Archive of Europa League football trips from Abroad Red, featuring 11 trips since 2016.
Europe’s second-tier club competition, one we’ve dropped in and out of in recent years, became the final trophy for United to win, completing the full set with victory in the 2017 Europa League final. Though it doesn’t feature the high profile teams and cities of the Champions League, there are often more exciting trips to unfamiliar countries in Europe.
Find out more about travelling to Europa League games.
The knockout stages are what cup competitions are all about. The intensity of each tie really steps up as only the best teams remain, with a win taking you that bit closer to the final. After a slightly shaky start United qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with a final group game win in Odessa. Following what was for once rightly dubbed the ‘group of death’, with some long trips and and intense situations, United were treated to a match much closer to home; Saint-Etienne, France’s most successful football team.
Across a season of European football I usually get to all but one of United’s games on the continent. Whilst I’d love to travel every time it really comes down to a cost and time-off-work decision between two of the three group games; this year I opted for the match against Zorya Luhansk ahead of a return to Istanbul for Fenerbahce.
With the 2015/16 season ending in a disappointing 5th placed finish alongside an overdue cup final win, it meant United were once again bound for the Europa League. Winning the competition would guarantee entry to next years Champions League, a feat we couldn’t manage after being knocked out last season by Liverpool, though of course we’d hope for at least a top 4 finish this year. This season has started well (defeat to City aside) with Mourinho and exciting new signings largely looking good, whilst the first taste of European football takes us to Feyenoord in Rotterdam.
With this summers European Championships in France, a trip to China and an early start to the season with the Community Shield at Wembley, it’s felt like football hasn’t really stopped this year. For some teams in Europe it basically didn’t. Whilst the draw for the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage took place on Friday, the tournament actually started 2 months ago for those in the 1st qualifying round at the end of June. Should any of those teams manage to make it all the way to the final, due to be hosted at Sweden’s Friends Arena in Solna, Stockholm, they’ll have been playing in the Europa League for 11 months. It’s no wonder the competition is considered so gruelling by many.
It was with a bit of a whimper that the 2015/16 European season ended against Liverpool, a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford not enough to turn around the defeat at Anfield. After being knocked down into the Europa League I’d come round to idea of a potential final in Basel, Switzerland, but it was not to be. Even more frustrating was that our conquerors were drawn to play Borussia Dortmund, a place I’ve longed to visit with United at their impressive Westfalenstadion.
From time to time, cup competitions can throw up a prize draw. After a slightly more convincing home leg against FC Midtjylland, United made it through to the last 16 of the Europa League. This made 15 potential opponents in the draw, being made less than 24 hours after the game on Thursday night with the tie to be played mid-March, the first leg just two weeks later. This aspect of knockout football is what brings much of the adrenaline to following United in Europe. Just two weeks to book flights, accommodation and plan a trip to the continent.
After the misery of being knocked out of the Champions League group stages for the second time in 4 seasons, there were few positives to be taken from another humbling appearance in the Europa League, certainly not in the immediate aftermath of the defeat in Wolfsburg. This competition does, however, offer up new opposition and destinations; 2012 brought an attractive tie in Amsterdam which saw thousands of United fans make the trip (or excuse for a visit to the Dam) as well as a further game in Bilbao. Nonetheless, the footballing Gods decided that instead of a repeat of one of those more glamorous ties, United would be faced with a trip to one of the smallest teams in the competition, FC Midtjylland of Herning, Denmark.