Europa League 14/15

 

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In advance of our return to Europe next season EB has collated a Europa League nerd database to assist you with your excursions and knowledge of opponents.

As well as the below A-Z here are some of our most recent posts about the Everton and the Europa League;

Match Reports

FC Krasnodar 1-1 Everton – Tactical Deconstruction

Everton 4-1 Wolfsburg Tactical Deconstruction

Group H Preview

August 2014 – Analysing Everton’s likely Europa League Group Opponents

August 2014 – Debunking Europa League Myths – Why the EL is a good thing for Everton

Europa League A-Z

A

Aalborg –  Danish chumps who are expected to go out in the ECL Playoffs. Based in northern Denmark so a bit more tricky than Copenhagen. You can fly there with Norwegian Airlines from Gatwick with 1 stop in Copenhagen. One fly in the ointment is that Danish trains are the most expensive to ride on in the world. Are likely to be the lowest ranked side in the EL Group Phase. Their finest hour in recent times in European competition was in 2009 when they reached the ECL Group Phase, finishing 3rd in their group with 1 win, against Celtic.

Apollon Limassol enter at the playoff stage.The team’s current stadium is  the 13,000 seater Tsirion Stadium, also known as the Olympia Stadium. Monarch fly direct from Manchester to Larnaca or you can fly to pathos and drive the last 100km.  Jet 2 fly to both destinations from LeedsBradford Airport. In terms of what to do when you get there, Lonely Planet report that there are two sides to the city;

‘The second-biggest city in the country, Limassol (Lemesos) has several reputations: ‘the city that never sleeps’ is one, and the cliché is thanks to the tourist area’s exuberant nightlife, rivalled only by that of Agia Napa; another is ‘sex town’, with the many ‘cabarets’ (basically brothels) that dot the area around the Rialto Theatre, recently reclaimed from the pimps and rebranded for respectable theatre-goers. Some see Lemesos mainly as an industrial and commercial centre with little to recommend it. But if you like a city that’s rough around the edges, with great places to eat and drink, plus several spots for beach parties and fantastic sights, then pay a visit to Lemesos.’

Limassol fans in good spirits

Limassol fans in good spirits

FC Atromitos (enter at Third qualifying round) Capacity of the Peristieri Stadium is just 10,200. Ground is located in western Athens – you can fly direct from Manchester / London Gatwick with Easyjet

The Peristieri Stadium

The Peristieri Stadium

Astra Giorgio (enter at Third qualifying round) play at the 7,000 capacity Stadionul Marin Anastasovici. To get to Romania fly from Manchester – Bucharest via Amsterdam with KLM. Then its a 1 hour drive from Bucharest.  If you fancy taking in the sights of Europe to Bucharest a 2 day train trip starts from London to Paris by Eurostar, then go from Paris to Munich overnight by the City Night Line sleeper train Cassiopeia, leaving Paris Gare de l’Est daily at 20:05 and arriving in Munich at 07:10 next morning. Then go from Munich to Budapest by air-conditioned Austrian RailJet train, leaving Munich at 09:34 and arriving in Budapest Keleti at 16:49.  For the final leg of the journey go from Budapest to Bucharest overnight on the EuroNight sleeper train Ister, leaving Budapest Keleti at 19:10 and arriving Bucharest Nord at 12:10 next morning.

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Atheltic Bilbao are a potential drop out from the Champions League playoffs, Their new San Mames stadium holds 53,000 so there should be plenty of scope for getting in either in the home or away end. Previously managed by toffees kingpin Howard Kendall, the club was founded by the English and is probably one of the few places in Europe where English fans are thought of highly. There is a much better walkthrough of the history of the club in the excellent Morbo book. Easyjet fly direct from Manchester to Bilbao. In terms of where to go for food, this is a pretty comprehensive review of the better places to head too.

B – Betting– The toffees have been installed as 4th favourites at a best priced 20/1 with sky bet. Inter at 16/1 are favourites.

New PictureBorussia Mönchengladbach enter at the Playoff stage. Their Borussia-park stadium has a 54,000 capacity. Tickets would be hard to come by, Borussia have a hard core local support and the last time they took part in 12/13 had the 4th top average gate of 44,431 from their 4 games although that’s 10,000 light of their  capacity.To get there, fly to Dusseldorf or Cologne from Manchester (or Easyjet from London Gatwick – Cologne-Bonn) . Then catch a train from Cologne-Bonn to Monchengladbach which is a 1hr 15min journey. Jet 2 also fly to Dusseldorf from LeedsBradford Airport.Match tickets are as cheap as 10 euro’s a pop and the fanbase located next to the ground is supposedly a great place to have a cheap pre game sup.

New Picture (89)Brondby (enter at Third qualifying round) are Copenhagen’s top side but could only muster 4th place in their domestic league last season. They play in the 29,000 capacity and innovatively titled Brondby Stadium. Direct flights can be booked from Manchester / London Stansted to Copenhagen with Easyjet or go via Malmo and train it. This hotel is decent and right next to the railway station.

C

Co-efficient – Currently our UEFA co-efficient rating is 24.9 ( at the top of pot 3) which should see us in pot 2 barring the unlikely scenario where everyone from Pot’s 1 & 2 get through to the group stage. Bert Kassies guide to the Europa League is pretty definitive for co-efficient rankings and is worth bookmarking. Based on Bert’s data the 4 pot scenario currently looks like this….

