SOCCER

Atlético Madrid fill the Wanda Metropolitano for first time in 574 days

The lifting of restrictions meant that Atlético's stadium was at 100% capacity for the first time since Sevilla's visit on 7 March 2020, before the state of emergency.

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Atlético Madrid fill the Wanda Metropolitano for first time in 574 days
JAVIER SORIANO AFP

For Atlético, Saturday's meeting with Barcelona wasn't just one of the classic games in LaLiga's calendar, it also marked the return of their fans en masse to the Wanda Metropolitano. Safety restrictions which have been in place for the entirety of the pandemic were lifted from the start of October, allowing Atleti to fill their stadium for the first time since 7 March 2020, when Sevilla were guests - just days before Spain announced a state of alarm due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three days after the Sevilla game, it was announced that all LaLiga games were to be played behind closed doors for the next fortnight and the following day, 11 March, Atlético travelled to Anfield to take on Liverpool in the return leg of their Champions League Last 16 tie. Three days after an epic win over the defending European champions, the whole of Spain was plunged into lockdown, football - and normal everyday life itself was placed on hold until competition returned without the public in the stands in the summer of 2020.

Full house

Atlético were crowned LaLiga champions in 2020-21, even though their fans were not physically present to watch. Supporters only gradually started to return to grounds in Spain at the start of this season, at first, just 40% stadium capacity was allowed for the opening day meeting with Elche. But restrictions on fans attending sports events in Spain have since been relaxed, and there was no better way to celebrate the Wanda Metropolitano back at full capacity and filled to the rafters than Barcelona's visit in Week 8. The home fans were in fine voice from start to finish, the night was capped off with a 2-0 win with goals from Thomas Lemar and Luis Suárez.

Now, Atleti are keen to fill their stadium for every home game. Season ticket holders are now permitted access to the Wanda Metropolitano without the need to apply for a matchday ticket like they had to when capacity was reduced and the club put the remaining tickets on sale to fill all of the 68,000 seats at the Metropolitano. Atlético fans were also keen to return and get behind their team, which had the best home record in LaLiga last season, and cheer on the side following recent results - three consecutive draws (Villarreal, Porto and Athletic) and 180 minutes without scoring. The fans will play their part in making the Wanda the fortress it was before the pandemic.