I was in Cardiff recently for the European Super Cup Final, an all Spanish affair between Real Madrid and Sevilla.
The competition, is European football’s version of the Charity Shield, as the European Cup winners and UEFA Cup winners went head to head.
Originally a two legged affair, it became a one-off game at Monaco in 1998, before moving around Europe from last year onwards, in Prague, with next year’s game being in Tblisi.
There was even newspaper talk, of it being played at a redeveloped Windsor Park in the future.
Realistically, that won’t happen. The three stadiums hosting 2013-2015 have a capacity range from 20-33,000, which will be just beyond the redeveloped stadium.
When it was announced that Cardiff would host this game in 2014, i’d always intended to go to this. I’d loved going to the 2011 UEFA Cup Final in Dublin, and really regret not going to the cluster of European finals in Manchester and Glasgow between 2002 and 2008.
I’d managed to get a ticket for the game relatively easy, having missed out on the original application, extra tickets became available two weeks before the game through Cardiff City’s website. I was pleasantly surprised, considering it was a game involving Gareth Bale playing in his home city.
I’d hoped it would be Manchester United v Juventus, but Real Madrid v Sevilla was not a bad alternative.
I got to the ground at teatime, with UEFA putting on free shuttle buses to the ground from the City Centre from 5pm onwards.
Cardiff City Stadium was opening a new section of the ground that night, increasing the capacity to 33,000. It was not without controversy, as these new seats would be red. Incidentally, it was the section of the ground I was in, right on the halfway line.
Located close to Ninian Park, so close in fact, that signposts directing people to Ninian Park still remain, Cardiff City Stadium has a nod to the past with the Ninian Park gates being used for this ground. There is also a plaque as you enter the grounds in memory of Jock Stein, who died at Ninian Park in 1985, as well as recent additions for Simon Insole, who directed policing at the stadium, and former Cardiff City manager Eddie May.
Before the match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walked past me as he headed into the stadium.
I entered the stadium and went to my seat, in the second tier, in the new seats, right on the halfway line. Most of the crowd were supporting Real Madrid. I’m guessing The Bale Factor might have had something to do with it.
Wearing red shirts and being sponsored by Visit Malaysia will have guaranteed Sevilla at least one neutral in Cardiff cheering them on.
Sevilla started the game brightly and caused Real Madrid problems before Real took the lead with a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite that, Sevilla were still in the game for the rest of the first-half, almost equalising straight away from a defensive mistake.
Early in the second-half, Cristiano Ronaldo got his second, which killed the game as Sevilla’s attacks were nullified, barring a late rally.
Gareth Bale had a late shot on goal saved, denying him the goal he wanted the most.
An enjoyable trip, and always great to visit a new stadium, Real were deserved winners.
Hopefully, the next time it is in the UK, Brighton’s Amex Stadium would be an excellent venue, and a fantastic city to visit.