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We could end up with an ideal scenario (in terms of aways) with trips to sizeable grounds and more than likely low home crowds at Inter, Sociedad and Lech Poznan. The doomsday scenario would probably be Villareal, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Estoril.

Champions League teams – In the group phase 10 losers from the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League play-off round enter the fray. In the last 32 they will be joined by the 8 third-placed teams from the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League group stage. Six teams who have dropped out of the ECL have gone onto win the Europa League; 12-13 Chelsea / 09-10 Atletico Madrid / 08-09 Shaktar Donetsk / 04-05 CSKA Moscow / 01-02 Feyenoord / 99-00 Galatasaray

New Picture (90)Club Brugge enter at the Third qualifying round. Their Jan Breydel stadium has a capacity of 29,473 and is just a short bus ride from the city centre. In their last outing in the competition Brugge only averaged only 16,833 per game, (13,000 less than capacity) so getting a seat in the home end won’t be a problem.

To get to brugge the Eurostar will take you from London StP to via Brussels in 3 and a bit hours. This hostel is ideal, its cheap, clean and has a nightclub in the basement. Plus, there is a nice cafe a few doors down which will do you a massive flemish stew for a couple of euros.

Beautiful Bruges

Beautiful Bruges

 

D – Dates (Group and beyond)

Match-day 1 – 18th sept
Match-day 2 – 2nd oct
Match-day 3 – 23rd oct
Match-day 4 – 6th nov
Match-day 5 – 27th nov
Match-day 6 – 11th dec
19/26th Feb 1st knockout round *Group-winners and the 4 best third-ranked in the Champions League group stage play the return leg at home – (DRAW 15TH DEC)
12/19th march 2nd knockout rounds (DRAW 15TH DEC)
16/23 april quarter finals (DRAW 20TH MAR)
7/14 may semi finals (DRAW 24TH APRIL)
27th may final

Potential EFC games impacted by Europa League 14/15

Group Stage

Crystal Palace (h)

Man Utd (a)

Burnley (a)

Sunderland (a)

Tottenham (a)

QPR (h)

Knockout

Leicester (h)

Arsenal (a)

Newcastle (h)

QPR (a)

Burnley (h)

Man Utd (h)

Sunderland (h)

West Ham (a)

 

The Khimki Stadium

The Khimki Stadium

New Picture (92)Dynamo Moscow (enter at Third Qualifying Round) Secured their place by virtue of a fourth placed finish in their domestic league this season. The Khimki Stadium holds 18,636 although their average crowd in the Russian league last season was 7,826 so tickets won’t be hard to come-by. Having recently visited I’d recommend this hotel – if there are 3 of you it works out around £30 per night and its a decent standard, centrally located for the metro, grounds and tourist places. For ale, I went to a few of the ones recommended on this from the Bar Chick website. On the pitch they are a direct,  long ball outfit who will look to swing in crosses and put opponents under an aerial bombardment. The focus of their approach is one time toffee target Kevin Kuranyi and they also have towering goon Chris Samba in their ranks. Former Man Utd left back Alex Buttner also joined their ranks in the summer but their key player is definitely Russian International midfielder Alex Kokorin.

Dinamo Zagreb is a 2 hour flight from Heathrow with Croatia’s national airline, costing around £200 round trip usually. Or you could be brave and train it – Seat61 suggest a 2 day trip  from London – Paris -Munich. Then  from Munich to Villach by Austrian EuroCity train before a simple cross-platform change onto the waiting Slovenian/Croatian/Serbian EuroCity train to Zagreb.

Dinamo Minsk is a 3 hour flight from Gatwick with Belavia Airways, a round trip usually costing around £300. The Belarus outift can also be reached via a 2 day train trip from London to Brussels  to Cologne, then onto Warsaw overnight on the EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura. On Day 2 travel overnight by sleeper train from Warsaw to Minsk. Their Traktar Stadium holds a modest 16,500.

Draw (for the group stage) takes place on the 29th August 2014

New Picture (95)E   – Ermis Aradippou are a Cypriot club based near Larnaca. Their ground The Ammochostos Stadium has a capacity of 5,500. Monarch fly direct from Manchester to Larnaca or you can fly to Pathos and drive the last 100km. Some good tips on budget hotels and hostel can be found here

 

New Picture (87)Estoril -4th placed finish last time round in Portugal’s top flight secured them an automatic berth in the group phase. Their stadium only holds 5,000 fans and is a 20 minute drive from Lisbon. Whatever you do, don’t stay in the Lisboa Bungalows as I did. Its shit. They finished 4th last season in their domestic championship and  5th in 12/13. Top scorer Evandro has since jumped ship to Porto and highly rated manager Marco Silva has moved on to Sporting. Keeper Vagner da Silva had a great season last time out, keeping 11 clean sheets, and he remains at the club. They didn’t win any of their 6 group games in the EL last season and would be an ideal opponent for us.

