Photo credit: Wanda Metropolitano / @Metropolitano

Atletico Madrid go back in time with debut of new stadium (photos)

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid will get closer to the past when it moves into its new stadium this weekend.

The state-of-the-art venue inaugurated on Saturday will thrust the traditional Spanish club into modernity while not letting go of its rich history.

The 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano, named after the Estadio Metropolitano where Atletico played more than half a century ago, will give fans plenty of comfort and luxury.

Wanda Metropolitano also will feature references to Atletico’s history, including four other stadiums where the club played in its 114-year existence. It highlights the small site where it was founded in 1903 to the beloved Vicente Calderon where it played from 1966 until last season.

“The fans obviously will never forget the memories, the nostalgia and the love that they had for the old Metropolitano or for the Calderon,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “And they will fall in love with the Wanda Metropolitano as well, because what makes them fall in love is actually the team and its jersey. And that will never change.”

Fans will be reminded of Atletico’s past when they arrive at the venue in northeastern Madrid.

The subway station inside the stadium is also named after the old Estadio Metropolitano, and the roads leading to the venue all refer to the team’s history. One is named after Atletico great Luis Aragones, a former player and coach, and another makes reference to the team’s foundation date, April 26.

A large statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, Madrid’s city symbol, will welcome fans outside, with five tree roots symbolizing the team’s five stadiums. The symbol is also part of Atletico’s shield.

A huge flag with Atletico’s red, white and blue colors will be outside, measuring 3,638 square feet and touted as the biggest in Spain. It will be hoisted on a 131-feet mast in tribute to the team’s supporters.

As fans advance toward the main entrance, they will go through the “Walk of Legends,” where plaques on the ground will honor each of the more than 150 Atletico players who have 100 or more appearances with the club, including some from the current squad.

Photos of Aragones and Simeone will be on display in the entrance of the locker rooms, along with motivational phrases by the two Atletico greats.

Inside the $286-million venue, fans will have access to modern facilities and top-notch video and sound systems. The club has promised to try to replicate the type of atmosphere that they had in the 55,000-capacity Calderon.

Nearly all of the seats will be covered by an elegant round-shaped roof that can be lit up in different colors. The red-colored seats will be bigger and more comfortable than they were at the rundown Calderon.

Atletico said the Wanda Metropolitano will be the first stadium in the world to use LED technology in its entire lighting system. It will be visible from far away at night and is expected to quickly turn into another city landmark.

There were mixed feelings among fans when Atletico decided to move away from the Calderon, which was outdated but delivered one of the greatest atmospheres in soccer and symbolized Atletico’s persevering spirit.

The fans gradually got behind the idea of the new stadium, and there is already a waiting list to get season tickets.

“Usually there is some initial discontentment when you change stadiums,” Simeone said. “But when you see the new venue, when you see that the club is growing, you are happy and you want the club to keep growing.”

A 12-hour party is planned for Saturday’s opener, starting well before the Spanish league game against Malaga. There will be fan zones and concerts to keep fans entertained throughout the day, and light shows and fireworks are expected just before and after the match at night.

Atletico played its first three league games away to make sure there was enough time to prepare the new stadium. Not everything will be done, but the club said none of the delays will significantly impact the inauguration.

The new venue, which gets the Wanda name from the Chinese company that has a stake in the club, was built around the La Peineta complex in the outskirts of the Spanish capital. It’s near the city’s airport and far from the Calderon’s neighborhood or from where the old Metropolitano stood.

The complex was originally supposed to be upgraded into an Olympic Stadium, but Atletico took over after Madrid lost its bids to host the games in 2012, 2016 or 2020.

“We will forever hold on to the memories of going to the Calderon with our parents or our grandparents,” said Atletico striker Fernando Torres, a club fan since his youth. “And now it’s time for us to go to this new stadium, to take our children to this new stadium.

“It will be up to us to explain to them who was Luis Aragones, explain to them that there was a time when this stadium didn’t exist, but we felt the same way about the old one as they feel about this new one.”

Manchester United to seek out those who continue offensive Lukaku chant

Andrew Matthews/PA via AP
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Some Manchester United supporters persisting in singing a chant glorifying Romelu Lukaku which has been deemed racist by many for its depiction of the player’s penis size.

Lukaku was among those to ask that fans stop singing the song, as did the club, but it was heard from the away end at St. Mary’s during Manchester United’s 1-0 win on Saturday (where Lukaku scored the winner).

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s gorgeous free kick ]

United responded with vigor after the match, releasing a statement claiming it would request closed circuit footage of the fans in attempts to ban those singing the song based on The Stone Roses’ “Made of Stone.”

WATCH: Coutinho spins gorgeous free kick past Schmeichel

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Minutes after setting up Mohamed Salah for a back door header for a 1-0 lead at Leicestwer City, Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho tacked on a goal of his own.

WATCH LEICESTER-LIVERPOOL ONLINE, HERE

Coutinho scored a beauty in the 23rd minute, as the Brazilian lorded over a free kick before spinning a goal just off the top of the wall and past a flying Kasper Schmeichel.

It looked like it was headed for the upper 90 even had it not taking its tiny deviation. The kick was a masterful effort from Coutinho.

Everton’s comeback win puts Koeman “in a totally different world”

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A quiz for you. Oumar Niasse‘s two goals:

  • A) Saved Ronald Koeman‘s job
  • B) Led Everton’s come back win
  • C) All of the above

Koeman admitted “there were a lot of emotions” in Everton’s 2-1 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday, as the Toffees got off the mat to post their first Premier League win since Aug. 12.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Bournemouth ]

After a summer of spending, the Toffees were expected to compete for another berth in a European competition. Instead, a murderer’s row of early fixtures had Everton very low on the PL table.

Was Koeman able to stay calm as his team struggled at home against Bottom Three side Bournemouth?

“Calm after the game, yes. There were a lot of emotions. It was a difficult game, we did not create many chances and we took the right decision after 1-0 down to try something different – play two strikers and go more direct.

“It is a totally different world after winning. You have key moments during the season and this was a big win that will give everyone a boost.”

Apollon Limassol is next for the Toffees, followed by matches against Burnley and Brighton.

Jose Mourinho responds to sending off, Man United win

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho saw his side battle to a 1-0 win away at Southampton on Saturday as they kept their unbeaten start to the Premier League season going.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game after 20 minutes and although Saints had the better of the play in the second half, United’s defense held firm.

Towards the end of the game Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Craig Pawson for encroachment as he stepped onto the pitch during the action.

What happened?

“I don’t know, you have to ask the referee,” Mourinho said.

He then wasted more time by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he briefly went into the stands before the final whistle was blown.

It remains to be seen if he will face a touchline ban or fine for his actions but speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho focused on the performance of his team.

“It is not always possible to operate at high quality but fought hard. We did what many teams in the Premier League do for 90 minutes, which was play with five defenders at the back. Credit to Southampton, they tried to play. Pellegrino changed the team and sent on another striker to play more direct.

“It was a hard game but I am really happy. Romelu Lukaku’s work is so important for us. He scored his goal and worked hard like everybody else. Nobody feels the pressure to play always attacking football because so many teams play always defensively. I felt some of the boys were not sharp. I didn’t feel like we could score three or four goals like we sometimes do so the option was to make sure we got the points.”