Often Partisan

Off to Partizan VII

This is the seventh article in this series, the previous six are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6

As the season draws to a close, the list of qualifiers for the Europa League is starting to take shape. Whilst Blues themselves don’t know what round they are in for definite until Saturday evening, many fans are getting more excited as the time for our Europa League bow draws near. For this week, I’ve not picked a particular theme; I’ve just gone for teams that I wouldn’t mind going to:

UE Sant Julia

UE Sant Julia of the tiny landlocked principality of Andorra will be in next season’s Europa League by virtue of winning the 2011 Copa Constitució 3-1 against UE Santa Coloma. They will start in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, and the part-timers will surely face an uphill struggle to get through to a potential match at St Andrews. That being said, I’d love a tie against a team like this as I think we’d have the potential of knocking up a cricket score.

Sant Julia play in the 1800 capacity Estadi Comunal d’Aixoval, in the village of Aixoval. The stadium is the largest that Andorra has to offer, and is the home base of the Andorran national team. With the Pyrenees offering an impressive backdrop, it looks a beautiful place to go and watch football, although I should imagine tickets might be hard to come by.

Andorra is fairly easy to get to; you can either fly in via Ryanair to Girona from Birmingham International, and then drive to Andorra, or you can take the long range driving option – which takes about 20-24 hours. Pintprice.com says that beer is around the £3 mark in Andorra, and that many French and Spanish beers are on offer. With the amount of time before the game possibly being at a premium, being able to drive to the destination makes the idea of Andorra a nice one.

AC Juvenes/Dogana

AC Juvenes/Dogana of San Marino have qualified for the second qualifying round of the Europa league by virtue of winning the 2011 Coppa Titano, beating Virtus 4-1 in the final. Again, it might be difficult for them to get to the point where they could meet Birmingham City, but again it would be a good tie against a team who we could get a cricket score against.

The doganieri hail from the town of Dogana in San Marino, which is the largest town of the tiny republic. They play in the Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle, which is also the home stadium of the Sanmarinese national team, and San Marino Calcio (who play in the Italian league system). The ground holds seven thousand people, and is comfortably the largest ground in San Marino – especially in that it could hold about 23% of the population of San Marino. The stadium has a stand either side of the pitch, but unfortunately has an athletics track which means a supporter is some way back from the action.

Getting to San Marino is normally via Italy; Rimini is the closest airport and Ryanair has flights there from Stansted and Liverpool. Alternatively, you could fly into Bologna from Stansted with Ryanair. Pintprice haven’t got an average price of a beer in San Marino, although one comment said that they paid three euros for small one, so it might be a place to stick to the vino.

Partizan Belgrade

As soon as Partizan Belgrade qualified for the Europa League by virtue of beating Vojvodina in the final of the 2011 Serbian cup, I knew I was going to have to include them – after all, this is the team the series is named after. At the moment, they will be in the draw for the third qualifying round of the Europa League along with Blues, although if they wrap up the Serbian title (which is looking likely), they will of course qualify for the Champions League.

Partizan play at the 32,710 capacity Stadion FK Partizan in Belgrade – or as the Partizan fans know it, the “temple of football” (Fudbalski Hram). Like both of the other grounds mentioned in this article, the Stadium has a running track around the pitch, but even so the crowds look loud and fervent and it would be a veritable cauldron to play in. Alas, the ground isn’t covered so should it rain, you’re going to get very wet.

Belgrade is served by Nikola Tesla International Airport, which is some seven and half miles from the centre of the city. You can fly there from London Heathrow on Jat Airways, or from Luton on Wizz Air. Now the wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia are long over, Belgrade is rediscovering it’s tourist potential, and there is much to do in the city, and with the price of a beer around a quid a pint according to Pintprice, it could make for a very enjoyable trip.

Tomorrow sees the final of the FA Cup, and I hope you’ll join with me in cheering on Manchester City; a Manc win would see us advanced a round in Europe and taken closer to the group stage with it’s guaranteed six Europa games (and the money that will come with that).


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