So the draws for the Champions League and Europa League have been completed, and everyone knows how difficult their group is. But just how enjoyable will each group be for the fans of British and Irish teams that do go? We had a look.
Champions League Group G: Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen
Regardless of how this Champions League campaign goes, Foxes’ fans won’t be too bothered, not when they’ve got the European tour of a lifetime to look forward to! Leicester will first enjoy the canals and cobbled streets of Bruges, before moving on to Copenhagen, where they’ll find a wide array of museums and a rich jazz scene. And in December, it’s off to Porto, former European capital of culture, with its cathedral, history and local cuisine, of course.
Museums, jazz and historic architecture – all personal favourites of the modern day fan.
Europa League group K: Inter Milan, Sparta Prague, Hapoel Be’er Sheva
A real mixed bag, this one for Southampton. With Milan and Prague, the Saints will be marching into two of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Milan is the global capital of fashion and design, with fans of Claude Puel’s side able to take in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper before they take in the San Siro. Prague will offer more culture, along with an astronomical clock which we’re sure will be of more interest to fans than the beer and hearty food. It’s the trip to Beersheba which will be of concern. Based in Israel, Beersheba has a warm climate and is famed for its chess players, but also has a past riddled with terrorist attacks, which could put fans off travelling. For this reason, it comes in second.
3. Manchester City and Celtic
Champions League Group C: Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach
Manchester City and Celtic fans have a lovely pair of trips to look forward to, with getaways to Spain and Germany on the cards! Why not familiarise yourself with Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, or enjoy the beaches and port of Barcelona before watching Lionel Messi through your fingers. Then enjoy Monchengladbach, with its municipal park and botanical garden, before hitting the museum for relics of the stone age, including Gareth Barry and Kevin Nolan. (Just kidding!)
As for Glasgow or Manchester, we’d have to say the Scottish city’s history of ship building as well as Victorian and Art Nouveau influences just edges Manchester’s industrial landscape. Sorry!
Champions League Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Basel, Ludogorets Razgrad
Arsenal fans, swap the nouveau riche characteristics of the Emirates Stadium for the Gothic that Europe has to offer! In Paris, you’ll enjoy the boutiques and cafes of the French capital, while enjoying the Notre-Dame cathedral as well as the iconic Eiffel Tower. Then it’s off to Bulgaria for a mystery trip to Razgrad, with its characteristic clock tower, built in the 19th century no less. And if it’s more Gothic you’re after, look no further than your final away trip to Basel, where you’ll be hoping the group is all sewn up so you can enjoy yet another Gothic cathedral!
Champions League group E: CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco
It’s not a bad group for Tottenham, and they’ll certainly hope to qualify, but there’s some travel involved here. First up is Moscow, and if Spurs fans can keep their eyes open after the long flight, they’ll see the Kremlin, Red Square and Saint Basil’s cathedral, with its Disney-like domes. From there it’s off to Leverkusen in Germany, where you’re better off making the short trip to Cologne for its cathedrals and sweeping city views. After that you’ll be heading south to Monaco, where you’ll gaze upon riches and splendour before heading home for Christmas.
6. Manchester United
Europa League group A: Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, Zorya Luhansk
Bit of a mixed bag here United fans, with some interesting but not classic locations. A trip to Istanbul awaits and stands to be one of the more difficult games Jose Mourinho’s men will play, with archaeology museums, the Grand Bazaar and a history of empire to take in; but be aware of Turkey’s turbulent political situation. Rotterdam will host the Old Trafford side as well, but doesn’t offer as much as Amsterdam. And finally, what about Luhansk for a short holiday? Take in the Merheleva ridge, an ancient structure said to resemble Aztec and Mayan pyramids, if that’s your sort of thing. If not, there might not be much else to take up your time I’m afraid…
Europa League group D: Zenit St Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel-Aviv
For Dundalk it’s quite a European tour. A long trip to Russia will hopefully be rewarded with a great game as well as some good sightseeing, with Saint Petersburg offering stunning views, but it could be very cold so take a spare football shirt and plenty of layers. Alkmaar will be another destination for the fans, where not only will there be medieval buildings on show, but a cheese market as well, offering literally minutes of fun. Then it’s Netanya, where Maccabi Tel Aviv’s stadium resides. With its galleries and museums, monuments and sculptures, fans will also have to be aware of conflict in Israel if they are to travel. A tricky set of fixtures and lots of travel – far from ideal.