Tomorrow afternoon Sky Sports News will cross live to UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland for a protracted, drawn out affair which will decide who will play who in it’s showpiece competition The Champions League.
Pundits, former players, club officials and experts will discuss the difficultly of the opposition, talk about the great games that they’ll beam live around the world and the superstars on show at the click of a button. They’ll inevitably bring up Istanbul (despite Liverpool not having qualified), Moscow and Barcelona in ‘99.
Elsewhere, in West London and Manchester far more serious discussions will be taking place about the same draw. However, the football will be the last thing on anyone’s mind, instead the talk will be of Ryanair flights, what on earth the Romanian currency is (it’s the Lei) and the relative price of booze.
For with the Champions League draw comes the European away, a chance to escape the monotony of day to day life by fucking off to the continent for a couple of nights and seeing parts of the world you’d never visit otherwise(how many people do you know who’ve been to Russia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania?). Drinking beers you can’t pronounce with your pals in a town square of a small city in another country on the other side of Europe and failing to pull a foreign bird the night before the game instead of failing to pull an English bird back home.
The European trips are the pinnacle of following your team away, they makes losing on a miserable Monday in Middlesbrough worth it and give meaning to being bored in Bolton or wet in Wigan. Whether there are 500 of you taking advantage of the cheap booze in Eastern Europe or 5000 in the San Siro they’ll be the highlight of the season.
The match will probably be terrible, and you’ll watch the Ultras light their flares and unfurl their flag instead, but then the football was never the point of the trip anyway. Roll on tomorrow’s draw.
By Callum West