About the Stade Louis II The Stade Louise II is one of the most surreal venues to watch football in Europe. In one of the world’s richest playgrounds, where space is at an absolute premium, it is amazing that there is a stadium here at all.
The club first started playing in the principality in 1919, although they had their first real stadium built in 1939 on land that had been reclaimed from the sea. In the early 1980’s when Prince Rainer III came to power in Monaco, he funded the building of a new stadium a few hundred yards away from the existing ground in Fontvielle, overlooking the cliffs of the Cote d’Azur. The new stadium was built with a cark park, office space, swimming pool and a gymnasium all underground, such is the demand for space in the principality.
The stadium opened in 1985 and was named after Prince Rainier’s grandfather, who actually officially opened the stadium. Despite its small capacity, was chosen to host the 1986 Cup Winners Cup Final between Dynamo Kiev and Atlético Madrid. Since 1998 the stadium has also hosted the Annual UEFA Super Cup Match, played in late August between the Champions League and the UEFA Cup winners. This years match will be played between AC Milan and Sevilla.
The stadium also hosts a number of top athletics competitions every year, including the IAAF World Athletics Finals. The presence of the athletics track is one of the only annoyances in an otherwise excellent stadium. The views from the stands are very good, with the prime seats being in the upper tier of the north stand – known as the Tribune d’Honneur.
Who plays there? Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club to give them their full title are quite unique in world football. They are by default a national team, but as Monaco is not affiliated to FIFA they are able to play their games in the national league of France (although technically they could play in any other European league). The club were formed in 1919, although it wasn’t until after the Second World War that they turned professional.
Their formative years were relatively unimpressive, and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that they won their first trophy by beating St Etienne 4-2. The following season they won their first Championship in 1961. Two seasons later they won the Championship again, and a few weeks later beat Lyon in a replay to complete a domestic double.
The club had to wait another fifteen years before they captured a third title, starting an impressive run of form that delivered three Ligue 1 titles and two French Cup victories in the next decade. In 1997 they won the league again and qualified for the Champions League again. In fact the club’s performance in European competition ranks very high with the rest of teams in Europe. They reached the quarter-finals in 1989 before being eliminated by Galatasaray, and semi-finals in 1994 and 1998, before the famous run to the final in 2004. In the Cup Winners Cup they were losing finalists in 1992, defeated by Werder Bremen, and have also reached the semi-final of the 1997 UEFA Cup before losing 3-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Inter Milan.
However, in recent times the club is best remembered for the Champions League campaign of 2003/04 under the leadership of Didier Deschamps. After winning their group containing PSV Eindhoven, AEK Athens and Deportivo La Coruna (which included an amazing 8-3 home victory), they beat Lokomotiv Moscow on away goals to set up a quarter-final against favourites Real Madrid. After a 4-2 defeat in the Bernabau the omens did not look good for Monaco, especially when Raul scored mid-way through the first half to make it 5-2. However goals by Ludovic Giuly and on-loan Fernando Morientes against his employers saw Monaco go through on away goals. In the Semi-Final versus Chelsea, Morientes was on fire again and helped the club to a 3-1 victory at the Stade Louis II. Chelsea could not break down a stubborn defence and a 2-2 draw in London was enough to take the club through to the final in Gelsenkirchen against Porto. Unfortunately their run of form deserted them in Germany and the Portuguese won 3-0.
Since then the club have struggled to recapture their form as the star players from that team have left. Strikers Morientes, Nando and Prso all left within 12 months, and Giuly was lured by the big bucks at Barcelona. Although they did reach the last 32 of the UEFA Cup in 2006, defeat to FC Basel signalled the end of their European adventures. In the league last season’s 9th place finish was very disappointing.
How to get there The stadium is located close to the city centre of Monaco, just south of the Royal Palace. It is a 5 minutes walk from the main railway station, or a 3 minute walk from the Heliport that can fly you direct from Nice airport in less than 10 minutes. Just to the south, past the Heliport you can see how close the stadium is to the Mediterranean Sea.
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Getting a ticket Despite having one of the most affluent supporter bases in the world, crowds don’t exactly flock to the Stade Louis stadium on a regular basis. Even in the height of their 2004 Champions League run, tickets could still be bought on the day of the game for the match versus Chelsea in the Semi-Final. Last season they averaged just over 11,000 and had a best attendance for the match versus Marseille of 17,500. Therefore, tickets can be purchased on the day of the game on most occasions.
Tickets can be purchased on line at http://www.asm-fc.com, by emailing the ticket office at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on +377 92 053754 or from a number of shops around the region including FNAC in Monaco, Cannes and Nice. Ticket prices start from just €8, with a ticket in the Tribune d’Honneur costing €40, making it one of the cheapest clubs in Europe to watch. A season ticket can cost as little as €70 – no more than a ticket to see most Premiership matches.
Getting around Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, behind Vatican City and is just 1.95km square in area. Therefore, you can walk across the whole of the country in less than 30 minutes, although it is very hilly. The principality has its own station, on the mainline from Nice. There is a small network of buses that run through the province, with a daily pass costing €3.50.
Nice airport is the second most important in France, handling over 10million passengers a year. It is located on the Promenade des Anglais around 8km west of the city of Nice. From the UK it is well served with daily flights operated by British Airways from London Gatwick and Heathrow, BMIBaby from Birmingham, Flybe from Exeter and Southampton, Jet2 from Leeds-Bradford and Manchester, and Easyjet from Bristol, Liverpool, London Gatwick, Luton and Stansted as well as Newcastle. All of the airlines apart from Easyjet fly from Terminal 1.