Footiemap.com to access their excellent Football map site.
How to get a ticket for the Mestalla For the majority of games played at the Mestalla, tickets are available up until kick off from the ticket windows on the southwest corner of the stadium. Each window sells tickets for different stands, so it may appear from one seller than the game is sold out, try all windows. Ticket touts also congregate around these windows.
Tickets for most matches go on sale around 10 days before the game, both from the ticket windows and from a number of outlets in the city including the official club shop in c/Pintor Sorolla 25 and all Toyota dealerships in the city. Ticket prices range from €80 in the covered Tribuna to €22 in the Grada de la Mar. The latter tickets are open to the elements and are a long hike up to the top tier. At present there is no online ticket booking facility.
Around the Mestalla The stadium sits amongst residential blocks of flats in the eastern suburbs of the city. There are a number of bars and cafes on all sides of the ground. To the east of the stadium is the regenerated Las Arenas beach area, which is being prepared for the arrival of the Americas Cup in 2007.
UD Levante -The Estadio Ciudad de Valencia - Capacity: 25,354 All Seater
The Stadium – The Estadio Ciudad de Valencia Calle Vicente Paúl 44, Valencia
The modest Cuidad de Valencia has been the home of Levante since 1969. It is a very open stadium with four identical stands, three of which are uncovered. The main stand has some cover although the pleasant weather in the region means it is not normally an issue.
However, try telling that to any Scotland fans who made the journey here for a friendly in September 2003 when the game was abandoned shortly before the start of the second half due to the failure of the floodlights on a night of high winds and lashing rain – weather that you normally associate with Glasgow and not Valencia. With the team’s return to La Liga in 2006, the stadium will once again play host to the Valencia derby. During their previous season in La Liga the club averaged close to 17,000, and of course sold out against Real, Barca and Valencia.
Who Plays There? After a season out of the top league, Levante have returned to the top table this season. Before 2004, they had only spent two seasons in La Liga and will be hoping to fair better this season than they did in 2004/05 when after a good start to the season (they were in 11th spot at the turn of the year) they slipped quickly down the table and were relegated on the last day of the season. The team were originally formed in 1909 and have become accustom to living in the shadows of their neighbours, Valencia.
They have had a number of famous players in the past including current Arsenal full back Lauren, Yugoslav international Predrag Mijatovic and amazingly for a season Johan Cruyff. This season they have recruited ex-Newcastle star Laurent Robert, Laurent Courtois who spent a season with West Ham and Brazilian Ze Maria. Also in his third season with the club is ex-Leeds United full back Ian Harte.
How to get to the Estadio Cuidad de Valencia The stadium is located in the north of the city, close to the Avinguda dels Germans Machado. The nearest metro stop is Machado, which is a 5-minute walk to the east of the stadium. The stadium is a 10-minute walk from the Mestalla.
For a more detailed view on who plays where in Valencia go to Footiemap.com to access their excellent Football map site.
How to get a ticket for the Estadio Cuidad de Valencia The club are currently enjoying another spell in the La Liga that means that demand has increased dramatically for tickets. However, apart from the games with the big three, tickets are on sale up until kick off from the stadium. Tickets range in price from €60 for a seat under cover to €18 behind the goals. All seats offer an equally good view although you may need an umbrella if rain threatens.
Around the Estadio Cuidad de Valencia The stadium is located in the north of the city in a main residential area. Although, the stadium is relatively old the area around it hasn’t really been developed yet and so there is little in the way of places for fans to stop and drink in.
Getting around Valencia is certainly a city on the up, and huge sums of money have been spent in the past few years getting the city ready for the 2007 Americas Cup. The metro is the easiest way to get around and is comprised of three lines (lines 1, 3 and 4). Single tickets cost €1.10. A day pass for both the metro and buses costs €3.
Manises airport is located around 8km to the west of the city centre. The airport has one single terminal, and is the fourth busiest airport in the country. To reach the city centre from the airport you can catch one of two buses. The Aero bus runs direct to Avenue del Cid every twenty minutes from 6am and costs €2.5 each way. Line 150 runs to the central bus station, making a number of local stops along the way. Tickets cost €1.05 each way. A taxi to the city centre will cost approximately €20.
The airport is currently served by Ryanair from London Stansted, Easyjet from Bristol, London Gatwick and London Stansted, Thomson fly from Coventry and Jet2 from Manchester. It is also served daily by British Airways from London Gatwick and Heathrow.