Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena is one of two potential venues to host the 2021 Champions League final. Their rival: Russia’s Saint Petersburg Stadium, the home of Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Munich is on a mission. That mission: bring the Champions League final to Bavaria. In November 2018, the Russian and German football associations indicated that they were interested in hosting the 2021 Champions League Final, and on Friday February 22, UEFA confirmed that both associations had submitted the necessary paperwork to formally throw their hats into the ring.
Bayern’s 75,000-seat colosseum and the Saint Petersburg Stadium are two of Europe’s biggest, best, and most state-of-the-art venues. According to UEFA’s stadium categories, both meet the criteria to be considered four-star, elite stadiums – the highest rating in the world.
Both grounds have also played host to several high-profile matches and will represent their countries as venues in the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. However, it’s hard to look past the Allianz Arena when it comes to staging the biggest fixture in European club football.
Watch: Take a look around the Allianz Arena
Beyond hosting 17 Bundesliga matches, plus several domestic and European cup matches every season, the Allianz Arena has history as a Champions League Final host. In 2012, thousands of Müncheners watched their beloved side contest the final against Chelsea. A year after its inauguration, the stadium also hosted six matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, including the opening game (a 4-2 victory for Germany over Costa Rica) and France’s 1-0 semi-final victory over Portugal.
All of which has contributed to the Allianz Arena being an unmitigated success for over a decade. The Arena replaced the Olympiastadion, built for the 1972 Summer Olympics, as Bayern’s home for the 2005/2006 season and has become an immediately-recognisable feature in the landscape of the Bavarian capital.
The stadium’s exterior skin can be illuminated in any combination of up to 16 million colours to reflect the events taking place inside, and around the city. When the stadium glows crimson red, Bayern fans and the travelling support fill each one of the 75,000 seats in Germany’s second-largest stadium.
That tendency may prove decisive in UEFA’s decision making process. In 2007, then-UEFA president Michel Platini stated a preference that each year’s final be played in a ground with an average capacity of 70,000, in the interest of security.
Interestingly, that is exactly the Allianz Arena’s capacity for international football and European competitions. While there have been exceptions to that rule (in 2014, 2017 and last year), Champions League final venues have generally been able to accommodate at least the prescribed 70,000. The Saint Petersburg Stadium has never seen a crowd of even 65,000.
The last time Munich hosted the final, in May 2012, lives long in the memory of Bayern fans for all the wrong reasons. Thomas Müller looked to have won the match late on, only for Didier Drogba to equalise with two minutes remaining and send the match into extra time and then penalties, which the home side ultimately lost 4-3. Bayern fans would not doubt be delighted with the prospect of a chance to avenge that 2012 defeat and capture European glory at home.
The decision will be made in September 2019, but the stadium’s ability to welcome thousands of international guests for Champions League football will once again be on display when thousands pack the Allianz Arena for Bayern’s second-leg round of 16 tie against Liverpool later this month.
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