The proud home of the mighty Club Atletico River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti – better known as the Monumental – is one of South America’s three great stadiums along with the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Centenario in Montevideo, Uruguay. Situated in the suburb of Belgrano, it has hosted some of the Argentinian national team’s most memorable games and provided a suitably dramatic setting for the Opening Match and the Final of the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™.  

The largest football ground in the country, it is also the oldest surviving stadium of those used by Argentina’s big clubs and has staged some of South America’s biggest concerts, with the likes of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC and U2 having all played there. River Plate have won most of their national and international titles at their beloved home ground and went 47 matches unbeaten there between 19 September 1954 and 6 July 1958, a national record.

The story of one of South America’s most famous stadiums is almost as fascinating as the feats of the great teams and players who have graced it, as FIFA.com explains in its tribute to a great footballing venue.

A pioneering vision
River Plate had established themselves as one of the most popular clubs in Argentina by the time the 1930s came around. Nevertheless, in the years following their foundation in 1901 in the suburb of La Boca, a mere stone’s throw away from the home of their long-standing arch rivals, they were forced to move on several occasions. In 1923 they finally made a more permanent home for themselves on Avenida Alvear y Tagle, in the Recoleta district. But when the lease ran out on the site 14 years later, the club were left looking for a home again.

In response to the problem, River Plate’s then president, Antonio Vespucio Liberti, came up with an idea that was initially dismissed as being totally impractical. His solution involved building a concrete stadium in an uninhabited part of the city, on land that had been reclaimed from the River Plate 50 years earlier. The plan’s many detractors said that the marshy site would not be able to support such a building.

Though it was no easy task in gaining approval for the project, Liberti managed to convince everyone of its viability, with the club eventually purchasing an eight-and-a-half hectare site for the construction of an Olympic stadium with a 400-metre athletics track and further sports facilities both inside and outside of the venue. The club would also set up its offices there.

Work began September 1936, a year before the advent of Argentina’s professional era, and was completed a few days before its official opening on 25 May 1938. Though grandiose in scale, the stadium should have been even bigger.

The original project put together by the architects Jose Aslan and Hector Ezcurra envisaged the construction of four stands, each with a capacity of between 30,000 and 40,000. At the time, however, only three of them were built, due to a lack of funding, with the grandstands forming a horseshoe.

It was not until 1958 and the lucrative sale of Enrique Omar Sivori to Italian giants Juventus that River Plate were able to build the fourth and final stand, which now bears the name of the player whose transfer made its construction possible. Upon completion the stadium had a capacity of nearly 100,000, while its various stands extend in length for fully 70 kilometres.

A long-awaited triumph
The last time Argentina failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup was in 1969, the fatal blow to their hopes of reaching Mexico 1970 coming when Peru held them to a surprise 2-2 at La Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ home ground. Mindful of that setback, the organisers of the 1978 world finals, to be played in Argentina, had no doubt as to which venue should be the centrepiece of the tournament.

In preparation for the competition, the Monumental underwent a 16-month renovation. To the existing construction was added an upper stand now known as Sivori Alta. A large electronic scoreboard was erected on the new stand as well as a new lighting system, with outer stairwells also being built.

The stadium cut an imposing sight at the Opening Ceremony and hosted a number of first and second round matches before staging the match for third place and the Final. The tournament showpiece pitched an Albiceleste side containing luminaries such as Mario Kempes, Daniel Passarella, Ubaldo Fillol, Osvaldo Ardiles and Daniel Bertoni against the Netherlands, with the hosts running out 3-1 winners on a historic night to claim the World Cup for the very first time.

Aside from the goals scored by Kempes and Bertoni, one of the most abiding memories of that compelling game was the sight of ticker tape cascading down from the stands when the teams walked out on to the pitch. Argentina’s captain on that unforgettable day was none other than River Plate idol Daniel Passarella, who had the honour of lifting the World Cup at a stadium where he excelled on so many occasions for his club, both as a player and a coach.