Everton’s European Record –  Tony Hibbert (20) is our all time record appearance holder in European football, although  Tim Howard (19) has more starts and only needs 1 more to surpass Colin Harvey’s record. In terms of goals,  Fred Pickering is still our leading scorer in European football with 6, with Steven Pienaar’s 3 the most of the current crop. In our only other venture into the rebranded Europa League we progressed through the group stage thanks to 3 wins in the group (we also lost 3). In the second phase we bowed out to Sporting 2-4 on aggregate.  In the previous regime of Moyes our European record was p26 W14 D3 L9,  a win % of 54%.

F – FlightsSky scanner is a pretty good site for securing minge bag flights.

New Picture (94)Fiorentina – Fourth placed team in Italy and slayers of the toffees a few years ago, with the away leg one of the wettest and most grimmest matches in living memory, not helped by over-zealous policing. Direct flights go from Liverpool Airport to Florence or for a cheaper deal go to Pisa and then train it. Or you can train it from London via the afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris (from £40), then jump on the overnight Thello sleeper train from Paris to Milan from just €35 including a couchette.  Change in Milan for a high-speed train to Florence.

Their attack will be spearheaded by ex Man United goal getter Giuseppe Rossi who weighed in with 16 goals last season and former Bayern monster Mario Gomez. In midfield Borja Valero is the creative hub along with £20m kopite Aquilani who will sit deeper in their midfield engine room. Columbian World Cup trickster Juan Cuadrado also players for these cats.

Feyenoord secured qualification for the EL but have since had to endure their annual squad shake down with key men Graziano Pelle (26 goals)  departed to Southampton and key defenders Martins Indi,Stefan de Vrij and Daryl Janmaat also been on the move to richer climbs. Attacking midfielder Jean-Paul Boëtius weighed in with 19 goals / assists last season and has been retained so will be the key threat, as will a whole host of new academy graduates from their seemingly endless pool of talent at Varkenoord. We met them once before in 1996 when they knocked us out of the ECW.

G – Group Phase (this is where we enter the tournament) ….A total of 48 teams play in the group stage: 7 teams which enter in this stage, the 31 winners from the play-off round, and the 10 losers from the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League play-off round. The 48 teams will be allocated into four pots based on their 2014 UEFA club coefficients, with the title holders being placed in Pot 1 automatically. They will be drawn into twelve groups of four, with the restriction that teams from the same association cannot be drawn against each other. In each group, teams will play against each other home-and-away in a round-robin format. The group winners and runners-up will advance to the round of 32.

Last year the highest points haul by a team in the group stage to not get through was 7 points, so 8+points from our first 12 available would be enough to qualify which should be a given in light of some of the dross sides that make up the numbers in the tournament. Its conceivable (and yes I know this is everton!) then that qualification  could be assured quite easily with 2 games to spare. This would give us more flexibility with personnel prior to the spurs and qpr games.

Guingamp (Enter at Group Stage) French cup winners who play at the Stade du Roudourou – a ground which holds 18,000 (last season’s league average gate 15,000). Seven hour train journey from London on the Eurostar or fly from Liverpool to Nantes and drive the remaining 2 hours. In the league they only avoided relegation by 2 points, having suffered  a meteoric demise having been 5th at one stage. They are quite reactive and recorded the third lowest possession share in their domestic league and also the most crosses in the division. Their current outfit includes ex Everton full back Lars Jacobsen, which speaks volumes. Some of their more famous ex players include Drogba, Koscielny and Malouda, but this is no such vintage

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I  – Internazionale (enter at Playoff stage)Probably the biggest name in Pot 1 is Inter Milan, who elder Blues will recall knocked us out of the European Cup in 1963. The current roster of The Nerazzurri is a far cry from the  treble winning crop of 2010 nor is it close to the all-star Vieri/Ronaldo vintage of the 90’s and 00’s. Indeed,  a glimpse at their best eleven shows how far they have sunk and in their last few excursions into the EL they’ve not exactly shown an appetite to succeed. Argentine World Cup forward Rodrigo Palacio (below) is their key man, weighing in with 17 goals and 7 assists last season. His countryman Ricky provided the main creative output whilst they have also recruited the likes of  Vidic, M’Vila and Osvaldo in the summer. The Milan behemoths qualified by virtue of a 5th placed finish. The San Siro holds 80,000 so shouldnt be problematic tickets wise. Ryanair fly direct from Manchester.  Alternatively you can train it from London via the afternoon Eurostar from London to Paris (from £40), then jump on the overnight Thello sleeper train from Paris to Milan from just €35 including a couchette.

Ironi Kiryat Shmona (enter at Third qualifying round). Capacity of the Municipal Stadium is 5,300 – they averaged a gate of 1,983 in their last Europa league campaign,  roughly 3,000 down on the capacity. Its located in the North District of Israel on the western slopes of the Hula Valley on the Lebanese border. Logistics wise this could be a tricky one. flying to Beirut could be a goer with Pegasus Airlines flying from London Stansted.

