European soccer crazed son -- birthday idea(s)?
August 22, 2017 1:06 PM   Subscribe

My son (15), who BTW does not play soccer, is obsessed with European soccer. Doesn't matter what league. It probably stems from a fascination with the XBOX game FIFA, but it has extended to watching the real thing with a passion. I'd love to take him to a quality game in Europe -- ANYWHERE -- but I have no idea where I might get the best bang for the buck.

We are based on the West coast of the US so travel is going to be far no matter what. Are there any ideas from y'all where we could fly into and see a great, quality, non-friendly game and not bust the bank (on the tickets)? I am fully aware the airfare will likely be a huge part of the cost.
posted by teg4rvn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can check the La Liga fixtures for Spanish team matches, for example, or Premier League fixtures for UK teams. Looks like there are some decent matches in September/ October.

Why September/ October?

Flights to Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom (most of Europe!) are relatively cheap in September, and lower than $250 in October. You could definitely find inexpensive plane tickets and catch one or more matches for a reasonable cost in autumn.
posted by Everydayville at 1:24 PM on August 22, 2017

We got RT tickets (from NYC not the west coast) to Spain this fall for just over $400 each. I don't think champion's league fixtures are set yet (on further research, the group stage draw is scheduled to happen in two days time), but you could try to catch both a sundy La Liga match and stay over for a Wednesday Champions League one too.

Im a little disappointed that we wont get to see a match while we are there (FCB has an away match on our one potential date) but a friend who was just in Barcelona on the day of the Spanish Supercup match and there were tickets to be had for about 75 euros (and that was to see Madrid v Barcelona, one of soccers most iconic rivalries)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:25 PM on August 22, 2017

You could go to an International friendly here in the US if the timing works out. This is the 2017 schedule, but there's nothing for the immediate future from what I could see.

I had some friends go to one this summer and every once in awhile see one advertised for the stadium in town.
posted by fiercekitten at 2:02 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

My son is similarly obsessed, and we gave him a trip for his 16th birthday (we went over spring break, so late in the season). I would really recommend letting your son pick a few teams he'd especially like to see, rather than picking any old game or the cheapest destination. Our son's favorite team is Crystal Palace, and watching him sing and chant and cheer along with the fans of the team he's been following for years really made it memorable.

We also joined the club as international members, which gave us access to a special block of tickets they set aside at each match - I assume all the clubs do this - and we ended up with unbelievably good seats.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:21 PM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Before you get to Europe, you could always check out some local MLS games here in North America. (They have the MLS league in EA's FIFA on the xbox as well). There's several teams on the west coast - San Jose, LA, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC. It's probably not the same experience, but it's definitely closer to home and is real football as far as the rest of the world is concerned.
posted by cgg at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Spain is a good idea because it's pretty cheap in general (my take is the most expensive cities are relatively same price as normal american cities. Plus the two biggest teams in the world play there.
If he's not watching a Clasico (i.e Real madrid vs Barcelona) tickets are relatively cheap because they have a massive stadium. Way cheaper than NFL.

MLS is great and going to Portland or Seattle would be a great experience.

However he's"Obsessed with European soccer." Do not go to MLS game instead (maybe afterwards).
posted by sandmanwv at 2:28 PM on August 22, 2017

I can't speak to what will be cheapest, but from a soccer perspective, here are my thoughts:

If I could go to a game in Europe, I would love to see Borussia Dortmund in Germany -- the "yellow wall" of fans looks like it creates an amazing atmosphere, and one of their star players is an 18-year-old American named Christian Pulisic who just might end up being the greatest soccer player that the United States have ever produced. Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich would be a top-class game to see. That said, I am not sure Dortmund would be the coolest city to visit, but you could go to Munich and see Bayern there when they host Dortmund. Bayern Munich games have a pretty great atmosphere as well.

Otherwise, just about any game in the Premier League (UK league) would be excellent and you could not possibly go wrong there. The Premier League is the top league in the world and the gold standard for just about any soccer fan. And unlike La Liga (Spanish league) or the Bundesliga (German league), every team has stars and every team is competitive. If you did go to see La Liga, you'd probably want to stick to seeing Real Madrid (for Cristiano Ronaldo especially) or Barcelona (for Lionel Messi especially). For Bundesliga, you'd want Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. But with the Premier League, most teams would be exciting to see. I think the big clubs would be most desirable -- clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Manchester City -- unless he has someone else he roots for. Ligue 1 in France wouldn't be bad, but you'd probably aim for Paris Saint-Germain so you can watch Neymar in action since that league, like La Liga, isn't competitive all the way through.

That said, if you want to experience some amazing soccer in the United States, I would recommend a Portland Timbers match. If you are feeling brave, you could sit in the North End of the stadium with the Timbers Army, and stand and sing songs the entire time. Otherwise, sit along the sidelines, but don't stray too far from section 108. Otherwise, the Seattle Sounders also have a special atmosphere -- I'd especially consider going to see the Sounders when they play the Timbers because those rivalry matches are especially fun. If your son cares about the U.S. national team at all, the Sounders have a few big players on it, including Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.

But, all of this aside, I would think about what leagues, teams or players he is the biggest fan of, and go from there.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:15 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

FC St. Pauli in Hamburg, Germany. They might even win, but that is not the most important thing about going to one of the games. The fans, the atmosphere, and the pre- and post-game antics are an absolute spectacle to watch. It's like punk rock soccer. It is a very popular spot on the football tourism circuit. So many people come to games from all over the world just to experience the madness.
posted by chillmost at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2017

i am 100% the most biased person in the universe but take him to see an el clasico, the next one is december 20th.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:23 PM on August 22, 2017

(in madrid)
posted by poffin boffin at 11:25 PM on August 22, 2017

Now that the Champions League draw has been made, you've got a chance of picking up tickets for big games in grounds that are usually sold out. They're mid-week, and not all season ticket holders will take up their seats.

You don't say which team(s?) your son follows, but if Celtic v. PSG or Atletico Madrid v. Chelsea or Juve v. Barça is interesting for him, then now's your chance.

Full list here (pdf). Contact the home club of any given fixture for ticket details.
posted by rd45 at 4:58 AM on August 25, 2017

I was just thinking about this question the other day, and if you can attend an El Clasico in Madrid or Barcelona, that would be pretty special.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:55 PM on September 6, 2017

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