World Football: 50 Best Places To Watch the Beautiful Game (Final Part)

Chris PotterCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2011

World Football: 50 Best Places To Watch the Beautiful Game (Final Part)

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    We've marvelled at the innovative Sapporo Dome in Japan with interchangeable pitches, the glittering Allianz Arena in Munich with its thousands of external lights and the majestic nature of Soccer City in Johannesburg, aloof above the Soweto wastelands.

    The previous two slideshows have counted down 40 of the 50 best places to watch what many consider to be not only the greatest sport, but also the greatest game on the planet.

    This has taken us to numerous countries and continents, to training grounds and academies and world-class arenas.

    Here are the best 10 places to watch football, soccer, calcio, le foot.

    Prepare to be awestruck!

10: Any Brazilian Street Or Beach, O Pais Do Futebol

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    Home of Ronalo, Robinho and Kaka. Of Pele and Socrates. One of the biggest countries in the world.

    A vast and diverse territory where one activity unites all—football...To the beat of the samba.

    And people throughout the world will be treated to football the Brazilian way (somehow sounds rude) when FIFA takes its four-yearly tournament to the country in 2014.

9: Anfield, Liverpool, England

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    Steeped in history, home to the some of the greatest players ever and also to the most famous stand in the world—The Kop—Anfield, home of Liverpool F.C., is a mighty stadium.

    The stadium played host to a quarter-final in the Euro 1996 football championship and has welcomed international athletics, boxing and tennis to its hallowed turf also.

    Plans to replace it with a slightly bigger, more modern Stanley Park stadium have been met with fierce criticism from many supporters, as they can't bear the thought of a move away from the stadium.

8: Old Trafford, Manchester, England

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    House of worship for more than 75,000 fans of Manchester United, by far the most successful club in modern English football and one of the most popular clubs throughout the world.

    Football greats such as George Best, Bobby Charlton and Eric Cantona have dazzled supporters down the ages.

    There has been much tragedy and controversy which has added to the club's aura, including the Munich Air disaster which killed eight players, and Eric Cantona's famous kung-fu incident.

    For footballing history, matchday atmosphere and exciting football, it is hard to find better elsewhere. 

7: Estadio Alberto J. Armando, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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    Affectionately known by supporters as ''The Chocolate Box'' (La Bombonera), Diego Maradona still has an executive box at this intimidating Argentina arena, which is home to Boca Juniors F.C.

    Despite only fitting in 49,000 spectators, it is here where supporters will be able to feel very closely the hostility and passion which is often associated with South American football.

    Due to the unusual shape of the building, the acoustics are incredible—and the supporters are commonly referred to as "La Doce" or the "Twelfth Man."

6: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

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    Ruling the Chamartin district of the Spanish capital is this monolithic structure, named after a former club president.

    At less than 65 years old, it is one or the more modern stadia in this list, but that diminishes neither its symbolism nor its standing within the game.

    The 1982 FIFA World Cup Final as well as last year's UEFA Champions League final came to the Bernabeu and, after two renovations and three expansions at no little cost, more than 80,000 football-lovers come from far and wide to see some of the greatest players on show here.

5: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico

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    This place is enormous and truly inspiring. 

    104,000 is its capacity, making it the largest purpose-built football arena outside of Asia (where the May Day Rungrado Stadium can hold nearly 50 percent more people).

    It is lucky to have been the ground in which Diego Maradona scored the ''Hand of God" goal and also what is considered to be the best goal ever scored in a World Cup match.

    It was also here that Italy defeated West Germany 4-3 after extra-time in 1970, a match which was dubbed the ''Game of the Century."

    Superlative events in a superlative stadium.

4: Wembley, London, England

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    Designed by industry-leading architect Sir Norman Foster and built at a staggering cost of more than $1 billion, this stadium can hold more than 90,000 spectators and has a 134-metre arch, which has replaced the famed Twin Towers of the old stadium.

    Piles measuring 35 metres, an arch bigger in diameter than a Eurostar train, nearly 120,000 m2 of concrete and steel and nearly 3,000 toilets are other statistics which show that this is truly a ground-breaking building.

3: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

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    Located in the San Siro district of the bustling Italian city is the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, home to two of Europe's most prestigious clubs and teams, A.C. Milan and Internazionale.

    Named in honour of a double World Cup winner, it has a capacity of 80,000 and was chosen as the venue of the 1990 FIFA World Cup final.

    It is a truly special place which is steeped in football culture and history.

2: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

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    If Barcelona's motto is ''mes que un club'' (more than a club), the Camp Nou is certainly ''mes que un estadi'' (stadium).

    Situated in the north-west corner of the revitalised coastal city, it is nearly 60 years old and can hold nearly 100,000 supporters.

    During General Franco's ruthless dictatorship, it was one of the only public domains in which Catalan was freely spoken and it is vital as part of the club and a focal point of regional culture and pride. The height and width of the stadium and the size of the television screens have to be seen to be believed.

1: Estadio Do Maracana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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    The Maracana was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup final, during which a staggering 199,854 paid to watch "El Maracanazo." Uruguay's shock 2-1 defeat of the host nation.

    Pele scored his 1,000th career goal here, Zico scored a record 333 times. Despite being downsized after another spectator tragedy, it has witnessed catholic masses, huge pop concerts and will also play out the opening and closing ceremonies of the upcoming Olympic Games in 2016.

    But this is a venue which will forever be synonymous with great football, even greater footballers and some of the best football matches ever.