New Picture (89)K  – Kyiv (Dynamo) – Ukrainian cup winners. Home ground is named after their celebrated ex boss the ‘Valeriy Lobanovskyi’ Dynamo Stadium and holds 16,800. For the big games they use NSC Olimpiyskiy Ground which holds 70,000. Airfrance fly from Manchester to Kiev with 1 stop off in Paris or go direct with BA from Heathrow.  Hotel Opera is a smart place to stay in Kiev, but not cheap. The Khreschatyk (think adelphi) is right in the thick of things (and has it’s own casino) for those on a tighter budget. Dynamo Kiev have got out of the group phase in 3 of their last 4 EL excursions, with their best performance being in 2011 when they were defeated by Braga in the quarters. Key man Andriy Yarmalenko is their most famous current player with the chief goal threat coming from Dieudonne “Brzi” Mbokani Bezua.

L

New Picture (98)Lech Poznan enter at the Second Qualifying round stage,  although have succumbed in the qualifiers in each of the last two seasons. Poznan’s ground was renovated for the Euro’s and now holds 43,269  – which basically means tickets will be quite easy to come-by. Ryanair fly direct from Liverpool although it’ll probably be cheaper to fly from London with the same carrier or Wizz Air, both of whom fly direct. If you fancy training it, take the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then hop onto the  Cologne ICE train. Finally,  take the cheapo EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura from Cologne that arrives in Poznan at 09:30 the following morning. In terms of boozers, this lowdown by Lonely Planet is pretty decent and worth a read through.

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Legia Warsaw  – Jan Mucha’s old club, Polish champions last season are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League and will more than likely end up in Pot 4 of the Europa League. They play their home games in the Polish Army Stadium (also known as the Pepsi Stadium) which has a capacity of 31,103. Their crowds for last season’s Europa League were appalling, on average only filling a third of the stadium (10,139) so this would be an easy one ticket wise. Wizz Air flys to Warsaw but flights are few and far between. Alternatively you could train it; take the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then hop onto the  Cologne ICE train. Finally,  take the cheapo EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura from Cologne which arrives in Warsaw at 12.15 the following morning. They won their league at a canter by 10 points and demolished Celtic in the qualifier before the result was overturned due to them fielding an ineligible player. Their Serbian winger Miroslav Radović was top scorer with 14 last season and they also have Vladimir “Lado” Dvalishvili  a Georgian forward who also got 10 goals. Their set piece expert is Tomasz Brzyski who got 10 assists in their championship season. Last time in the EL they  finished last in a crud group in 13/14

New Picture (92)Lille – Stade Pierre Mauroy holds 50,000 and Lille generally pull in a crowd of between 30-40,000. It’s very easy to get to with the Eurostar from London only taking a few hours from the north, or you can fly from Manchester to Brussels with Ryanair and train / drive the last 60miles. You could alternatively drive it in about 8 hours from the UK. Whilst Lille qualified for the Champions League qualifiers the more likely outcome is they end up in the Europa, and given their impressive co-efficient they’d drop into Pot 1 so could be in the same group as us.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 whilst £10m libepewl signing Origi got 6. They have good stock having been Champions in 2011 and having qualified for the ECL in 2012 during the days of Eden Hazard.

New Picture (93)Lokeren (enter at Playoff stage) Belgian cup winners – their ground has a capacity of 9,560. Its a 45 minute drive from Brussels. Finished 5th in last season’s Jupiler League and possess the league’s golden boot winner in Tunisian ‘hitman’ Hamdi Harbaoui who plundered an impressive 22 league goals last time round. They narrowly lost in the play off to the very competent Plzen last season but I reckon they will have a bit too much for Hull when the sides meet next week.

New Picture (88)Lokomotiv Moscow (enter at Playoff) finished 3rd in the Russian top flight. Capacity of the shiny new Lokomotiv stadium is 28,000  although their average gate in the league last season was only 12,000. Lokomotiv are a defensively well drilled side who finished 5 points off the winners CSKA in last season’s title rice. Ex Chelsea and Arsenal midfield loon Lassana Diarra is an extremely erratic tackler, sent off twice in his first batch of games after moving to Russia and he could be partnered by ex toffee snake Manual Fernandes in midfield. In 11/12 they got out of the group but succumbed to Bilbao on goal difference in the second phase. Hapless mono paced ex toffee winger ‘Billy’ used to turn out for them

Ludogorets Razgrad – Bulgarian dark horses who would cause us problems on the pitch and off it. Getting back from there could be a real challenge – the nearest international airport is 50 miles away in Romania! You can fly from the Henri Coanda Airport to London with Wizz Airways but the flights are not frequent so you may have to take a pit stop along the way for an 85p pint of Zagorka. Their ground only holds 6,000 so expect a scramble to get tickets in the away end. Since promotion they’ve won the league 3 seasons on the spin and  last season in the EL they topped their group and knocked out Lazio in the 2nd round before bowing out in last 16. Slovenian forward Roman Bezjak was their top scorer last time round which included 6 goals in 7 EL games.

New Picture (94)Lyon (enter at Third qualifying round) Finished 5th in France’s top flight last season. Their stadium holds 40,000 and is 5 1/2 hours on the Eurostar from London. Alternatively fly with Easyjet from Liverpool via Geneva.Should we get them in the group, tickets for this one will be hard to come by – Lyon had one of the highest average crowds (29,045) in last seasons competition. A decent pub crawl can be generated on the Bar Chick website, which is usually pretty good at recommending the better places to head to for a beer. Olympique Lyon are one of the stellar names in the tournament and are very much a thoroughbred in European competitions. Last season they finished 28 points off the pace in ligue 1, leading to a 6th place finish and the sacking of coach Remi Garde.  Replaced by Hubert Fournier, the new boss still has  15 goal top scorer Alexandre Lacazette (1 in 4 career ratio)  and chief creator Henri Bedimo however Bafétimbi Gomis who got 14 goals last time round has moved to Swansea.

