This Sunday FRT is taking our annual trip to the German Supercup match- the German equivalent of England’s Charity Shield.

And this year it’s a biggie. As Bayern Munich take on arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Despite having won the Bundesliga for the past four years and the DFB-Pokal three times in that period, Bayern haven’t managed to win the Supercup once in the last four years.

Wolfsburg won the Supercup last year, beating Bayern 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

And in the two previous Supercup ties it was Dortmund themselves who beat Bayern, 2-0 in 2014 and 4-2 in 2013.

So, Bayern haven’t won the one-off cup match in four years despite having won the league at a canter for the last four years. Why is that?

It’s not because they can’t perform in knockout games as they’ve won the domestic cup three times in the last four years and they’ve regularly progressed into the latter stages of the Champions League.

Bayern have been criticised for not taking the match seriously in the last few seasons seeing as the Supercup is essentially a glorified friendly and because it is so close to the start of the season.

Whereas Dortmund have won the Supercup a record five times and seem to take the competition more seriously than their rivals- maybe because it’s an easy chance for silverware where Bayern normally clean up domestically.

Ahead of this tie Bayern’s Thomas Mueller has come out and said his side do take the Supercup seriously even if it’s not as ‘significant’ as the Bundesliga or the DFB-Pokal.

Bayern are expected to be at close to full strength for the game with Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa all working to be fit for the game. Though Arjen Robben and Jerome Baoteng will miss out through injury.

Seeing as its Bayern vs Dortmund, and Bayern haven’t won the Supercup in four years- it’s already a bit of a grudge match so there’ll be a few tackles flying in.

Some of those will be going in on Mats Hummels who will be making his debut for Bayern following a summer move from Dortmund. Another man who may be on the side of some heavy tackles will be Mario Goetze who made the switch from Bayern back to Dortmund (where he began his career) this summer.

Dortmund are also set to field a strong side with new signings Andre Schuerrle and Ousmane Dembele joining Goetze in the likely line up.

Given that and that both sides have had strong pre-seasons it’s going to be one hell of a match. But we at FRT are predicting that Bayern will end their drought in the Supercup with a 3-1 win.

Matt Bullin

Photo by Markus Unger via Flickr

After witnessing England’s humiliating Euros campaign first hand, we here at Football Road Trips couldn’t wait to get home. And following a spineless resignation from Woy, eyes all over the football world looked to see who would be the next man to take the England job.

With the FA standing by its ludicrous stance that England must have an English manager, they restricted themselves to a pretty feeble list, rather than tapping into the foreign talent that were mentioned for the job (the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, Arsene Wenger and Rafael Benitez).

So a few of the viable English managers put forward were: Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe, Gareth Southgate and Sam Allardyce.

Now that list isn’t exactly overflowing with managerial prestige is it?

Steve Bruce- undoubtedly a fantastic player in his day but his managerial record doesn’t sparkle like the likes of say Benitez, who has managed Liverpool, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Whereas Steve Bruce- affectionately nicknamed Mr. Potato Head by rival fans has managed Wigan, Sunderland and Hull.

Southgate was the early favourite for the job having done a half-decent job with the Under 21s, but he’s hardly an England legend and his three years at Middlesbrough weren’t exactly world class (he got them relegated from the Premier League).

Eddie Howe was the youngest of the men mentioned for the job. He’s obviously a decent manager, having guided Bournemouth up the divisions and Gary Lineker did describe him as the ‘English special one’ in a tweet earlier this year- but the general consensus is that Howe is too young and inexperienced for the job.

And that brings us to Sam Allardyce. Big Sam. Not one of the most fashionable managers in football, but he’s certainly someone who can do a ‘job’, having been a bit of a relegation dogfight specialist for a number of years- most recently with Sunderland.

He’s been often criticised for his long ball tactics and he even called Pep Guardiola’s tiki-tika football, “a load of b******s.” So, the FA seems to be changing its philosophy slightly: as they are going from wanted free flowing attacking football to appointing someone who will probably start Andy Carroll up top.

At Big Sam’s first press conference he said taking the England job will be his ‘greatest challenge’ and his first challenge will be winning over the fans and pundits who will no doubt be sceptical about his appointment given his reputation.

He’s also famously been able to instil passion and fight in his teams, something the most recent crop of England players have sadly lacked. So with that in mind are we set to see a very different looking England than the one that turned out at the Euros?

