When the stands are bouncing, the crowd is roaring, and flares are being lit, it can be very intimidating to step onto the field. In these scenarios, even the most experienced players can become a nervous wreck. And that’s why the crowd is often referred to as the 12th man.
Sometimes the crowd can end up being the difference between a team winning or losing a match. In this list I’m going to take a look at some of the most intimidating football stadiums across the world — where the home advantage really makes an impact.
La Bombonera, La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Bombonera, which means chocolate box in Spanish, gets its name from its distinctive shape. There are three steep stands and one that is basically vertical, giving the opposition team the intimidating feeling that the home fans are on top of them all of the time. Indeed, stadiums are built with the sole purpose of phyching out the opposition and giving the home side a distinct advantage.
Hernan Crespo, during his early days playing for River Plate, once stated that the ground was shaking under his feet due to the atmosphere during a Superclásico, which is a fierce derby between River Plate and Boca Juniors. The pitch is actually the minimum size that FIFA allows — so this ensures that opposing players have no escape from the deafening noise raining down on them.
Türk Telekom Arena, Istanbul, Turkey
Galatasaray used to say “Welcome to Hell” when playing at their old stadium, and this was something that stuck when they transferred to the Türk Telekom Arena back in 2011. Calling it ‘Hell’ is very appropriate since the stands often seem like they are on fire thanks to the high number of flares as well as the yellow and red colour scheme of the jerseys.
For more than two years, the Türk Telekom Arena held the record for having the loudest atmosphere, and many of the world’s best teams have all been overcome by the surroundings — Manchester United, Juventus, and Real Madrid have all lost here.
Anfield, Liverpool, England
Now, Anfield is hardly as frightening as some of the other stadiums on this list, but there are not many stadiums in the world of football that have the same mystique as this hallowed ground. This has been the home of Liverpool since they were formed in 1982, and it is a stadium that is steeped in history, with Liverpool being one of the world’s most successful clubs.
Fans of each generation will be able to recall famous European nights at this majestic stadium. From Inter Milan back in 1965 to Saint-Etienne 12 years later, to Chelsea 16 years ago in 2005. Each one of them will remember the spine-tingling chorus of the famous song, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Opposition players usually claim that they are unfazed by the atmosphere at this stadium, but stats show otherwise. In fact, between April 2017 and January 2021 Liverpool went 64 games unbeaten at Anfield, highlighting the true value of their home advantage.
It’s therefore vitally important to consider the potential impact of the home advantage has when betting on any football fixture — particularly when stadiums like Anfield are involved. You can find football bookies at www.mybettingsite.uk/football/.
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt
The 1986 Africa Cup of Nations final was played at the Cairo International Stadium stadium, and 120,000 spectators were crammed into the arena to set an African football attendance record that will never likely be beaten.
For the 2006, African Cup of Nations, once again hosted by Egypt, the capacity was reduced to 75,000, but this reduction in numbers did not seem to have any impact on the febrile atmosphere. Egypt went on to lift the trophy once again after penalties. There’s no doubt that the hostile atmosphere from the home supporters hugely impacted the Ivorian players that missed their penalties.
This stadium also plays host to a derby game between Al Ahly and Zamalek, two of Egypt’s most successful teams. The rivalry has an animosity that you will not feel in many other stadiums across the world.
Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
Just like with Anfield, Signal Iduna Park, the home of Borussia Dortmund, is more awe-inspiring than it is intimidating. The famous Südtribune stand when it is full of banners, scarves, and flags is known as the “Yellow Wall”. It is actually the biggest single-tier stand in the whole of Europe, boasting a full capacity of 25,000.
Over the last decade, this amazing stadium has witnessed some very memorable results, especially during the Champions League. A 4-1 demolition job of Real Madrid, a stunning comeback against Malaga, and a big win against Atletico Madrid are some famous games that spring to mind.
Rajko Mitić Stadium, Belgrade, Serbia
Liverpool, like many other teams, rely on the big atmosphere created by their fans to help them overcome their opponent. But sometimes the boot is well and truly on the other foot as the Reds found out when they took on Red Star Belgrade at the Rajko Mitić Stadium and lost 2-0. The Serbian champions were not given much of a chance of winning this match, but the electric crowd cheered them on to the win. This was definitely a throwback to their better days, when they won the European Cup back in 1991.
The venue does not sell out often nowadays, but it definitely remains one of the most intimidating stadiums when it does — especially if it is a derby against their local rivals Partizan Belgrade. During a derby match, it’s more like a war than a game of football with smoke bombs, flares, and homemade weapons.
You might also like my article: The Most Unique Football Stadiums In the World
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