We are seven games into the new Premier League season and it has already been a cracker, with upsets almost every week and good form feeling like a distant memory for some teams already. Some big results for smaller clubs like West Ham and Brighton against Manchester United have been eclipsed by the constant rumour mill swirling around the club. Is there an issue in the United camp? Their recent run of results suggests so and so too do the press. In this article, we talk about everything that has happened so far this season and make some predictions on what is yet to come.

Wolverhampton Wander Into The Top Ten 

Wolverhampton Wanderers are freshly promoted back into the Premier League and have gone from strength to strength so far. With three wins and one loss in the opening seven games, they have proved their ability to play as a strong defensive unit conceding only six goals (only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have conceded less so far). Having got 1-1 draws with both Manchester United and City, they have shown the league early on that they are here to stay. With Palace, Watford and Brighton their next three fixtures,  Wolves will be optimistic they can continue this run of top performances and solidify their place in the top ten.

 

United’s Struggles

Manchester United, who sit 10th just behind Wolves at the seven-game mark, have had a season to forget already.  After starting the season with an unconvincing win over Leicester, they have gone on to lose against Brighton, Spurs, Derby and West Ham. A goalless draw to Valencia in the Champions League their latest result, fans are beginning to wonder whether they will see their team rise to the levels of success Sir Alex installed as an expectation.

Chelsea and Juventus are United’s next three fixtures and you would think José Mourinho would need a result from each of them to release some of the pressure building up on his position as manager. Every day more rumours about Pogba’s unhappiness with his manager fuels fans to demand one or both of them be let go from the club. We will have to wait until January to see whether Pogba will move elsewhere, but if United continue their current form we probably won’t have to wait that long to find out José’s fate…

 

The Battle for Europe 

As predicted by many before the season kicked off, Manchester City and Liverpool are the top two and Chelsea are hot on their heels with all three teams on unbeaten runs in the Premier League.

After a tricky start to the season for Arsenal and new manager Emri, losing to City and Chelsea, they have found a shape that suits them and the results have improved massively with five straight PL wins. However, with their defence still looking suspect at times they will have to keep working to challenge for silverware this season.

Tottenham have not been the same team that we saw last season, despite not signing anyone over the summer. Lucas Moura feels like a new signing for them as he was on the fringes of the team when he signed and has finally come good. However, with a string of injuries lately their performances in Europe have slipped and they now look as though they could exit early. Whether they can find a way back into the competition in time will depend on how quickly some of their key players, such as Erikson, can recover.

 

Fighting The Drop

The three teams so far without a win are Huddersfield, Cardiff and Newcastle, all with just two points after seven games. Many expected these teams to struggle this season as they all lack that most important asset; a consistent goal threat. Huddersfield, in particular, have only scored three times but have conceded 16, sending alarms ringing warning sirens for David Wagner’s team.

Newcastle and Cardiff have only scored four goals each with Newcastle’s defensive record keeping them in 18th. Both teams seem to be playing with little confidence and desire which is understandable after going this long without a win. It will be down to their respective managers to work with their squads on the training ground and look to forward at their upcoming fixtures as a source of points.

At this stage in the season, it is hard to tell whether this trend will continue and these three sides will be relegated. But so far, they all look way off the pace this season.


Turn Around On The Cards?

What looked like a relegation season for West Ham after four straight losses in the first four games in the Premier League, they may have turned a corner. After signing nine new players in the summer window and the addition of new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers fans were full of hope. But all this change caused them major issues as Pellegrini struggled to find a system that worked. In what was seen by many fans as a must-win game, West Ham won convincingly away at Everton and have since nicked four points after playing both Chelsea and United at the London Stadium. As is the way with the premier league, there are no easy games and West Ham will have to move on from these results and begin to pick up points from the teams around them to keep a top half finish within reach.

 

Predictions 

So with all that drama in just seven games, what can we expect for the rest of the season? Liverpool and Manchester City will certainly look to continue their unbeaten runs and remain the most likely to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season, while Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs will battle it out for the remaining Champions League spots. The current bottom three look set to stay there if they can’t begin to find goals from somewhere and fail to stop leaking them at the other end. Finally, at this stage in the season, it is impossible to predict whether United battle for a place in Europe or whether Watford and Bournemouth will continue with their blistering form of late. No matter what happens, we are all in for another unmissable season.

