The Rules for Picking a European Soccer Team

The soccer season is up and running here in Europe and, after six weeks, it is time to look at the tables (standings). You see, for the first few weeks things can be a bit strange and a pattern needs to be established. Many of you reading this will be planning an EF tour to Europe for March or April 2014 or, as we call it, the end of the season. Most leagues finish in May so you will be touching down as things come to a head, so I am here to help with some pre-tour planning. I am sure you will want to engage with the locals, however, you cannot get here and then pick a team, it’s too late and you might be tempted to follow the team who is leading the league of the country you are in. The thing to do is pick a team now and stick with them, even if it leads to decades of sadness.

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yaili/Via Flickr

Most Europeans have a favorite team in other countries beyond their own, arbitrarily chosen in childhood or by subsequent travels. In case you are interested, Napoli, Rayo Vallecano, Celtic, FC St Pauli and Ajax are mine. You can certainly pick more than one team, but only one from each league – a golden rule. Also, while I am making up rules, no changes. You choose for life, for better or worse.

So, here a few tips…

  • Understand the bias of the places you are going to. Heading to Barcelona and deciding on Real Madrid might need some rethinking – and vice-versa.
  • Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Look up “Liverpool syndrome.” I am hopeful this will soon be renamed to “Manchester United syndrome.”
  • The US has produced some excellent players in recent years and you might wish to follow a team sporting one or two guys from back home. However, players move on and you might end up having to awkwardly explain why you support Rapid Vienna.

Watching soccer in Europe is a wonderful experience. I have taken many groups to games around London. Major games sell out in advance so we often end up going to see teams playing in lower divisions and this can lead to some great team choices. Despite the nonsense of the 80’s or movies such as Green Street Hooligans depicting stereotypes, fans are generally very friendly and welcoming. In case you’re worried of offending local sensitivities then your Tour Director will be able to provide some biased advice, but my personal recommendation is to always support Arsenal F.C.

Topics: Culture

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