Archive of Champions League football trips from Abroad Red, featuring 10 trips since 2015.
After a fairly regular period of appearances in Europe’s more prestigious cup competition, the post-Fergie years have been less kind to United, with a number of seasons spent battling out in the Europa League. We’ve been reacquainted with Europe’s top clubs and trips to the bigger capital cities on the continent under Mourinho and now Ole, and hope to compete again with the best.
Find out more about travelling to Champions League games.
Given almost the entire 2020/21 season was played without fans in the grounds we’ll be forgiven for not being able to recall it well in years to come. The final home fixtures of the Premier League season were the first to be open to supporters, however missing out on one of just 10,000 tickets in the ballot meant the match against Villarreal was my first United game since March 2020. Despite being a European final it was somewhat subdued by continued Covid-restrictions and a 25% capacity crowd, the above shot being the moment prior to kick-off. Defeat on penalties completed an anti-climatic season and also robbed us of the exciting prospect of a Super Cup final in Belfast in August.
First off, it feels a little redundant to preview a season which is clouded in uncertainty, and where it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to attend matches until 2021, but this is just the state of the world attempting to live with Covid-19.
Five months ago, Monday 17th December, United had just lost 3-1 away at Liverpool leaving them 19 points off the top of the league and 11 points from the top 4. With a goal difference of 0 and PSG to come in the Champions League there was little expectation that anything would be salvaged from the season. This was a view a shared by the board, as Mourinho’s sacking was announced a day later.
Following the late drama in Paris we were into the quarter final draw of the Champions League. It’s the real business end of the tournament; with it comes the big names, and they don’t come much bigger than Barcelona. Although domestic rivals Real Madrid have won the trophy for the past three seasons, Barcelona added their fifth title in 2015, having also defeated United in the ’09 and ’11 finals.
There’s often talk about the ‘romance’ of football, whether it’s an underdog turning over a giant in a cup game or simply remembering elements of a club’s history – such as Ole’s return to United and back to attractive, attacking football! What better then, than a trip to Paris, a city synonymous with romance and a chance to show what we’re about against the superstars of Paris Saint-Germain.
A December game in Spain is always welcome; sat in the sun and 20 degrees certainly beats the sub-zero conditions of Ukraine or Denmark at this time of year. Our final group game in this seasons Champions League would be at Valencia, Spain’s third largest city and United’s third most faced team from the country too. Our last trip there was for the 2010 group stage match, one of my earlier trips, memorable for a last minute winner from Hernandez whilst a young Juan Mata lined up against us.
Growing up watching United in the 90’s has always meant that Italy holds a certain prestige for me. From highlights on Football Italia to European matches against the big Italian teams; Inter & AC Milan, Fiorentina and the opponent we used to face so regularly, Juventus. Whilst we haven’t visited Turin for over 15 years they’re certainly still top dogs in Italy, with a record 34 domestic league titles, including the last 7 in a row, and appearances in 2 of the last 4 European cup finals.
The city of Madrid is synonymous with the European Cup & Champions League; Real have won it a record 13 times (including the last 3 and first 5 in the late 50’s) whilst Atletico have been runners up 3 times, the two clubs have also faced each other in 2 of the last 5 finals (as well as this season’s Super Cup). This year the match will be hosted at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, which has been home to Atletico Madrid since 2017.
Now that the dust has settled on another European season it’s time for me to reflect on this year’s travels in the Champions League. Unlike the previous 2 seasons it was spent solely in the top tier of European football, and the for the first time in 4 years we made it to the knock out rounds. In United’s continued period of transition it represented progress, even if it was ultimately uninspiring, ending with the defeat at Old Trafford to Sevilla.
For the first time in 4 years United made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, with 5 wins from 6 in a relatively straightforward group. Changes to the group seeding in recent years meant that finishing top still left us open to drawing a strong 2nd placed team, including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus. Thankfully though we were paired with a new opponent and a trip to Seville.