If you’re thinking of checking out some European football in countries such as Germany, Belgium and Holland then check out all the packages that Football Road Trips have to offer. Get in touch today and begin planning your perfect football away day.

When you think of a football road trip to Germany, you think of the Bundesliga and its incredible atmospheres. Not only does Germany boast some of the best stadiums in the world but they also have some of the most passionate supporters in football. With that passion comes unbelievable atmospheres, and an unforgettable experience for any travelling football fans. What are the best footballing atmospheres in Germany? Here is our list:

 

1. Borussia Dortmund – Signal Iduna Park

Usually named in many lists of the world’s best footballing atmospheres, Dortmund’s home fits 81,360 passionate supporters emblazoned in their famous yellow and black colours. Anyone who has ever visited Dortmund will always take away with them the spine-tingling passion of the “yellow wall”. 24,454 fans transform the largest freestanding terrace in Europe into a wall of black and yellow flags and banners to support their team. Current Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp cried when he waved goodbye to the Dortmund fans in 2015. It is a must-see experience for every football fan.

 

2. Bayern Munich & TSV 1860 Munich – Allianz Arena

At the Allianz Arena, you get a purpose-built modern football stadium that was designed to create an incredible atmosphere. Bayern fans have been spoilt with success in recent years, so the crowd in there is more in expectation of victories rather than needing to be the 12th man. However, the beauty of the Allianz Arena is that there are two teams who call it home. For a different type of atmosphere, third tier side 1860 Munich have an incredibly passionate support, who create quite a noise at home matches.

 

3. Schalke – Veltins Arena

Any stadium with a retractable roof can create a cauldron-like atmosphere inside. Schalke’s 62,271 strong Veltins Arena is a sea of blue and white every single week, even during bad spells. The noise they generate is something to behold, especially when a Ruhr derby takes place against Dortmund or Bochum. The fans are also properly fuelled, with a 3 mile beer pipeline running throughout the stadium.

 

4. Borussia Monchengladbach – Borussia-Park

Housing some of the most die-hard supporters in Germany, the Borussia-Park holds 54,000 supporters every home game. Its fans not only place their passion in the terraces but also in decisions about the club. Monchengladbach fans dictated that the stadium had to be built with standing areas for at least 15,000 of its capacity. The standing areas are the focal point for the wall of noise you’ll experience here.

 

5. Hamburg – Volksparkstadion

When it comes to passion for a football club, Hamburg bring it in their droves quite literally on match day. The Volksparkstadion is based at the outskirts of the city rather than in the centre like most grounds. Their 57,000 seater stadium is a UEFA Elite ground because of its incredible facilities, but most remember the noise that reverberates around this fantastic arena.

 

6. Eintracht Frankfurt – Commerzbank Arena

Frankfurt’s impressive 51,500 seater stadium has the largest retractable roof of its kind in the world. Because of its sheer size, the noise created by their supports bounces right back around the area during those bad weather days. With a huge video cube situated in the middle ensuring nobody misses anything, fans have an experience to remember at the Commerzbank Arena.

 

7. St Pauli – Millerntor Stadion

St Pauli are considered the world’s favourite cult club and are on everybody’s recommended list of football teams to watch. Their fans are considered anarchists in terms of how they support their team, but not in a violent way. Their supporters like to make their home games feel like a genuine event rather than just another league game. You will experience the usual football chants about their team, but St Pauli fans will also sing about current political issues as well. They also love their rock music too. You can expect the likes of AC/DC and Motorhead over the tannoys to fire up the crowd.

 

Football Road Trips have a selection of packages that will take you to the best atmospheres German football has to offer. We also visit Belgium, France and Holland as well! Plan your next European football away day for a birthday, stag do or corporate event by getting in touch with us today!

 

The Germany squad has a rich history of success and a strong collection of famous teams in their national league, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund being two of the most recognisable. If you are thinking of taking a road trip to the land of steins and frankfurters, such as Dusseldorf, Cologne or Mönchengladbach, then you might want to look out for some of the nation’s best players. We’ve picked our top five German players from across Europe to look out for this season.  

