With the draw now made EB’s exhaustively unnecessary coverage of the various permutations associated with our European excursions rolls on. This time round we deliver some 2 dig analysis on the three sides likely to get snotted all over the place, as we qualify with 3 games to spare setting a new Europa League record for webbings dished out in one season.
The full group stage fixture list will be available 60 minutes after the draw ceremony with matches will held on 18 September, 2 and 23 October, 6 and 27 November and 11 December;
Match-day 1 – 18th sept > Wolfsburg (h)
Match-day 2 – 2nd oct > Krasnodar (a)
Match-day 3 – 23rd oct > Lille (a)
Match-day 4 – 6th nov > Lille (h)
Match-day 5 – 27th nov >Wolfsburg (a)
Match-day 6 – 11th dec > Krasnodar (h)
Odds: 40/1 Pint Price: £3.82
Stade Pierre Mauroy holds 50,000 and Lille generally pull in a crowd of between 30-40,000 for home games. It’s very easy to get to with the Eurostar from London only taking a few hours – Eurostar actually launched a flash sale today for London-Paris/Bru from £59 rtn if booked 28 Aug to 9 Sep for travel 22 Sep-17 Dec. Alternatively you could fly from Manchester to Brussels with Ryanair and train / drive the last 60miles or drive it in about 8 hours from the UK should you wish.
Lille had the best defence in ligue 1 last season although were the lowest scorers in top 9. Former Chelsea forward Kalou got 16 of them but is rumoured to be on his way before next week’s closure of the transfer window, whilst £10m libepewl signing Origi got just 6. They have good stock having been Champions in 2011 and having qualified for the ECL then and also in 2012 during the days of Eden Hazard.
Odds 33/1 Pint Price: £2.25
The 5th placed team in Germany last season and a very capable outfit albeit not of the same vintage of the Grafite / Dzeko vintage which won the Bundesliga a few years back. The VW Stadium holds 30,000 fans and last season their average gate was 28,103 so its going to be touch and go to get a ticket. To get there you can fly to Berlin and then catch a 2 hour train to Wolfsburg. If you’d rather train it you can go London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London St Pancras at 15:31, arriving Paris Gare du Nord at 18:47 then go onto Berlin by the City Night Line sleeper train Perseus, leaving Paris Gare de l’Est daily at 20:05 and arriving Hanover at 06:30 and Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 08:28 next morning before catching a connecting train to Wolfsburg. Check out the Seat61 site for more details.
Inside the ground the ‘Nordkurvensaal’ pub serves Wittingers and Stackmann’s complete with novelty bendy glass, which is nice. Entrance wise, the match tickets are as cheap as 15 euros usually. In terms of further reading, EFW have done a good review of the matchday experience here.
Odds: 150/1 Pint Price: £ 1.50 Based to the northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk which is dangerously located in the deep south of Russia and around a 20 hour drive from Moscow. It has an international airport but you’ll struggle to find direct flights from the UK. You can fly to Moscow and then get a domestic flight with one of their easyjet equivalents like Transaero or go via Sochi. Total flight time would be around 6 hours excluding the stop off. On the field their ground The Kuban Stadium holds 31,654 and in last season’s EL their neighbours Kuban who also play at this ground pulled in on average 25,392 fans per game.
This is their debut season in the EL, having won 5 out of their 6 games in qualification and impressively scoring 20 goals in the process. They are unbeaten in their opening 5 games of the new Russian League Season with Brazilian Joaozinho and Vladimir Bystrov two of their most potent attacking players, so far scoring half of the sides goals between them with Joaozinho also scoring in the impressive 3-0 win that sent out Sociedad in the play off – a warning that on their own turf they are a side to be reckoned with.
Thanks for reading.