Often Partisan

Here come the Belgians

So, it’s matchday four of the Europa League group stage tonight and Birmingham City’s sixth match overall of their European campaign. When the original draw was made and Blues pulled out Nacional I didn’t think we’d get this far – yet BCFC sit pretty at the top of Group H with two home games to come and the question is popping up – just how much further Blues can go.

Normally, I’d write a preview of who’s fit and who isn’t; sequences of results and whatnot but I will confess I don’t want to. Part of it is because I’m currently writing this at silly o’clock in the morning and I’m not entirely sure my brain is functioning correctly, and part of it is because I think stats, facts and figures are all too dry for how I (and I guess many other Bluenoses) feel about the whole Europe thing.

It’s a strange feeling right now. The way things stand, and having seen all four teams in our group play, I can’t help but think that Blues are pretty much favourites to go through. We’ve beaten Brugge and Maribor in their own backyards; we’ve got a good home record this season and we’re on a roll. However, I don’t want to get too het up because I know being a Blues fan that I have to accept the inevitable kick in the bollocks when it all goes wrong and I really should do what I have been doing so far – ie enjoying Europe as a distraction from the humdrum and ennui that is a season in the second tier after the highs of the Premiership and a Wembley final. It’s all about expectation levels – and because of the excellent results out in Slovenia and Belgium the bar has been raised to a point where the pressure is almost on Blues to finish the job.

I’m looking forward to the visit of Club Brugge to St Andrews; Belgium was a very special experience and I’m hoping inside that the Belgians who make the trip to these shores share the same spirit as Bluenoses took over the channel. Unlike our previous visitors from Portugal, Brugge are bringing a fair number of fans – three thousand or so apparently – and it would be nice to think that some of them will spend tomorrow in Victoria or Chamberlain square, taking in the sights, trying to find some decent beer and shaking hands with bemused coppers from WMP. I sincerely hope that Brummies will extend the same hand of friendship that Bluenoses received out in Bruges, and that maybe for once Birmingham will be thought of fondly somewhere outside of the West Midlands.

Hopefully come ten o’clock this evening this pleasant feeling about European competition will still be with us, and with a bit of luck we might still be top of the group. I don’t believe we can confirm qualification tomorrow whatever the result, but a home win would put us a minimum of three points clear of Brugge and depending on what Maribor do in Portugal we could be two, four or even five points clear of Braga. In honesty though, right now I’d take a good performance and a point from our Belgian opponents as I think that coupled with a win over Maribor at home should be enough for us to make it through – and if that happened, well… it could be a very big club for us in the new year. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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7 Responses to “Here come the Belgians”

  • glyn rees says:

    I agree 100% on all aspects of your blog, lets just enjoy the ride. Kro4ever

  • mark says:

    If blues allow themselves to have a go we could win by 1 or 2 goals, the blues crowd will play a big part if we can get over 20,000 and the same feeling we had against braga why not!!!….
    May the ride continue along with the league KRO……….i will be there………….come on CH

  • RenalBlue says:

    Great post as usual. One thing I hope can be passed around and that is for us all to observe the 23 minute mark and have 1 minutes clapping. I really feel a bond of friendship has come out of the fans trip to Brugge. I hope Nathan Redmond gets a starting place tonight with Jean in central midfield alongside N’daw. Tonight St Andrews will be rocking I am sure.
    Keep Right On……

  • Oldburyblue says:

    I just hope that having demanded a block of best seats causing season ticket holders to move, UEFA big-wigs actually use them this match. Not ONE seat was used by them last match.

    Looking forward to tonight….win, lose or draw as long as we give it a good go and we come away entertained I don’t think many will complain. I was very proud of the team in Brugge, and even more proud of our supporters. Well done to all concerned and lets enhance even further our good name tonight.

  • skareggae72 says:

    I usally support any British teams in Europe (although not Villa) but on this occasion i hope the likes of Stoke and Fulham,Celtic and Spurs all fail,as quickly as possible,as i feel Blues have been very much ignored by the National press/media.Get through to the next round and hopefully they can give us the credit we deserve.
    One national paper sent a reporter to Brugge,at the last moment,when they heard there might be trouble,the reporter went home dissapointed.

    • bluenoseneil says:

      Don’t forget there are TWO second-tier teams in the Europa League.

      ….despite what Celtic fans think of their beloved club!!

      I agree with you, it would be great to see us have a good run and get some attention for making a cobbled together side of Bosmans and loanees look more than credible on the pitch in Europe. I don’t think any of the others could do it.


  • Denis Thwaites says:

    Yes the inevitable has happened. After expecting to be the whipping boys of group H, we sit on top of Group H half way through the group stage. On the south stand of the Jan Breydel stadium I witnessed a truly memorable occasion which after 10 minutes I thought was going to be an embarrasment. This competition for me was just a welcome distraction from being relegated and not in my wildest dreams was I expecting to have won at Maribor and Bruges but it would mean so much to our club if we could extend this dream beyond the end of the year. I think we all fear the inevitable financial implications that await us in January given the BIH announcement about delaying the publication of their accounts but qualification for the knock out stage of this cup would be a fantastic way for us to see out 2011. Let’s roar CH and the Blue boys from the rooftops this evening!!

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