 

1. Thomas MÜller

Müller has been a regular starter in the Bayern Munich side in recent seasons and has continued to perform. He became a national favourite after scoring five goals and providing three assists in their World Cup victory in 2014. Despite his goals drying up over the past two seasons, his assists have shot up. With the introduction of Robert Lewandowski to the Bayern side, he isn’t their first choice striker, but he has adapted his game and produced goals for the big man. Last season he produced 16 assists in the Bundesliga – his highest ever haul. However, his scoring ways could be back this season as he has already netted two goals in his first two games.

 

 

2. Toni Kroos

Having been a key part of Real Madrid’s double Champions League success this man is one of Germany’s all time great midfielders. He is not well-known for his prolific goal scoring or assist providing as he tends to sit in the middle of the park and set up the play from deep. Although Germany had a very dismal World Cup run in Russia, Kroos was one of the few to shine after scoring deep into injury time against Sweden to gain them three points. Can Kroos help Madrid to another trophy this season?

 

3. Timo Werner 

A young rising star in the German ranks, Werner has made a name for himself in recent seasons as Leipzig’s front man. In the 16/17 season he netted a personal best of 21 times in 31 games helping them to their highest ever Bundesliga position. In addition to this sizzling league success he was joint top scorer in the 2017 Confederations Cup. His performances have helped him gain a place in the national team and he looks to be the perfect replacement for Mario Gomez. Werner is just one of many emerging youth stars set on taking their nation back to the glory of 2014.

 

4. Julian Draxler

Draxler has been on the scene for a number of seasons having emerged at Schalke, before moving to Wolfsberg and now playing for Paris St Germain. He is a creative, nimble, attacking midfielder that brings a spark to his team when he plays. He is yet to replicate his 12/13 season where he scored ten goals, but he has moved to much more star-studded teams where he plays a more of a team role. Now playing alongside Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe it can be harder to break into the side and make as much of an impact. This doesn’t take away from the fact that this player has real quality and could walk into most teams in Europe.

 

5. Leroy Sané 

A player that has really shone under the management of Pep Guardiola over the last couple seasons and was a massive influence in their Premier League title campaign. He managed to bag himself 10 goals and 15 assists last season earning him the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Despite this amazing feat he was left out of the Germany squad for Russia 2018, a mistake in the eyes of many fans who saw their team bow out in the group stage. So far this season he has been a victim of Pep’s midfield rotation and has only made appearances from the bench. This has left people questioning whether he has a future at the club or if he would be best suited to move elsewhere for regular game time. It seems a real waste to keep his talent sitting on the bench when he too would be welcomed into any other club in Europe.

 

Whether your next football road trip is to Germany, France or Holland we have the perfect package for you. From stag dos to corporate football away days we’ve got you covered. Just get in touch with us to see what packages we have to meet your needs and bring you an unforgettable away day experience.

 

The Dutch league has produced some of the world’s greatest players and an incredible style of football over the years and that is still true today. A mixture of attacking football, young stars, and old legends are what await the fans of Eredivisie this season making Holland a favourite for football away days. We have put together the five reasons for what makes this league one of the best in Europe and why it should be top of your list to visit.

 

 1. Goals 

What gets you off your feet at a match? Goals! This is a major reason why you should put Holland’s Eredivisie at the top of your away day visit list. With an average goals per game ratio of 3.34 this league produces the most goals on average out of all the other top European leagues (Belgium First Division A – 3.1, England’s Premier League – 2.92 and France’s Ligue 1 – 2.73).

The vast number of goals is largely down to the big emphasis on attacking, expansive football which has recently began to replace more pragmatic approaches that some managers adopt in the Premier League. Due to the lack of investment in Eredivisie compared with the PL and the other top European leagues the entire league is competitive with the handful of title contenders still having to battle for every point in their chase for silverware. Like any league they have bookies favourites to win. This year Ajax and PSV are set to battle it out for the crown. However, Feyenoord look to be in the mix for a Champions League spot after the return of a Dutch legend in January.

 

2. VAR 

The biggest innovation in football for decades will be introduced to Eredivisie this season after its success in Russia this summer. VAR has, at times, caused more controversy than it has stamped out but it can certainly keep the commentators busy and the fans talking. Overall, during its use at the World Cup it was effective in stopping bigger, physical teams from holding players in the box, particularly on set pieces.

VAR allows referees to stop the game and take a second look at potential incidents should they or their assistants be unclear or poorly positions to see it. Fans have called for it to be introduced into the top leagues but many have held off. Eredivisie could lead the way in how league matches are officiated. Nonetheless, it will certainly bring big drama to games and be a hot topic of conversation throughout the season.