Maccabi Tel Aviv successfully retained their Israeli title last season, winning the league by 7 points. Top league scorer  Eran Zahavi bagged 29 goals and will be their main threat.

Malmo – Likely to go into Pot 4 if as expected they go out of the ECL Playoff draw. Its only a short train journey from Copenhagen so fly there with easyjet and then do ‘The Bridge’ across to Malmo.European Cup runners up in 1979, Malmo’s ex players include Ibrahimovic and Litmanen, but there are few such stars in their current roster. Winger /forward Markus Rosenberg had a rubbish spell at West Brom but has sparkled in a less challenging league – he’s the division’s top creator with 10 assists. The goal threat will come from him and forward Guillermo Mollins

New Picture (92)Maribor’s ground holds a capacity of just under 13,000 with an average gate last season’s competition of 9,465 so tickets will be hard to get hold of. Based in Slovenia, Adria Airways fly from Manchester to ljubljana. Or you can take the train to Germany (London>Paris>Munich) and then go from Munich to Villach ( near the Austrian-Slovenian border)  At Villach it’s a simple cross-platform change onto the waiting Slovenian/Croatian/Serbian EuroCity train to Ljubljana. There are regular direct trains from Ljubljana to Maribor that take 2 to 3 hours depending on the service. NK Maribor have won their domestic league 12 times  and are a decent outfit with a rampant attacking trio all of whom got into double figures last season. Bosnian Nusmir Fajić (16) Frenchman Mendy (14) and Brazilian tavares (13) bagged a colossal 43 goals between them. They also got out of the group phase last time, albeit in a poor pool that included Wigan, before narrowly losing to eventual winners Sevilla in the 2nd round

New Picture (93)Metalist Kharkiv (enter at Playoff stage) Ukranian outfit who we visited a few years ago. Finished 3rd in their domestic league last time out. Capacity of their ground is 40,000. In 12/13 metalist averaged 37,857 in the Europa league from their 4 games which was the sixth highest so tickets could be tricky to come by.You can either fly direct from London or fly to Kiev / Moscow and train the remainder. Trains are incredibly cheap to ride on – infact they’re the second cheapest in Europe behind Georgia and the cheapest in Europe in terms of coach travel. The Kharkiv club qualified from the EL groups in their  last 3 attempts, getting to the quarters once. Perennially the bridesmaids in the Ukraine league, they have never finished outside top 3 in the last 8 seasons but have never took the title. They are also weakened by last season’s top scorer Marko Devich defecting to Rubin Kazan in Russia

Midtjylland (enter at Playoff stage) Danish 3rd placed side with a 12.000 capacity. Fly in-direct with SAS to Billund (via Oslo) and then drive / train the remainder. Alternatively fly to Aarhus (although its a bit more £££)

Nacional (enter at playoff stage ) Portuguese 5th placed side. Capacity of their ground is a limited 5,000. You can fly direct to Madeira from Manchester with Jet2.Cristiano Ronaldo’s old club are an established top half Portuguese side who will provide a decent test albeit they shouldn’t have the tools to really worry us. Venezuelan Rondon (not the one we tried to sign) is a good goalscorer for them and could do a job against the tournament’s weaker defences. They have been in the EL on two previous occasions, both ending in elimination at the group stage with just 3 wins from the 12 games played.

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Napoli – Last season I was lucky enough to take in a game at the San Paulo with some pals and it was a great trip. We stayed in a fairly basic hotel near to the train station (Hotel Ideal) which worked out to around 15 quid each per night. There is no train route from the Airport so bus or taxi is your best option. There is a train that runs from the centre of town to the ground though should you wish to take it. Eating and drinking was v cheap if you like pizza – we went to plenty but the best one was Da Michele – we went on Monday morning at 11am and the queue was right around the block.

Partizan's fans 'The Grobari' (The Grave Diggers)

Partizan’s fans ‘The Grobari’ (The Grave Diggers)

New Picture (99)Partizan Belgrade are nicknamed ‘The Steamrollers’ and finished 2nd in the Serbian league last season meaning they enter at the 2nd qualifying stage. Wizz air fly direct to Belgrade from Luton or you can train it going from London > Paris> Munich, then overnight sleeper to Zagreb and then finally hop on the 6 hour Belgrade train. Their stadium holds 32,710. The last time they competed in the Europa League their average gate was 22,830. Likely to be in Pot 4 if they get through to the group stage. They lost their domestic championship by a point to Red Star last season. Sala ilic is their 36 year old  captain with the goal threat coming from  6ft 4inch monster   Petar Škuletić who was both last season’s top scorer (11 goals) and  main creator (9 assists).

Romanian side Petrolul impressed in the last round with a 4-1 win at FC Viktoria Plzeň (who were expected to go into Pot 2)  to take the tie 5-2 on aggregate. One of the goals came from their controversial skipper Adrian Mutu, formerly of Chelsea and Fiorentina. They have a tough match up against Dynamo Zagreb in the playoff but given the momentum from the Plzen game I fancy them to win through.

