In the wake of the Copa Libertadores final being relocated to Santiago Bernabeu, we take a look at the most notable European finals played at this iconic stadium.
1964 European Championship final
– The second ever European Championship, or European Nations’ Cup as it was called then, was hosted by Spain. The final tournament was actually a four-team affair as all prior matches were played as home and away ties. As such, there were only two host cities (Madrid and Barcelona), and Santiago Bernabeu was chosen as the venue for the final, which was a match between Spain and the defending champions Soviet Union. The two teams cancelled each other out with two early goals, but Marcelino’s 84th minute strike brought glory to the Red Fury on home soil. It was their first international success and only until Euro 2008. Number 10 Luis Suarez was Spain’s prized asset at the time and this is what he had to say about the atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium filled with 80.000 fans (BBC Sport):
“My main memory [of the final] is of the atmosphere because the Bernabeu was full,”
“…we had suffered a lot during the semi-final against Hungary [the hosts secured a 2-1 victory in extra time], so the fans were in the right frame of mind to get behind us right from the start. That gave us a great sense of security and helped us to stay calm.”
1982 World Cup final
– Santiago Bernabeu turned out to be a lucky charm for Italy, who won their second World Cup title in 1982 by defeating West Germany at Real Madrid’s stadium. In typical fashion, the Nerazzurri struggled in the group stage, drawing all three of their matches and finishing second behind Poland. That pitted them against Brazil and Argentina at the next stage. The Italians were seen as the outsiders of the three, yet two victories versus the South Americans (the second one of which saw player of the tournament Paolo Rossi score a hat-trick against “the best team to have never won a World Cup” Brazil) meant they were headed for a rematch with Poland in the semi-finals. Two more goals from Rossi secured a spot in the final, where Italy’s players were on top of their game and beat a West Germany side that knocked out Michel Platini’s France in a thrilling 3-3 semi-final, the first to be decided by a penalty shootout. The final score was 3-1 in a game played in front of 90.000 spectators inside Spanish capital’s main venue.
2010 Champions League final
– Despite his awkward tenure as Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho must have fond memories of Santiago Bernabeu, as it was the place where Inter became the first Italian team to ever complete a treble. It was the culmination of probably Mourinho’s best coaching season, as his stingy, counter-attacking tactics paid off, in large part thanks to the goalscoring prowess of Diego Milito. The Argentinian found the net twice in the 2-0 victory against Bayern Munich. Interestingly enough, the Bavarians were also chasing a treble and would’ve also become the first team from their country to complete the extraordinary accomplishment. Mourinho went out on a high and quit Inter after the tournament, instead signing a lucrative contract with none other than Real Madrid.
Other European finals played at Santiago Bernabeu were the 1957 and 1969 European Cup finals (now known as Champions League) and the 1985 UEFA Cup final. The winner of that 1957 finals match was Real Madrid, who got the best of Fiorentina (2-0) in front of 124.000 viewers. AC Milan was the winner of the 1969 final, defeating Ajax convincingly (4-1). Real Madrid was part of the 1985 UEFA Cup final, which it won on aggregate (3-1) against Hungary’s Videoton.