 

3. Young Talent 

The Dutch league has long been the scouting ground for top clubs in Europe with Ajax seemingly raided every season of its top players that they have cultivated since youth. However, because of this many young and hungry players choose the Eredivisie to make a name for themselves. The league itself is very competitive and unpredictable meaning that if you are a young player with bags of talent you can make a big splash here and put yourself on the radar of scouts.

A few young stars worth looking out for this season include: Matthijs de Ligt a very promising centre back who is now on the radar of several big clubs. Luckily, Ajax were able to retain his services – for this season at least. Hirving Lozano made a big impact in Russia this year with incredible performances for Mexico against Germany and South Korea. This left winger has pace and quick feet making him, no doubt, a huge part of PSV’s title hopes this year. Finally, another winger but playing on the right for Ajax is 21 year old David Nernes. He is another one to keep an eye on as is he continues to perform we could see him sign for a top club in the coming seasons.

 

4. Dutch Legends 

Eredivisie is well documented regarding its development of youth players, particularly Dutch players. However, this season will see two Dutch legends return to the league for full seasons. The first is Daley Blind who completed a move back to Ajax after four fairly average seasons with Manchester United. He is still a fan favourite in Amsterdam and you will certainly hear them singing his name on his return this season.

The other is a true legend in football not just in Holland. The mighty RVP (Robin van Persie), who almost single-handedly helped Manchester United lift the Premier League when he signed from Arsenal in 2012 and scored 26 goals and help create a further 15. He will always be remembered for his incredible diving chipped header at the 2014 World Cup against Spain. Just take a second to enjoy that again. This season he lines up for Feyenoord who will be buoyed by his talents staying within their ranks. With five goals and one assist in 12 games in the league after joining in January, it shows that age is just a number and class is permanent.  

 

5. Unpredictability

One of the best things about this league is its unpredictability. Due to there not being the difference in squad value that there is in Premier League, such as when Burnley play Manchester City, it means that any team can get a result and no one is ever written off.  This factor mixed with the number of goals scored in this league makes it a top pick for a football away day. With Eredivisie you just never know who will win, keeping the fans on the edge of their seats all season long.

 

 

With all this in mind it’s hard to see how an away day to Holland can’t be a priority when you’re planning your next trip. Be it a stag do or corporate football away day we have packages to suit your needs. Contact us today to see what amazing experiences we have to offer.

August is upon us and all of the major European leagues are kicking off for the 2018/19 season. After a dramatic and exciting World Cup, the biggest stars in the game have returned to their clubs hungry for success in the new campaign. Despite Germany’s poor showing at the World Cup, the Bundesliga remains one of the best leagues in the world. It is the world’s most attended football league with a weekly average attendance of 44,646 in 2017/18 – it is only beaten in sport by American Football’s NFL which has a weekly attendance average of 67,405.

We know that you are planning your perfect European football trip for 2018/19 and football tours to Germany remain hugely popular. Before you book, here is our preview of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season which will help you decide on your destination this season.

 

Who will challenge Bayern Munich in 2018/19?

Bayern Munich are the keepers of the Bundesliga. Last season was Bayern’s 27th league title and their sixth consecutive championship. 12 out of the last 18 titles have been won by the Bavarian side with only Borussia Dortmund’s three titles and one each from Wolfsburg, Stuttgart and Werder Bremen breaking up the dominance. Led by 29 goal Robert Lewandowski, Bayern looked unstoppable under the guidance of manager Jupp Heynckes. With Niko Kovac taking over, his success last season with Eintracht Frankfurt has left him hungry for even more trophies – his Frankfurt side even beat Bayern in the DFB-Pokal cup final in May 2018.

With the 2018/19 Bayern squad still brimming with supreme quality, the question on everybody’s minds is can any team topple their dominance?

 

Borussia Dortmund 

Borussia Dortmund have been the usual challengers to the crown. The Black and Yellows had a magnificent start last season winning the first seven games. Form escaped them after that and they just about finished fourth, clinching a Champions League spot on goal difference. With new manager Lucien Favre, the Dortmund fans are hoping he brings his defensive solidity from Nice to the Signal Iduna Park. However, it is in attack where Dortmund need to strengthen if they want to win the Bundesliga. They are still missing the goals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and these need to be found in order to be genuine contenders.