PAOK (enter at Playoff stage) Greek outfit who finished 3rd in their domestic championship. Capacity of the stadium is 28,704. In last seasons competition they only pulled in 12,587 per game on average so nabbing a seat in the home end won’t be difficult. Easyet fly direct from Manchester to Thessaloniki.

Prize Money   – A group stage participation in the Europa League awards a base fee of €1.3 million. A victory in the group pays €200,000 and a draw €100,000. Also, each group winner earns €400,000 and each runner-up €200,000. Reaching the knock-out stage triggers additional bonuses: €200,000 for the round of 32, €350,000 for the round of 16, €450,000 for the quarter-finals and €1 million for the semi-finals. The losing finalists receive €2.5 million and the champions get €5 million.

  • Base fee for group stage: €1,300,000
  • Group match victory: €200,000
  • Group match draw: €100,000
  • Group winners: €400,000
  • Group runners-up: €200,000
  • Round of 32: €200,000
  • Round of 16: €350,000
  • Quarter-finals: €450,000
  • Semi-finals: €1,000,000
  • Losing finalist: €2,500,000
  • Winners: €5,000,000New Picture (82)

PSV (Third qualifying round) Dutch heavyweights who finished 4th this season. Ground capacity is 35,000 however last season PSV averaged only 15,000 per game in the europa, so getting a seat in the home end won’t be a problem. Trains from Amsterdam to Eindhoven depart every 30 mins with a journey time of 1hr 20 mins or fly from Manchester to Eindhoven with Ryanair.

PSV reached the 1/4 finals of the Europa League (EL)  in 2011 and the round of 16 in 2012 but just as their league form has withered in the recent years so has their form in the EL, failing to progress from average groups in 2013 and 2014.Their hopes will rest with  on keeping hold of Dutch International Memphis Depay who weighed in with 12 goals and seven assists last season. Luuk de Jong – once touted as the next top Dutch ‘number nine’ during his FC Twente days – has also joined after a disappointing spell at Newcastle United which yielded 0 goals.

New Picture (83)R  – Real Sociedad (enter at Third qualifying round) 7th placed in la liga was enough to qualify the San Sebastien outfit. Potentially an immense awayday. Capacity 32,200. Fly to Bilbao or alternatively fly/Eurostar from UK to Paris then catch the train to Hendaye on the Spanish frontier by high-speed TGV, leaving Paris Montparnasse > Hendaye.   Then travel from Hendaye to San Sebastian by Euskotren.  Train time from Hendaye to San Sebastian Amara station is 37 minutes. Real Sociedad were 4th last season in La Liga but have since lost key man Antoine Griezmann to Athletico. Mexican ex Arsenal man Carlos Vela was top scorer and top creator with 16 goals and 12 assists last season and has stuck around while left back Jose Angel is also a solid performer.After a 10 year exile from European football they returned to the ECL last season however they lost 5 of their 6 games and finished bottom of their group. They also struggled to defeat Aberdeen in the qualifier this week.

Rio Ave (enter at Third qualifying round) Portuguese cup runners up. Capacity of their ground is a limited 12,815. Its a 20 minute drive from Porto airport which can be reached directly from Liverpool. Finished a lowly 11th in their domestic league last season, just 8 points off the bottom and not much is expected of them this time round. They’re a physical side and pulled in the most yellow cards (109) in their domestic league last season

Rostov(enter at Playoff stage) Russian cup winners with their ground holding a capacity of 15,840 – their average gate in the Russian league last season was 11,545. Fly to Moscow with Easyjet, then get one of the Russian minge bag carriers (Ural or Transaero) to take you the remainder to Rostov.

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New Picture (96)Rapid Wien(enter at Playoff stage) Secured second place in the Austrian championship this time round. Capacity of the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium is 17,500 although for the Europa games they often switch the matches to the larger Ernst-Happel-Stadion. This ground is more than double the size with a 50,000 capacity  – their average for games in the Europa last time out was 34,499  which was one of the highest in the tournament. Fly from Liverpool to Bratislava then catch a 1.5 hour train to Vienna. Frommer’s advise that the average price of a beer is 4 euro and  that you are best heading to  1516 (www.1516brewingcompany.com) for homebrewed beers; 7 Sterne Bräu (www.7stern.at) for seasonal Viennese non-filtered varieties; the 17th-century Gösser Bierklinik (www.goesser-bierklinik.at) for Bräu Union beers and Bermuda Bräu (www.bermuda-braeu.at) for traditional local draughts. Rapid, the side we defeated in the ECW final in 1985, have decent pedigree; they’ve been in the EL group stage 4 times but never won through to the knockout stage. Ex players include majestic Milan forward Dejan Savicevic, bearded loon Trifon Ivanov and of course Hans Krankl who also managed the club for a spell.

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Sevilla – Europa League winners in 2014, their stadium has a sizeable capacity of 40,000 – ideal for match day 1. Direct flights go from Manchester or fly to Malaga and do the remaining 100 miles by train or car. I’d recommend this hotel In the close season they lost their key player with Croatian Ivan Rakitic – who slotted 12 goals and 10 assists last season – jumping ship to Barca. They still have Gameiro and rumoured toffee target Bacca in their attack – the duo bagged 29 goals between them last year.

