One of the highlights of #thesuhardisineurope was the live soccer matches that we caught in Anfield and Old Trafford. Hubby is a soccer-freak, I say freak because each time he is on his phone, he is always reading updates on soccer matches or other soccer-related news. I always tell him that he will make an excellent sports newscaster because he’s so well-read on global soccer news.
Part 1 – Buying tickets for soccer matches in Europe
I thought of sharing on our experiences in getting hold of match tickets for the matches that we have watched thus far, just in case any of you are keen to catch some live Soccer action in your next Europe trip.
Inter Milan vs Atalanta
San Siro, 24/4/2010
6 years ago, when we were in Europe for our honeymoon, we were supposed to catch a match in Barcelona. We ended up stranded in Paris due to the Icelandic volcanic ash incident, and we never made our way to Spain as we had to find alternative travel arrangements out of Paris. We were in Milan and we found out that there would be an Inter Milan match on one of the evenings that we were there. We were told that we would be able to get tickets before the match as it was not a sold out match.
True enough, we managed to buy our tickets from the ticket counter at the stadium and that was our first experience catching a soccer match live in Europe.
Liverpool vs Man Utd
For our recent trip, we booked our flight tickets in April, as there was an attractive promotion by KLM then. We knew that we would be visiting Anfield and Old Trafford, but because the match schedule for the season 16/17 was not out, we did not fix the itinerary of our trip then. When the match schedule was released in June, we decided on the match that we would be catching and fix our itinerary from there. There was going to be a Liverpool-Manchester United match on the first weekend that we would be in Europe, and since that is an important match for us (hubby is a Liverpool fan and I’m a Man Utd fan!). We did our research and asked around about getting tickets for the match, and we found out the following:
– Tickets for huge games like this one are usually not available for sale to the public. You’ll need to be a member for a chance to buy the tickets. This brings me to my next point below.
– Even if you are a member, there are limited tickets for these games, hence balloting will take place. In other words, there is no guarantee that you will get tickets for the match.
– And even if you are lucky and manage to snag a ticket, you can only ballot for 1 ticket per member. There was no way I would be a Liverpool fan just for a (slim) chance of getting a ticket to the game!
– One possible option is to take up the hospitality packages that the club offers through agents like Thomas Cook. The packages usually include accommodation and/or dinner before the match. On the first day of the hospitality package sale, the children packages (which were a fraction the price of the adult packages) were sold out within the first hour. We were left with the option of purchasing 4 adult packages which would have cost us over £1.5k !
We did the next best thing and asked for help from our Facebook contacts. A friend of ours directed us to a Malaysian who currently lives in Liverpool, Nazali. He runs a Homestay business in Liverpool and facilitates the purchase of match tickets for his guests. We got in touch with him and made arrangements to stay in his accommodation for 2 nights. His hospitality package was slightly higher than the one offered by Thomas Cook, but we decided to go ahead with it as he and his wife provide a babysitting service at a very low price of £10/hour. We decided to go ahead with the booking, and spent £1.05k on our match tickets, 2 nights of accommodation, stadium tour and babysitting service. If you do book a package with him, you might want to request for an accommodation in Liverpool city centre as it is nearer to Anfield. We stayed in an apartment in Garston which was about half an hour away from city centre and one hour away from Anfield via public transport. The only consolation was that we could easily drop off and pick up our kids on the night of the match as his place was a 10-minute walk from our accommodation. If you do not require babysitting service, we do not recommend that you stay in this neighbourhood.
Old Trafford, 20/10/2016
When we were planning our UK itinerary, we found out that Man Utd will be playing a home match the night that we had originally planned to fly off from Manchester to Norway. We decided to spend an additional night in Manchester just so that we can catch the match at Old Trafford. As it was a Europa Cup and not a Premiere League match, tickets were available and non-members are allowed to buy multiple tickets. Children tickets were available as well, so we decided to buy the tickets and bring the kids along for the match. Total cost for 2 adults and 2 kids was £105.
We bought the tickets online from the club’s website about 2 months before our trip. One week before our departure, we realised that we had yet to receive our tickets. Worried that the tickets will not reach us in time for our trip, I decided to email the club to enquire. We got a reply from them within the day assuring us that the tickets would be sent to us. The next day, they informed us that they have mailed out the tickets. The tickets arrived the day before we departed for Europe.
Ajax Amsterdam v Excelsior
Amsterdam Arena, 30/10/2016
When we were in Manchester, hubby was catching up on his daily soccer news and found out that Ajax will be playing at home on our 2nd night in Amsterdam. We checked out the club’s website and found out that tickets were still on sale. However we weren’t able to purchase the tickets online as the site required us to key in our membership details which we didn’t have. We decided that we will try our luck at the stadium instead. On the night of the match, we reached the stadium an hour before kick off. We managed to locate the ticket sales counter and got ourselves tickets for the match. We paid about €100 for 2 adults and 2 child tickets.
The match wasn’t that exciting but we still had a good time. 😬
Part 2 – Things to note when watching soccer matches in Europe
– Public transport can be pretty crowded. You might want to try and make your way to the stadium earlier so that you won’t be caught in heavy human traffic.
– Bring as little stuff as possible. We usually leave our bags and bottles in our accommodation, and only bring along the necessary items and money. There are usually bag checks, so it’ll be faster to clear if you don’t have big bulky bags with you.
– The stadiums that we have been to have many entrance points. Make sure you check which gate you are at, else you will find yourself walking around the whole stadium to get to your entrance.
– Because there are many entrance points, I didn’t find myself having to jostle with people as I enter or leave the stadiums. Despite the large crowd, the stadiums don’t feel crowded, which is what I like most of all!
– We usually buy cheap seats hence our seats are almost always somewhere at the top. Be prepared to climb up and down the stairs, wear comfortable shoes! Amsterdam arena actually has escalators, so that was easy !
– Sit in the family section if you are watching the game with your kids. The fans can be very passionately loud and vulgar during the match, you wouldn’t want to expose your kids to their foul language. We sat in the fans section at Anfield and I was shocked (and amused!) at the words that came out of the fans’ mouths ! At Old Trafford, we sat at the family section and we had none of them vulgarities uttered in the section!
– Bring along a good jacket if you are there during autumn/winter. I kept my jackets on throughout all 3 matches in our recent trip because it did get rather chilly during the matches.
– Do find out if you are sitting in the Home or Away section, and dress accordingly. Club loyalty is big and we don’t want scary things to happen to you just because you picked out the wrong jersey to wear that day!
– Quite a lot of people leave the stadium at the 80th minute just so they won’t be caught in a human traffic congestion after the match is over. Leave early or stay behind and leave after the crowd has dispersed. This is especially useful if you are watching the game with young kids.
So if you love Soccer and are planning a trip to Europe, I say go and catch a match if you can! You should see hubby’s face each time we reach a stadium – he’s like a little kid in Disneyland ! ☺️