 

Schalke 04 

Schalke were last season’s runners-up. This was an incredible achievement, considering the club has lost star players such as Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane and Joel Matip in recent years. This exodus has continued with Max Meyer moving to Crystal Palace on a free transfer this summer. Despite all this, Domenico Tedesco has made the team competitive again. He is eager to keep this going and Schalke will certainly be near the top again this season.


RB Leipzig 

Red Bull Leipzig had a disappointing campaign, as they narrowly missed out on a Champions League place last season. 2016/17 saw them push Bayern Munich all the way, so the squad is very capable of making a big challenge. With Ralf Rangnick returning to the club as manager a few years after he got them into the league in the first place, Leipzig fans are hoping he can bring success back to the club. Their squad still contains Timo Werner, Yussuf Poulsen, Emil Forsberg & Marcel Sabitzer so they have the talent available to challenge the top of the table.

 

Who are the new Bundesliga teams and how will they fare? 

At Football Road Trips, we are excited to see the promotion of Fortuna Dusseldorf to the Bundesliga. A popular football trip abroad with our customers, now you will be able to watch the club take on the best that German football has to offer. Their stadium the Esprit Arena has a capacity of 54,600, and deserves the biggest stage. Their coach Friedhelm Funkel set a new record for a sixth promotion to the top flight as a manager. His stabilising of the club after recent troubles will serve them well in the upcoming season. Star striker Rouwen Hennings will be hoping to bring his form to the Bundesliga to keep his side up.

FC Nurnberg return to the Bundesliga after their relegation back in 2014. They are one of the most successful teams in Germany having won the German Championship nine times (including one Bundesliga title) as well as four DFB-Pokal titles. Michael Kollner’s young squad has mostly been retained with few new faces. Some new transfers will be needed if they hope to stay in the top flight.

 

Teams to Watch in Bundesliga 2018/19

1899 Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim finished third last season and will be looking to surprise the big teams once again. The loss of Mark Uth is huge and his 17 goals will be missed. However, 31-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann is desperate to continue their success before he joins RB Leipzig next year.

 

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen finished 5th last season, just missing out on the Champions League but will be in the Europa League this season. They have added good additions to their squad including Mitchell Weiser and Lukas Hradecky and Paulinho as they aim to return to the Champions League or even challenge for the title.

 

Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt’s DFB-Pokal win has them hungry for more success. The transfers of Felix Wiedwald and Goncalo Paciencia will help support the likes of Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller as they hope to challenge for Champions League positions this term.

 

Our Bundesliga Prediction

Bayern Munich look unstoppable. The signing of Leon Goretzka has only added to their plethora of talent. With James Rodriguez staying on loan from Real Madrid, it is hard to look past Bayern for retaining their league crown again. Dortmund, Schalke and Leverkusen should make up the rest of the top four.

 

Top 4

  1. Bayern Munich
  2. Borussia Dortmund
  3. Schalke
  4. Bayer Leverkusen

 

Without quality additions, the newly promoted clubs will struggle. Fortuna Dusseldorf have a better chance as their squad has just enough quality to survive at least the relegation play-off. Freiburg were just above the relegation places last season, but they lack the squad required to survive this season.

 

Bottom 3

  1. Fortuna Dusseldorf
  2. Freiburg
  3. FC Nurnberg

 

Football Tours to Germany 

You can find all of our Football Road Trips to Germany in our packages. With trips added to watch Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach this season, there is no better time to watch top quality German football than now.

Contact us today for more information on our trips, stag dos and corporate football European away days.

 

The greatest football league on earth kicks off once again on the 10th of August and with a busy transfer window already along with three newly-promoted teams entering the fray, we all start to wonder – who will shine on this magnificent stage this season?

In this article we will analyse the potential rising stars looking to make a name for themselves this season along with the established big guns aiming to be top dog. And for you fantasy football scouts there could be some vital additions to your team listed below.

 

The New Boys On The Block 

 

Diogo Jota – Wolves

With 17 goals and 5 assists in Championship last season, Jota can be utilised on the wing or as striker and he’s not shy of the occasional penalty should his team require. He registered 46 shots on target and 37 off target while creating 49 big chances making him both creative and selfish.