A setting fit for stars
While the 1978 World Cup Final is unquestionably the most important match the Monumental has ever staged, it has seen many other big occasions and welcomed some of the most famous names in Argentinian football.

The setting for the 1951 Pan American Games and the finals off the 1987 and 2011 Copa America, the Monumental has also been the scene of five Copa Libertadores finals as well as a final apiece in the Supercopa Sudamericana, Copa Interamericana and Copa Sudamericana. On top of all that, Argentina have played more World Cup qualifiers there than anywhere else in the country.

River Plate fans have been entertained by some great names at their famous home, starting with the fabled Máquina team of the 1940s, which included Juan Carlos Munoz, Adolfo Pedernera, Jose Manuel Moreno, Angel Labruna and Felix Loustau. They were followed by the much-idolised trio of Amadeo Carrizo, Alfredo Di Stefano and Omar Sivori, and the stars of the 70s and 80s, namely Passarella, Kempes, Alonso, Americo Gallego, Fillol, Enzo Francescoli, Nery Pumpido, Claudio Caniggia and Oscar Ruggeri.

In the 90s it was Ramon Diaz’s trophy-hungry teams' turn to grace the Monumental stage, with Ariel Ortega, Marcelo Salas, Marcelo Gallardo, Juan Pablo Sorin, Hernan Crespo, Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola all lighting the stadium with their skills.

Described by the great Pedernera as “the giant’s first step”, the concrete mass that is the Monumental has proved a fitting venue for the many matches and triumphs it has witnessed over the years. A symbol of football’s glorious past, its present and its future, it has rightly earned its status as one of world’s great footballing arenas.

Hosted matches

FIFA WC 1966 Prel. Comp. CONMEBOL

01 Aug 1965
01 Aug 1965
Match
Group 3
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
01Aug
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Paraguay
ParaguayPAR
Full-time
FT
3-0
17 Aug 1965
17 Aug 1965
Match
Group 3
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
17Aug
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Bolivia
BoliviaBOL
Full-time
FT
4-1

1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina ™

FIFA WC 1986 Prel. Comp. CONMEBOL

09 Jun 1985
09 Jun 1985
Match
Group 1
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
09Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Venezuela
VenezuelaVEN
Full-time
FT
3-0
16 Jun 1985
16 Jun 1985
Match
Group 1
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
16Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Colombia
ColombiaCOL
Full-time
FT
1-0
30 Jun 1985
30 Jun 1985
Match
Group 1
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
30Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Peru
PeruPER
Full-time
FT
2-2

FIFA WC 1994 Prel. Comp. CONMEBOL

22 Aug 1993
22 Aug 1993
Match
Group A
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
22Aug
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Peru
PeruPER
Full-time
FT
2-1
29 Aug 1993
29 Aug 1993
Match
Group A
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
29Aug
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Paraguay
ParaguayPAR
Full-time
FT
0-0
05 Sep 1993
05 Sep 1993
Match
Group A
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
05Sep
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Colombia
ColombiaCOL
Full-time
FT
0-5

FIFA WC 1994 Prel. Comp. Play-off CONCACAF/OFC/CONMEBOL

17 Nov 1993
17 Nov 1993
Match
Play-Off OFC/CONCACAF - CONMEBOL
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
17Nov
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Australia
AustraliaAUS
Full-time
FT
1-0

