With the Champions League set to resume on Friday, fans are preparing for a different style of tournament in Lisbon.
Rather than the normal two legged affairs, the Champions League will undergo a 10 day mini tournament with all games except the Round of 16 second legs being played in Lisbon.
A final that was meant to be played in Istanbul will now be played in Lisbon.
One of the two stadiums being used is Benfica’s Estádio Da Luz in Lisbon. I had the pleasure of watching a match there in January 2020.
When i was enjoying a beer in Lisbon back in January, i would have never have predicted a worldwide pandemic would take place.
I would never have envisaged that we would see live sport with no fans. We have seen sports continue and finish their seasons without fans in the stands.
If i had known this back in January when i watched Benfica play bottom side C.D. Aves in Lisbon, i would never have left the stadium.
The stadium itself was very easy to get to. Lisbon has an underground service and it was easy to navigate around.
Once you get to the underground stop, the stadium is very close.
When you get off at the underground stop, all you see is a sea of red whether this be the Benfica flags, scarfs or replica shirts. You can really see the passion in the fanbase.
The game itself was very eventful, with a red card overturned thanks to VAR and the same player who was initially red carded going on to score a 89th minute winner for Benfica.
What struck me about the stadium was how similar it was to the Emirates Stadium that Arsenal play at.
The stadium was built a year before 2004 but only opened three years before the Emirates, which makes me wonder if they were built by the same people.
Benfica are sponsored by Fly Emirates which made me think about a possible link, but Benfica were sponsored by Vodafone when the stadium opened.
In what was a cold evening in Lisbon, the stadium appeared to be much warmer inside. Even before the game when the atmosphere was building, the seats and floor felt a whole lot warmer. Perhaps there is a heating system in the stadium?
In conclusion, with the Champions League approaching in Lisbon, the players will find it hard to dislike not only the area of Lisbon but also the stadium itself.
For me this is one of Europe’s more underrated stadiums.