I’m not a huge fan of Spanish Football, the lack of fan culture and atmosphere in Spanish Stadiums does little to provoke my Interests.  I do usually watch El Classico though like the rest of the world but every time I’m repulsed at how for 90 minutes some of the so called best players in the world spend the majority of the match rolling around whilst trying to get their opposition number sent off. I know this happen’s a lot now in all leagues but it really is a different level in La Liga.

However on a recent international week trip to Spain I couldn’t resist taking in a Segunda Division game on my way back from Alicante. I found myself inland to Albacete to see the home side take on Tenerife at the Estadio Carlos Belmonte.

My allegiances for this one lay strictly with the away side Tenerife thanks to some fellow England Fans who are regulars at Tenerife home games and had arranged tickets for my group as long as we could pick them up ourselves from the manager himself, naturally at the team hotel before the game.

In Spain away fans travel in very small numbers if at all so it’s no surprise that for a team like Tenerife where a flight is required for every away day that the club officials themselves take on the responsibility of distributing its away allocation. It was the first game for newly appointed Tenerife manager José Luis Martí and he requested we show plenty of “Animacion” in the away section today to support the team. I’ll do my best I told him.

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After this rather unexpected occurrence we headed back in the town for a couple of beers on a  rather chilly Sunday afternoon south east Espana before heading down to the ground about a hour before kickoff. There’s wasn’t much to the ground, a small kiosk selling club merchandise stood out amongst the dozens of men selling monkey nuts. Fortunately we did stumble upon a bar over the road from the stadium. First impressions from the outside left a lot to be desired, it looked as if half the bar had been blown up so understandable we were a little hesitant on entering, though inside this appeared to be the top spot for Albacete fans pre match Mahon. Remarkable prices too, 2 bottles of beer and a snifter of Brandy full to the rim, no half measures in Albacete, came to just €5.

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It was here that we met up with a party of other England fans that also shared our intrigue for some domestic football that day and we soon had a strong group of about 20 fans ready to join the 60 or so Tenerife fans that had made the journey.

Once in the ground there wasn’t a segregated away section as such so we were left to our own devices and chose to just group together in block along the one side of the pitch amongst the home fans. The travelling Tenerife fans soon warmed to us once we’d began creating our own songs supporting the Canary Islands side which by the end of the game we had the natives singing them with us too.

The game itself unsurprisingly lacked any real quality with both teams failing to really put their foot on the ball and control the game. Tenerife had only picked up 1 away win all season so far and quickly became apparent why so it came as some surprise then when Tenerife took the lead midway through the first half with a clinical strike from outside the area after poor Albacete clearance. The home team equalised in stoppage time in the first half but it was Tenerife who found a winner with 10 minutes to go sending the Tenerife section into raptures. At the full time whistle the players came over to take our applause and even threw their shirts in the crowd and posed for photos with some of the die hards who had made the trip.

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Post match some of the regular Tenerife fans thanked us for coming and for supporting their team. It was really enjoyable and somewhat unexpected personal experience of second division Spanish league football and one I can’t wait to follow up.

I’ve recently become fascinated with Feyenoord, it began while watching a Europa league game last season at their home ground Stadion Feyernood or as its better known “De Kuip”. On a match day De Kuip can seat 53,000 fans and with the lower tier of this stadium being predominantly standing, can create a unique intimidating atmosphere.

Its fair to say that Feyenoord don’t have a ultras group. The definition of ultras is that of those that support their team win,lose or draw for the full 90 minutes  and dedicate their lives to the club. At Feyernoord the whole stadium does this so there is no need for an ultras group.

The club itself plays a part in creating such a unrivalled atmosphere in the Erevisie , What other club do you know of that would allow their training ground situated next to the stadium to be turned into a pre match drinking fan zone. Known as The Varkenoord it is the popular choice amongst Feyenoord fans for their pre game tipple or 10 and at less than €2 a beer credit must go to the club for not constantly wanting to profit from their fans.  So refreshing these days when all we hear and read about in England of how obsessed with wealth our Premier League clubs are.

There is a saying in Rotterdam that visitors to the club catch “The Feyenoord Virus”, a feeling which inspires people to visit again and again, if that’s the case then sign me up and I’ll definitely leave my aspirin’s at home.

Look out for details in the coming weeks for our first visit to Rotterdam and Feyenoord of 2016.

When the venue’s were announced for Euro 2016, I had visions of reliving France 98 with the steep and intimate but ageing Stadia producing some electric and partisan atmospheres to make for a spectacular tournament.

As it turned out these nostalgic stadiums are no longer.

The open air cauldron of the Stade Veldrome basking in Côte_d’Azur sunshine has been rebuilt… with a roof.

While in St Etienne where Michael Owen danced through the Argentine defence in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard , known for its “English Style” design with no corner stands has now had a facelift and they’ve filled in some of the corners.

However unlike the half finished soulless stadia we had to put up with in Brazil at least our French venues have seen a season’s football played in them and do seem to have retained their atmospheric potential.

Here we’ll take a closer a look at the pick of the stadiums we have to look forward to this summer.

  1. Lyon – Grand Stade OL / Stade Des Lumieres

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A newly built stadium from scratch replacing Lyon’s home of the Stade Gerland is set to be 59,500 all seater which resembles a slightly smaller scaled Wembley Stadium.

The Grand Stade OL is currently still under construction but as of October has really started to come together and looks quite impressive from the latest set of photos.

To stay in touch with its progress follow the twitter account @grandstadeOL

  1. Marseille – Stade Velodrome

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Le Nouveau Stade Velodrome will have been finished for 2 years by the time it hosts its first Euro 2016 game, Olympique de Marseille played all of last season in their new home and the record capacity was set in their home fixture against PSG of 65,148. By all accounts the atmosphere has developed with the stadium, two sets of OM supporters groups are now housed at each of the ground, the ‘Virage Nord’ and ‘Virage Sud’ creating an atmosphere that is unrivalled in French football .

  1. Lens – Stade Bollaert-Delelis

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The setting for David Beckham to launch himself on the international stage in England’s group game with Columbia in 98, Stade Bollaert-Delelis has also seen renovation, however it has retained a lot of its charm, the “English style” remains with the 4 steep individual stands and at 35,000 it is one of the smallest of all the Euro 2016 venues.

With its steep grandstands at enclosed up tiers even though one of the smallest we expect the atmosphere here to be one of the best during its 3 group and one last 16 game Lens is set to host.