This 21 year-old has made an impressive impact during his time at Wolves so far and has also seen success as part of the Portugal under 19’s, 21’s and 23’s. If he continues playing like has has been we could see a major club try to snap him up in the near future.

 

Joe Ralls – Cardiff

As seen we’ve in the World Cup this year, there has been an emphasis on no grappling from corners which makes set piece takers vital. Joe Ralls is the key man for all set pieces and penalties for Cardiff. Cardiff scored 21 set piece goals last season, more than any other Championship team and certainly a vital part of their promotion success.

The decline in the power of possession football has been evident in the World Cup this year with Spain (74% avg) and Germany (72% avg) both being knocked out early by smaller, more counter-attacking teams displaying this shift to direct, attacking football. Cardiff finished measly 21st in the Championship in terms of possession last season with an average of 45% possession and 59.4% pass accuracy but this shift could bode well for their direct style of play that wins lots of set pieces with Ralls ready to step up and create chances.

With Cardiff’s centre-back Morrison heading home 7 times last season this proves the importance of set-pieces in the modern game – he might even give Maguire a run for his money.

Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham

This young Englishman exploded onto the scene in a big way last season and was a massive part of their promotion success. He scored 16 goals and has 8 assists to his name which saw him pick up 5 awards including Championship Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season. Sessegnon has been extremely versatile for Fulham playing as both left-wing and left-back over the course of the season and making 48 appearances, making him indispensable to the club.

Look out for this young man with a point to prove in a major league as well as a potential future England star.

 

Golden Boys?

The chase for the Premier League Golden Boot starts again and there will be many eyeing their chances. To name a few favourites, Harry Kane who picked up the World Cup equivalent this year (albeit the majority of the goals were penalties) will be aiming to take it home again after Mo Salah’s 32 goals robbed it from him last season. Other favourites include: Romelu Lukaku, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino.

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Our Top Pick

Aubameyang, in only 13 games last season he scored 10 goals. That’s an average of 0.85 goals per match (gpm) with 24 shots and a conversion rate of 41.7 – a much higher conversion than other top premium forwards. Don’t forget he achieved this in an Arsenal side that struggled to produce results on the road and never really reached the form their fans have come to expect.

He is our tip for top scorer this year under new manager Emery, who emphasises on pressing high which Aubameyang thrived off in his Dortmund days. His blistering pace, along with the creativity of Arsenal’s midfield, should see him skip past many defencive back lines and his finishing is never in doubt. Arsene Wenger’s last gift to the club he spent over a decade at could well be this prolific scorer.

 

Time To Shine

New Chelsea manager, Sarri, plays traditional formation 4-3-3 with his wingers not expected to strack back and do any defensive work with an emphasis on staying high to attack. This means for players like Eden Hazard their defensive shackles will be removed and they will be free to cause problems high up the pitch.

Insigne, at left wing in 2016/17, scored 18 goals and got 9 assists in a Napoli side that challenged Juventus and Roma to the Italian title despite spending considerably less. Hazard is a far superior player will likely be moved to his favoured attacking left wing role which he played for Lille before signing for Chelsea where he scored 20 goals and got 16 assists. He has never had the opportunity to play there for Chelsea and will relish the opportunity to match the best in the world for scoring and assisting. This will be a nice change for him compared to being more of a team player role as he has done every season so far for Chelsea.

Hazard played a similar role in the Belgium squad and picked up 3 goals and 2 assists so we could see him really shine over the course of a Premier League season.

 

Big Spenders

West Ham have already spent close to £100m in the transfer market during this window, breaking their transfer record to sign 25 year-old Lazio winger Felipe Anderson (£38m), well-known Dortmund winger Andriy Yarmolenko (£20m) and promising 21 year-old defender Issa Diop (£25m) from Toulouse.

Despite all this investment it’s their current frontman, Marko Arnautovic, who has been in blistering pre-season form picking up 5 goals in 4 games so far. With more creativity in the team this season, his supply should increase perhaps making him one of the big hitters this season up top.

 

Bringing Up The Rear

Van Aanholt had more big chances than any other defender with 6 big chances over his last 18 games. He is on par with some of the top attacking players like Alexis Sanchez in terms of chances. He’s scored 4 goals and 1 assist in this period.