The answer is probably yes- players such as Mark Noble are almost certain to get a game and I don’t see why not. At the Euros Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson didn’t do much to nail down starting spots in the line-up.

From his previous clubs we’ve seen that he pays close attention to set-plays and defensive organisation. A trait that England could have done with against Iceland, to stop the long throw threat.

He’s probably more Mike Bassett than Jose Mourinho but all in all I think Big Sam will do a decent job for England when he pulls on the Three Lions blazer for the first time against Slovakia on 4 September.

And let’s be honest it can’t get much worse anyway.

Matt Bullin.

 

Photo by Ben Sutherland via Flickr.

Football Road Trips have been awarded a “Go Do” Award for Entrepreneurs worth £10,000 in cash at an awards ceremony hosted by Entrepreneurial Spark. We have been featured in an article on the Entrepreneurial Spark blog. Why not check it out?

“With under three weeks to go until the Entrepreneurial Spark #GoDoEntAwards, which will see over £250,000 awarded to entrepreneurs across the UK, celebrating the #GoDo journey, hear how winning the Entrepreneur of the Moment prize in January helped Football Road Trips to accelerate its growth….

Kai Rigby, founder of Football Road Trips, a business that creates luxury tailor-made road trips to some of Europe’s most exciting football cities, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Moment at the Entrepreneurial Spark Entrepreneuring Awards in January this year, scooping a £10,000 cash prize.

What is Football Road Trips?

The business was dreamt up by owner Kai Rigby while trudging through the amazon, watching a faltering England performance in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with his friend James.

Football Road Trips takes customers on a journey to two different European countries in one weekend, giving them the chance to watch two international football matches; PlayStation and refreshments are provided along the way. In addition to its tailor-made trips intended for large groups, the business also offers a bi-monthly trip that anyone can join.

Winning the Entrepreneur of the Moment Award

Entrepreneurial Spark, in partnership with NatWest, KPMG and EMC reward some of the brightest and most promising startups across the UK during the bi-yearly Entrepreneuring Awards, offering huge volumes of cash prizes to help them on the road to achieving their dream.

Reflecting on his win and what it meant for his business, Kai said: “Winning the award firstly helped us to raise our profile and gave us an element of authority during the investment process. It also gave the business backing credibility, which is very important. Finally, winning brought about a strong sense of confidence for the business and all those involved”.

What did this mean for Football Road Trips?

Football Road Trips knew a solid online presence was going to be critical so used part of the money to outsource design and SEO of its website (which brought the website to first and second place on certain Google searches) bringing in around £60,000 in sales.

The award money also paid for a member of admin staff to come on board, allowing Kai to focus on leading the business, developing partnerships with hotels and driving further sales.

Kai’s Entrepreneurial Spark experience

Speaking about his Entrepreneurial Spark journey Kai commented: “There is a strong outlook of objectivity throughout the programme, which I think stands out the most for me. Everything has a positive angle, because with Entrepreneurial Spark’s Enablers and mentors there is no reason to dress things up.

“You are also able to really reflect on your business; you learn things you never knew you didn’t know. Your horizons are opened and yes, I would say the best thing about Entrepreneurial Spark is that you learn new things, and are always soaking up all the information you can.”

Entrepreneurial Spark co-founder and Chief Entrepreneuring Officer Lucy-Rose Walker said: “The Entrepreneuring Awards have grown alongside our network of Hatcheries, and the latest events were the biggest yet. It’s fantastic to see how much Football Road Trips has progressed since joining Entrepreneurial Spark. We have seen the growth from an initial concept to the success it is today, and I’m delighted that our expert team of Enablers and mentors have helped Kai and his team on their #GoDo journey of development and scale.”

What’s next for Football Road Trips?

Since winning the award Football Road Trips also has a full quota for the Euros, with other trips booked beyond it; just recently, they took almost 100 people to the Euros to follow England. The prize money has allowed the business to generate its first critical batch of sales allowing it to reinvest profits in growth.

Talking about the future of the business, Kai added: “We are focusing on investment, which we really need for things like flight packages. We are looking to expand our road trips to take to the sky, and make our trips more frequent. We are also looking at expanding internationally and exploring options in Asia, as well as setting up longer ten day tours.”

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.

deportebar

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.