olympiastadion go pro

Olympiastadion in Berlin / UEFA

Olympiastadion in Berlin / UEFA

Olympiastadion in Berlin / UEFA

On 6 June FC Barcelona will take part in the Champions League final against Juventus at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. The stadium is the biggest in Germany even though its capacity was reduced from 100,000 to 76,065 during its last refurbishment which came ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Currently, it plays host to various events from concerts to track and field meetings. Furthemore, it is the home stadium of Bundesliga club Hertha BSC Berlin and the final of the German Cup has also been played in the Olympiastadion since 1985. It is one of venues often used by the German national side and years previously it was the home of the American Football side Berlin Thunder.

As well as being a multi-use facility, the Berlin Olympic Stadium is a venue replete with history that is worth investigating ahead of the final:

Top ranked stadium. In 2005 UEFA handed the stadium Elite five star status, the highest possible ranking available for a stadium in Europe.

First European final. It’s the first time that the German capital has hosted a final in European competition. Previously, Champions finals have been played in Munich (1979, 1993, 1997 and 2012), Stuttgart (1959 and 1988) and Gelsenkirchen (2004). Since the Europa League has also been decided in a single match, the final has also been played in Dortmund (2001) and Hamburg (2010).

Two World Cups. Germany has hosted the World Cup on two occasions. Both times the Olympic Stadium has been the venue for matches. In the first in 1974, which was eventually won by the host nation, Berlin welcomed teams for group stage games. In 2006 it was the centre of attention for a final in which Italy emerged victorious on penalties over France. Current Juventus players Buffon, Barzagli and Pirlo were all members of the azzurri team that day.

Origins. The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, designed by the German architect Werner March, was built between 1934 and 1936 for the Olympic Games in 1936. The venue replaced the old German stadium that had a capacity of 32,000 inaugurated in 1913 and designed by Otto March, the father of Werner March, for the Olympic Games in 1916 which were never to take place due to the First World War.

Jesse Owens’ four gold medals. The great figure of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin was the American athlete Jesse Owens. He gained international recognition after winning four gold medals in an event that was marked by the attempts of Adolf Hitler to use the games for Nazi propaganda purposes. Owens’ victories were a blow to the Führer’s ideas that promoted the concept of the superiority of the Aryan race and also considered people of African origin, amongst others, as inferior beings.

Historic monument. One of the symbols of the Third Reich, it is a place loaded in history. It was constructed using the architectural ideas of the time, as was Hitler’s wish, and it highlights layer of dark stone that covers the stadium that gives it a touch of majesty. Given its historic status, the refurbishment in 2006 was prohibited form touching the façade which still retains symbols and objects constructed during the Nazi era in Germany. 

An unexpected discovery. In 2002, during some routine maintenance work, a 250 kilo bomb from the Second World War was discovered under one of the stands in the Olympiastadion. It is believed that the bomb came to the Stadium in Berlin by mistake due to a technical problem with the plane in which it was being transported. To deactivate the detonator, the bomb disposal squad had to cordon off an area of approximately 300 metres. Hertha Berlin were training at that moment at the stadium and they continued with their exercises despite the events unfolding.

Usain Bolt’s world record. In 2009 in the track and field World Championships the 22 year old Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt hit the headlines after winning the 100 metres title for the first time in a world record time of 9.58 that still stands today..

Blaugrana precedents. The last time that Barça played in the Olympiastadion was on 23 November 1999 in a game against Hertha Berlin during the Champions League group stage that season. The match ended in a 1-1 draw with the blaugranes’ goal being scored by none other than Luis Enrique.

Mascherano and Messi. Only two players from the current squad have played previously in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. Javier Mascherano and Leo Messi will want to forget their previous visit to the ground when they were part of an Argentina side that was beaten on penalties by Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup.

Back to top