FIFA WC 1998 Prel. Comp. CONMEBOL

24 Apr 1996 - 01:00 Local time
24 Apr 1996
Match 264
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
24Apr
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Bolivia
BoliviaBOL
Full-time
FT
3-1
01 Sep 1996 - 01:00 Local time
01 Sep 1996
Match 279
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
01Sep
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Paraguay
ParaguayPAR
Full-time
FT
1-1
15 Dec 1996 - 01:00 Local time
15 Dec 1996
Match 291
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
15Dec
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Chile
ChileCHI
Full-time
FT
1-1
30 Apr 1997 - 01:00 Local time
30 Apr 1997
Match 136
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
30Apr
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Ecuador
EcuadorECU
Full-time
FT
2-1
08 Jun 1997 - 01:00 Local time
08 Jun 1997
Match 139
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
08Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Peru
PeruPER
Full-time
FT
2-0
20 Jul 1997 - 01:00 Local time
20 Jul 1997
Match 147
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
20Jul
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Venezuela
VenezuelaVEN
Full-time
FT
2-0
12 Oct 1997 - 01:00 Local time
12 Oct 1997
Match 65
FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
12Oct
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Uruguay
UruguayURU
Full-time
FT
0-0

FIFA WC 2002 Prel. Comp. CONMEBOL

29 Mar 2000 - 21:30 Local time
29 Mar 2000
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
29Mar
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Chile
ChileCHI
Full-time
FT
4-1
04 Jun 2000 - 15:00 Local time
04 Jun 2000
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
04Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Bolivia
BoliviaBOL
Full-time
FT
1-0
19 Jul 2000 - 21:00 Local time
19 Jul 2000
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
19Jul
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Ecuador
EcuadorECU
Full-time
FT
2-0
16 Aug 2000 - 21:00 Local time
16 Aug 2000
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
16Aug
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Paraguay
ParaguayPAR
Full-time
FT
1-1
08 Oct 2000 - 20:00 Local time
08 Oct 2000
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
08Oct
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Uruguay
UruguayURU
Full-time
FT
2-1
28 Mar 2001 - 21:30 Local time
28 Mar 2001
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
28Mar
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Venezuela
VenezuelaVEN
Full-time
FT
5-0
03 Jun 2001 - 15:00 Local time
03 Jun 2001
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
03Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Colombia
ColombiaCOL
Full-time
FT
3-0
05 Sep 2001 - 20:00 Local time
05 Sep 2001
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
05Sep
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Brazil
BrazilBRA
Full-time
FT
2-1
08 Nov 2001 - 18:00 Local time
08 Nov 2001
Match
Qualifying Tournament
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
08Nov
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Peru
PeruPER
Full-time
FT
2-0

FIFA WC 2006 Prel. Comp. South American Zone

06 Sep 2003 - 16:00 Local time
06 Sep 2003
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
06Sep
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Chile
ChileCHI
Full-time
FT
2-2
15 Nov 2003 - 21:30 Local time
15 Nov 2003
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
15Nov
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Bolivia
BoliviaBOL
Full-time
FT
3-0
30 Mar 2004 - 20:30 Local time
30 Mar 2004
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
30Mar
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Ecuador
EcuadorECU
Full-time
FT
1-0
06 Jun 2004 - 15:00 Local time
06 Jun 2004
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
06Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Paraguay
ParaguayPAR
Full-time
FT
0-0
09 Oct 2004 - 15:00 Local time
09 Oct 2004
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
09Oct
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Uruguay
UruguayURU
Full-time
FT
4-2
17 Nov 2004 - 21:45 Local time
17 Nov 2004
Match
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
17Nov
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Venezuela
VenezuelaVEN
Full-time
FT
3-2
30 Mar 2005 - 20:00 Local time
30 Mar 2005
Match 0
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
30Mar
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Colombia
ColombiaCOL
Full-time
FT
1-0
08 Jun 2005 - 21:45 Local time
08 Jun 2005
Match 0
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
08Jun
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Brazil
BrazilBRA
Full-time
FT
3-1
09 Oct 2005 - 19:10 Local time
09 Oct 2005
Match 0
League round
El Monumental - Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespuci
Buenos Aires
09Oct
Argentina
ArgentinaARG
Peru
PeruPER
Full-time
FT
2-0

FIFA WC 2010 Prel. Comp. South American Zone

FIFA WC 2014 Prel. Comp. South American Zone

FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - South America