With Europe’s three big club competitions completing their draws today, we’re getting a glimpse of the two kinds of football fan.
On one side are those who are weighing up their club’s options, attempting to determine their route into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.
On the other are those who are dusting off their passports and preparing for at least one big away day, having been starved of international travel for most of the last year and a half.
While trips overseas aren’t what they once were, and we don’t yet know what the regulations will look like throughout the six group stage evenings, we’ve picked a few stand-out trips awaiting fans of the nine British clubs involved in European action over the autumn.
Manchester City: Paris
Even before Leo Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, a midweek venture across the channel represented an attractive proposition. If we’re being honest, it’s got plenty going for it even when the football isn’t on. C
ity’s win over PSG last season was played in front of an empty Parc des Princes, and there will be plenty who fancy making a full week of it having missed out on the chance to do so in April.
Liverpool are spoiled for choice, with Madrid, Milan and Porto all having their respective charms. Milan has the added element of football memories, though, with the Reds finally having the chance to take on the Rossoneri at the San Siro after two meetings on neutral ground in the aughts.
A voyage to one of Europe’s most famous stadiums isn’t something you’ll turn down in a hurry.
Manchester United: Villarreal
Put the chance for Europa League revenge to one side, and the idea of Villarreal away still appeals a little more than Bergamo or Bern - at least among those United fans who didn’t manage to make the trip back in 2005 or 2008.
They might even get to see a goal, after the scoreless previous meetings, but there’s something to be said for a small town you can easily walk around during a short trip.
Depending on restrictions, Chelsea might have one of the best chances to fit in two countries during the same away trip. A weekend in Copenhagen followed by a trip across the bridge to take in the game at the Eleda Stadion during the week? That’ll be hard to turn down.
The Blues have faced Malmo before, during their journey to Europa League glory in 2019, and a return in the Champions League could bring back some fond memories.
Leicester - Naples
Napoli and Leicester might both have ended last season in the Champions League spots were it not for final-day woes, but the pair will be among the favourites for the Europa League.
On top of that, Naples is a fantastic city with wonderful food and the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona - as the San Paolo is now known - is one of those grounds you don’t turn down if you get the chance to go. There are few better cities in the competition.
After time spent without the prospect of European holidays, let alone European away days, maybe you want something different. Maybe you want a city packed with Michelin-starred restaurants, so you can really get the most of your trip even when the football isn’t on.
The good news for Rangers fans is that shouldn’t be a problem in Lyon, and you can even get there by train from the UK if you fancy a more leisurely trip.
West Ham: Zagreb
For West Ham fans, any European group stage trip will be appetising after the false dawns of 2015 and 2016, but Zagreb certainly catches the eye. Dinamo’s Stadion Maksimir has hosted plenty of Champions League football, while the city itself has a funicular railroad, which is always a nice little novelty on any trip to Europe.
If you fancy something closer to home, though, Austria and Belgium aren’t the worst alternatives.
Celtic have found themselves in a particularly green-and-white group, having been drawn against Ferencvaros and Real Betis, and the former might be the standout away day.
Even without the narrative of revenge for last season’s Champions League qualifying defeat, the prospect of taking a trip out to Budapest and enjoying the city’s nightlife will appeal to plenty of Bhoys supporters.
Spurs have wound up with one of the shortest possible European away days, but the chance of a trip on the ferry to Brittany makes a nice change from flights to the far side of the continent.
While you’re there you can eat your body weight in crêpes and gallettes, and the town, while inland, is driving distance from the beach if that takes your fancy. Oh, and Spurs fans might be able to one-up their Arsenal supporting mates if their team does what the Gunners couldn’t and wins at Roazhon Park.
Subscribe to FourFourTwo today! Guarantee the finest football stories and interviews dropping on your doorstep first every month.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1