Just outside the town of Arévalo, some 125 kilometres northwest of Madrid, in Castilla-Leon, lies one of Real Madrid’s secret weapons for the 2018-19 season.There, just over an hour and a half’s drive from the Spanish capital they are carefully cultivating the turf that will be laid at the Bernabéu at the end of July, the date on which the pitch laid last summer will be replaced.
This year the pitch replacement is taking place a little later than last year. That’s because in 2017, Real Madrid played the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona on 16 August. This year, Real Madrid only have the European Super Cup, in Tallin, Estonia, on 15 August, before LaLIiga gets underway on the weekend of 18/19 August.
The grass for the new Bernabéu pitch was sown at the end of April, on land belonging to a company dedicated exclusively to sporting turf. Since then it’s been subject to periodic revision from head groundsman Paul Burgess, who’s meticulous in his requirements for the hybrid pitch. The natural grass is mixed with a flexible textile mesh, reinforcing it, and avoiding two problems: firstly that the grass is pulled up and that sections of the pitch can become muddy, which in turn reduces the risk of injury. The grass is also grown in soil with a high percentage of silica, which strengthens its roots.
With the change of the grass at Real Madrid’s stadium, the fans have the chance to walk out onto the pitch, something usually only reserved for the players. From 12 to 29 July, those taking the Bernabéu Tour will be allowed onto onto the old grass,meaning they can see how the stadium looks from where their heroes play.