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A quick guide to football in European Countries

Published June 19th, 2013

Fancy yourself a bit of a football nut? You’ve got your scarf, you’ve packed your Eurail pass –now where do you go to watch some top-class European action? Well, stick with Student Flights because when it comes to picking out the best European countriesin which to watch football, we’ve got you covered.

 

Germany

Want to pay through the nose to be told to sit down as a one-sided clash plays out in front of a sterile stadium? Then head straight for the English Premier League. However, if you’re looking to have some real fun, make Germany the first stop on your European football tour.

 

Germany’s beloved Bundesliga is Europe’s best-attended football league and it’s not hard to see why. Cheap tickets, safe standing terraces and some of Europe’s most attacking teams make your average Bundesliga game a rollercoaster of emotions.  From Borussia Dortmund’s awe-inspiring Westfalenstadion to SC Freiburg’s atmospheric Black Forest home and the intimidating support on offer at clubs like Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich, watching a game in Germany is an absolute must.

 

Spain

If you know your tiki-taka and your ‘false nines,’ then Spain is the destination for you. La Liga may be dominated by Spain’s big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid – who have been slugging it out in the politically-charged El Clásico for more than a hundred years – but there are plenty of other reasons to visit the home of technical and tactical football.

 

Nowadays Spain is undoubtedly Europe’s most technically proficient football nation. Between 2008 and 2012, the Spanish national team collected a lazy two European Championships and one World Cup – built around a core of outrageously talented Barcelona and Real Madrid players. However, there’s more to Spanish football than just the big two and football in Spain is inextricably linked to its convoluted national politics. Clubs like Espanyol, Atletico Madrid and the Basque sides Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad have never been shy about wearing their various political allegiances on their jersey sleeves, making Spain a fascinating destination for curious football fans.

 

Italy

In years gone by, watching football in Europe was a somewhat risky affair. The scourge of hooliganism was rife during the 1980s and while it has largely been eradicated across the continent, Italy lags behind the rest of Europe when it comes to providing safe spectator environments.

 

That doesn’t mean you should avoid the country altogether, but keep your wits about you if you choose to attend a Serie A game. While Italy hosted the World Cup as recently as 1990, many of its grounds are crumbling throwbacks to bygone eras. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of reasons to visit one of the spiritual homes of European football. Perhaps the most obvious is the majestic Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan. Better known as San Siro after the district it’s located in, this 80,000-capacity behemoth is a veritable cathedral of the round-ball game. Italy’s most popular club Juventus has belatedly lead the way in terms of building modern stadia, opening its 41,000-capacity Juventus Stadium in September 2011.

 

UEFA Champions League

A combination of timing, luck and some decidedly deep pockets could have you watching what many believe is the best football competition in the world. From humble beginnings as the European Cup in the 1950s, the UEFA Champions League has transformed into a juggernaut of world sport.

 

Featuring the best clubs from around Europe, this midweek continental competition is regarded as offering a higher standard of football than even the World Cup. Dominated by Europe’s four biggest leagues – Germany, England, Spain and Italy – long gone are the days when clubs like Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade had a genuine chance of being crowned European champions. That shouldn’t stop you trying to secure a ticket to a Champions League game – somewhere, anywhere in Europe! – for no other reason than to watch the best football this planet has to offer.

 

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.