This pre-season he already has 2 goals and 2 assists (Both assists to Zaha who he seems to have a good connection with) and seems to be thriving under Hodgson’s defensive solidarity that lets him play as a constant attacking threat. We fully expect him to smash his 5 goals 1 assist from last season. Hodgson has had time to get his team into a structure he’s happy with and we saw this pay dividends towards the latter stages of last season, his first full season as Palace manager should be the perfect time for Van Aanholt pick up where he left off.

 

If all this talk of the start of the new season has got you itching for a football away day check out some of our awesome packages. These are great for stag-dos and corporate events and go to countries across Europe including Germany, Holland, France, and Belgium. Game on.

 

The biggest sporting extravaganza of 2018 has now passed us by and what a ride it was! The FIFA World Cup in Russia was one of the greatest tournaments in the history of football. Whilst some of the world’s best players showcased their talents, there were others that disappointed and under achieved on the biggest stage of all. As video technology waded its way into the biggest moments and conversations, even our own country had reason to celebrate and feel pride as England impressed everybody. For anybody that travelled to Russia, it was the ultimate football road trip!

It’s time to relive this amazing tournament so before you tear down your wall chart, grab a seat and take a read at our roundup of Russia 2018.

 

France are on top of the world

France may have started the group stage slowly with narrow and unconvincing wins but Les Bleus certainly stepped up their game when it mattered most. After bringing Olivier Giroud into the centre-forward position, the dangerous French attack suddenly clicked into gear. Kylian Mbappe picked up the young player of the tournament with four sumptuous goals from 19-year-old. Antoine Griezmann was quiet but still picked up four goals himself, benefitting from more penalties being given at the tournament. Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante bossed the midfield with Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti providing a tough rearguard action. They may not have been spectacular and their style of football was accused of being ‘anti-football’, but the streets of Paris, Lyon, Lens and beyond were celebrating France’s return to the top of the game.

 

Southgate’s Heroic Three Lions

Nobody expected England to get further than the Last 16 with some even harbouring hopes of a first quarter-final since 2006. Instead, we got to a first World Cup semi-final since 1990, a first ever victory by penalty shootout at a World Cup and a complete togetherness of a squad not seen since Euro 96. It is no wonder that the whole country got behind Gareth Southgate’s young team. Jordan Pickford was saving everything, Kieran Trippier created the most chances at the World Cup, Harry Maguire was heading everything and the team scored the most from set pieces. It was just so good to watch.

While they may have had an easier side of the knockout draw and when they did come up against competitive sides, a victory wasn’t forthcoming. However, this was a huge step in the right direction after the humiliation of losing to Iceland at Euro 2016. Football almost came home but at least Three Lions got to Number One again!

 

Harry Kane’s Golden Boot

One trophy that did come home was the Golden Boot. Kane had targeted the accolade at the start of the tournament, having been top goalscorer twice in the Premier League. The opening game certainly saw a statement of intent for the prize as he scored both England goals against Tunisia. He followed this up with a hat-trick against Panama and a penalty against Colombia. However, he was more of a spectator against Sweden and Croatia as England bowed out of the tournament at the semi-finals. Despite fading in the tournament, this was a huge achievement for Kane and he deserves great accolades.

 

The Impact of VAR

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was expected to have a huge impact on this World Cup and its presence was well and truly felt. Incidents that were missed by the referee was easily picked up by the myriad of cameras in the stadium, and the team of fully kitted officials watching from a studio in Moscow. Most notably, Neymar’s dive for Brazil against Costa Rica saw a penalty decision correctly overturned that otherwise would have gone unpunished.

 

The most obvious change was the huge amount of penalties given across the tournament. 29 were awarded with 22 scored and 7 missed – these were all new World Cup records. Games that would have finished scoreless were now having goals awarded after the intervention of VAR – only France vs Denmark finished 0-0 in the entire tournament. Although, whether all of those decisions were right is still open to debate, including the controversial Ivan Perisic handball decision in the final. VAR is here to stay and soon enough, every league in the world will have this system in place.

 

Belgium’s Best Ever Finish

Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ had high expectations at this tournament with many even predicting they would go all the way to victory. Alas, they did come unstuck against eventual winners France in a narrow 1-0 defeat at the semi-final stage. However, thanks to fantastic performances from Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, they achieved their country’s best ever finish of Third Place. The future looks bright for the Red Devils and we expect even more from them in the upcoming tournaments. It’s definitely worth a football trip to Belgium at Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels to see the next generation prepare for the future.