Sevilla's delightful Alcazar

Sevilla’s delightful Alcazar

Sivasspor (enter at Third qualifying round) Capacity is limited to 14,998. Turkish Airways fly from Manchester with a stop off in Istanbul. Currently managed by Roberto Carlos.

Saint-Étienne (enter at Playoff stage) Fourth placed finish in their domestic league this season secured their place in the playoffs. Ground holds 35,000 and is a 7 Hour journey from London on the Eurostar. Last season’s exploits were achieved in no small part to Turkish forward Melvut Erding who was Les Verts top scorer with 11 goals. The club’s finest hour in Europe was in 1976 when they finished runners up in the European Cup.

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Sheriff Tiraspol –  Local airline Air Moldova fly to Chisinau from Stansted in the UK or alternatively fly to Bucharest (Whizz air from Luton). From Bucharest get the train to Chişinău on the Prietenia sleeper train, leaving Bucharest Nord at 19:40, calling at Ungheni (the Moldovan frontier) from 05:02 until 06:47 and arriving at Chişinău at 08:52. Most eastbound trains from Chisinau to Ukraine/Russia stop in Tiraspol. There are seven daily trains to Chisinau ($0.90, 2½ hours), three to  Odesa ($2, 2½ hours), two to Moscow ($31, 25 to 31 hours) and Minsk ($23, 23 hours) and one to St Petersburg ($28, 35 hours). Their ground holds 14.300 (average in last season’s Europa League was 7,273) and they will likely go into pot 4 of the Europa in the likely event that they go out of the Champions League 3rd qualifying round. Sheriff  are Moldovan Champions and represent a decent well drilled outfit; they are organised, very tight at the back and gave Spurs a solid test last season. Top scorer in their domestic league was Henrique Luvannor, a Brazilian-Moldovan who racked up 22 goals. In recent years they have beaten more illustrious opponents like Dynamo Kiev and Dynamo Zagreb, so they are a legitimate dark horse.

Slovan Liberec  enter at the second qualifying round stage and are based around 50 miles from Prague. Buses depart Prague from the  Černý -most metro station, the terminus station on the yellow line (B) up to 25 times per day with Student Agency. Dopravní podnik města Liberce also operates a bus service from the same station –  journey time is 1 hour 5 minutes.There is no direct train from Prague and it takes twice as long than the bus. Supposedly there is a decent pub as you arrive at the stadium which is worth popping in for a pre match ale. In terms of attendances, their capacity is 10,000 and in last season’s Europa League they pulled in 7,899 on average per game so tickets could be tricky to come-by.

Slovan Bratislava Slovakian side likely to be in Pot 4 if they come through the playoffs. You can get there from Stansted with Ryanair. Last season’s Slovakian Champions  Bratislava won their domestic league at a canter by 12 points last season. The club have a bruise brothers strike duo in the shape of Robert Vittek and Pavel Fort, both of whom are six footers and got into double figures last season. Their best showing in the EL was in 2012 when they finished bottom of the group with just 1 point, so not very good then.

Squad Size / Regulations 

(i) Martinez can register no more than 25 players for participation in the Europa League, two of whom must be goalkeepers – likely to be Howard and Robles

(ii) 8 places are reserved exclusively for “locally trained players.” This means that 8 of the 25 registered, regardless of nationality, must have been trained in England for 3 years or 36 months between the ages of 15 and 21.  So Baines, Gibson, McCarthy, Osman, & Stones would fit into this description. The “association-trained players” have to be registered with an English club for at least 3 years or 36 months, but not necessarily consecutively. Also, no fewer than 4 of those “locally trained players” must be “club-trained players,” which means they must have trained at the club for 3 years or 36 months consecutively between the ages of 15 and 21 ( so add Barkley, Osman & Hibbert)

(iii) Martinez can register unlimited “List B” players, and they may be registered at any time during the competition provided names are submitted at least 24 hours before any game they can appear in. “List B” players are those that are under 21 and have been training with the club for at least 2 years or 24 months consecutively. These players do not count towards the requirement of the 8 “locally-trained players.” So that would be the likes of Browning & Ledson

(iv) Martinez can make changes in January (three replacement players) and they must take the place of another previously registered player. Also, he can register one player who has played for a club in the UEFA Champions League in the group stages, provided the club he purchases from has not dropped into the Europa League knockout stages.  He can also register players who have not competed in the Europa League group stages, but have competed in the previous rounds.

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Tickets  – You can  make a decent judgement on how hard its going to be to get tickets for the aways by looking at the capacity / average gates noted on these pages. At a push there is always the ticket exchange sites like Viagogo and StubHub although they will charge a fair wedge in terms of mark up on the listed prices. For the final, this season the respective sides got 9,000 tickets each (around 20% of the capacity) so with Warsaw’s 58,000 capacity its going to be more like 12,000 each . Alternatively you can enter Uefa’s ballot via their online portal with tickets priced between 45 and 150 Euro’s.  Uefa’s ballot opened this year on the 27th Feb.

