Often Partisan

Off to Partizan IV

This is the latest in the continuing series looking at teams Blues could draw in next season’s Europa League. Previous parts can be found here, here and here.

This week, as the matches will be played in the height of summer I thought it would be fun to look at some possible opponents in “holiday” locations.


Nacional de Madeira, as they’re sometimes known, are in contention to qualify for the Europa League via their position in the Primeira Liga of Portugal. At the moment they lie fifth, which would see them enter the Europa League in the second qualifying round; however it’s possible they could improve their position enough to enter the Europa League in the same round as Blues.

Os Alvinegros (the White and Blacks) play in Funchal, the largest town on the small island of Madeira at the 5,132 capacity Estádio da Madeira. Like many other small grounds, the Estádio da Madeira has only two stands, with either end behind the goal bounded by tall fencing.

Home of CD Nacional

Funchal is served by Madeira Airport, which is only a couple of miles away from the city. Fans have a choice between flying with Thomson Airways direct from Birmingham to Funchal (which isn’t cheap, with prices currently quoted at around £450 – and they only fly on Mondays), or using easyJet and flying from Stansted (which is still going to set you back around £300). With prices like these, it might well be worth just looking for a last minute holiday deal with the wife and kids should we pull Nacional out of the hat – after all, Madeira offers sun, sand and beer prices comparable with Brum – it might well work out cheaper.


Panthessaloníkios Athlitikós Ómilos Costantinopolitón, or just (PAOK for short) are in contention to qualify for the Europa League via the Greek Super League play-offs, requiring just a point from the last league game to guarantee their place in the play-off group – where they have to finish in the top three to enter the Europa League at some stage.

PAOK play at the 28,703 capacity Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece. As is quite common with grounds in Southern Europe, only the west stand is covered, which could mean a very wet night should it choose to rain – however, from personal experience July in Greece is often very hot, and it’s more likely the Factor 50 will be needed than a sou-wester.

Home of PAOKThessaloniki is served by Thessaloniki International Aiport, which is about 10 miles south east of the city centre. Direct flights are available via BA and easyJet from Gatwick, with a whole host of alternatives if you don’t mind a stopover en route. Beer is quite expensive, with a pint costing £3.69 on average according to pintprice – although culture vultures will probably appreciate the local museums and historical features more. For those of you who like a bit of sun and sand, the Halkidiki peninusla starts not far from Thessaloniki, and again a last minute holiday deal might be the cheap way to go if we draw PAOK.


The third placed team in the Turkish Süper Lig will qualify by rights for the third qualifying round of the Europa League, and as of the moment that position is held by Bursapor.

Yeşil Timsahlar, or the “Green Crocodiles” as they are known to their fans hail from the seaside city of Bursa, in northern Turkey. They play at the 25,213 capacity Bursa Ataturk Stadium, a semi-covered bowl near to the centre of the city. European football isn’t unusual in these neck of the woods, although Bursaspor were the whipping boys of their Champions League group this season, drawing only their home game with Rangers and conceding 16 goals.

Bursa isn’t the easiest city to get to, with international flights only from Munich on Lufthansa. However, Turkey is a popular tourist destination in the summer, and Bursa is only about 50 miles away from the heady sights of Istanbul. Should we draw the Green Crocodiles, a last minute deal to the heady sights of the transcontinental city would be a good base for getting to the game. Pintprice also reckons beer is cheap in Bursa, at around £2 a pint – with some of the noisiest fans in Turkey thrown in, this could be a very tasty tie.

With the timings between the draw date, the second leg of the second qualifying round and the first leg of the third qualifying round so close together, organising a trip may prove to be a nightmare; whilst the idea of a week in the sun with a Blues match thrown in sounds like fun, I think it’ll be strictly for those with the pocketbook to support paying for a last minute deal in one lump.

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