Torino enter at the playoff stage. They play on the site of the former Comunale, renamed Stadio Olimpico di Torino, or simply, Stadio Olimpico. It has a capacity of 28,140 seats, 38,000 less than the original Comunale (in accordance with modern safety standards), and has hosted all Torino home games since 2006. Last season’s average league gate was just 17,000. The club are based in Piedmont so fly to Milan and train or drive the remaining 100km.

They rather fortuitously qualified for the EL after Parma were turfed out of the competition due to tax issues. Even then they only crawled over the line by virtue of a marginally better goal difference than Milan. Top scorer Immobile has buggered off to Dortmund so goal scoring responsibility will rest with key creative spark Allecio Cerci – rumoured to be in Martinez tractor beam – who scored and created freely last year

Trainsthis site is worth bookmarking, as is this one which gives great tips on suggested routes and ticket deals.

Twente (enter at Playoff stage) Dutch outfit whose ground holds 30,000. In their last outing in the Europa in 12/13 Twente only averaged only 19,773 per game which is 10,000 down on capacity so getting a seat in the home end won’t be a problem. The city itself is just two hours on the train from Amsterdam or you can get the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and then train the remainder. This post from European Football Weekends gives a good flavour of what to expect,  but be warned, the home team come out to the tune of You’ll never walk alone

Dutch Champions in 2010 under Steve McLaren Twente begin the season weaker following the defection of top player Tadic to Southampton – the schemer either scored or assisted 30 goals in a vintage campaign last season. He has been replaced by highly rated Kasper Kusk and they also  have the dangerous forward Castaignos in their ranks who got 14 goals last season. They  are a  formidable opponent at home, impressively going the whole of last season without losing on their own turf.

Trabzonspor (enter at Playoff stage) 24,000 capacity ground. Last season Trabzonspur only averaged only 15,298 per game, (just under 9,000 short of 24,000 capacity) so getting a seat in the home end won’t be a problem. Turkish Airlines fly from Manchester via Istanbul.

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Villarreal (playoff) – 6th placed team in Spain, a mission to get to – for flights go via Valencia. Stadium capacity is 24,890. Villarreal have made a comeback since relegation a few years ago and finished 6th last term, albeit 31 points behind champions Athletico Madrid. Nigerian striker Ucho and Giovani Dos Santos were their top scoring duo although the real key men were probably Argentine defender Mateo Musacchio  and midfield general Bruno

Visas (Russia) Budget £100 and get them sorted early as can take 2 months to process. Online app takes around 40mins to complete.

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Warsaw – The Stadion Narodowy is the location for the final (Also see ‘T’ for tickets)

Wolfsburg (Enter at Group Stage) 5th placed team in Germany last season. The VW Stadium holds 30,000. Fly to Berlin then catch a 2 hour train to Wolfsburg. Inside the ground the ‘Nordkurvensaal’ pub serves Wittingers and Stackmann’s complete with novelty bendy glass. Entrance wise, the match tickets are as cheap as 15 euros. In terms of further reading, EFW have done a good review of the matchday experience here.

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Young Boys (enter at Third qualifying round) ground has a 32,000 capacity. Last season Young Boys averaged only 22,798 per game, (just under 10,000 short of the capacity) so getting a seat in the home end may be a problem. Fly to Basel from Manchester / London Gatwick direct with Easyjet, then its a 1 hr drive. Anders Limpar’s old club reached the second round in 2011 and represent a capable outfit. Their top scorer last season was 20 year old Swiss youth international Michael Fray and he will probably be the main man to watch if he remains at the club.

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Zwolle (PEC) (enter at playoff stage) Dutch outfit with a stadium capacity of 12,500. Its a 1hr 30 min train journey from Amsterdam. You can fly to Amsterdam from pretty much every credible airport in UK, with Leeds Bradford flying daily to the Dutch capital.

Zurich (Playoff) Swiss cup winners, their ground has a 25,000 capacity. Direct flight from Manchester with Swiss Air or from London Luton / Gatwick with Easyjet.  Alternatively it’s quite straight forward to train it from London to Basel or Zurich.  Take Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord in just 2 hours 20 minutes, then a direct TGV-Lyria high-speed train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Basel in 3 hours 03 minutes or Paris to Zurich in 4 hours 03 minutes.  London to Basel or Zurich starts at £62 one-way, £115 return, city centre to city centre, no baggage fees, no check-in fees, no extra to pay to travel to and from airports. The 12 times Swiss league winners  played in the ECL in 09/10, beating Milan on the way and have qualified for EL in 2 of the last 3 seasons, albeit they have never been past the group phase.

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3 thoughts on “Europa League 14/15

  1. Icelandic teams FH,Fram and Stjarnan all enter Q1. Games would probably be played at Laugardalsvollur in Reykjavik. Best place before and after the game Ölver/Wembley in Glaesibaer within walking distance of the ground. Cheap flights by WOW air’

  2. What a great piece of work, Well done! BTW the last time I was in Kiev British Unfairways were doing direct flights from Heathrow. Don’t know if that’s still the case. The Ukraine national airline is one to be avoided I gather. Hotel Opera is a smart place to stay in Kiev, but not cheap. The Khreschatyk is right in the thick of things (and has it’s own casino) for those on a tighter budget. It’s OK and reminded me a bit of the Adelphi. Note my room looked absolutely NOTHING like those on it’s website!

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