 

Germany’s Shock Exit

The defending World Champions Germany were expected to put on a strong defence of their trophy. The events that followed certainly shocked the world. Despite having the 6th most shots on goal in the tournament (72), Germany struggled for goals and ultimately lost two of their group games and crashed out of the tournament. No one likes seeing the big favourites go out early, as it can diminish the quality of a tournament. You could argue they were unlucky and some were even pointing to a current curse. Recent champions to go out at the Group Stage after winning the tournament include France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014). There will be no panic just yet, as the pool of current German talent playing across Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Hamburg is still the envy of the world. They will be back even stronger in Qatar 2022.

 

Will Russia 2018 be the Final World Cup of Messi & Ronaldo?

Two of the greatest footballers to ever play the game were once again expected to showcase their well-known talents to the biggest audience. Cristiano Ronaldo started strongly with a hat-trick in the first game against Spain before adding another in the next match versus Morocco. Lionel Messi only mustered one goal in Argentina’s victory over Nigeria. Both Argentina and Portugal were eliminated at the last-16 stage which meant both players went home early. Despite their incredible records, neither player has scored a goal in the World Cup knockout stage. With Ronaldo turning 37 and Messi turning 35 in 2022, it is highly likely that Russia 2018 was their last World Cup. However both players have shocked us before on a football field, so it wouldn’t surprise us if they both appeared again for one final chance at World Cup glory.

 

Has the World Cup inspired you to go on an epic football away day? At Football Road Trips, we create bespoke football travel packages and football weekend breaks for birthdays, stag-dos and corporate events. Contact us today about bespoke DIY football road trips.

 

The question has been popped and the best man has been selected, so now the planning for the big day has truly begun. Yes, we are talking about the Stag Do! It is the biggest job that could ever be bestowed on a man and you know that you have to get it right for your friend’s sake. Will it simply be a night on the town, a weekend of activities, a lads holiday, a football stag do or a classic stag weekend to Amsterdam? Whatever you decide, the groom deserves a stag do that he will never forget.

As stag do ideas are becoming more and more elaborate, it can be hard to keep on top of everything for the big event. Don’t panic, as Football Road Trips are here with our top tips on how to plan the perfect stag do.

 

1. Select a date

The all important date will be the day your stags will be counting down to in their calendars. For this reason, it is vital that you select a date where everybody is available. You don’t want the big day to clash with other events or weddings. The date selection also brings up the dilemma of when you would like to watch your favourite team, such as Dortmund, play. Should you watch them during a season opener, a winter game or an end of season clash where they could be chasing for the league title? Whatever the date, get as many of your stags together as possible but always remember it is the groom’s plans that you need to bear in mind the most.

 

2. Find the perfect location

The groom may have some big ideas of where he might want to go, but a best man must pick the perfect destination. The groom might remember a good night out in town or an activity somewhere nearby, but what about a trip to Europe? With Belgium, France, Germany and Holland in a reasonable distance, savouring the delights of European beer and football would certainly be considered perfect. If you book your stag do with Football Road Trips, you will not only take in one perfect location but two or three different countries. It’s what we do best!

 

3. Consider the budget

No stag do should break the bank for all participants, but a groom deserves the time of his life and for that you may have to a pay a little extra. Our incredible, once-in-a-lifetime football trips start from £589 per person, with bespoke packages available and DIY trips can be put together if required. Once you know how many stags you’ll have on your trip, submit your requirements online here and the experts will let you know how much it will cost. This is perfect way for all budgets and persons to be considered.

 

4. Manage your stags accordingly

Now, we know your lads can get a bit rowdy on the night itself which is very much allowed and encouraged! However, they need to get themselves organised so everything is completely arranged ahead of the stag do. It is up to you as the best man to manage all of the events of the trip. Making sure your stags pay on time is vital as any hassle over payments will be embarrassing for any groom. You will also want to make sure that all of your payments are paid securely. Football Road Trips is a member of the Travel Vault which allows us to offer our customers that piece of mind when booking with us, and you can book knowing your money is safe and your trip secure.

 

5. Consider every detail of your stag party

Once you have got your tickets to watch Royal Antwerp, Lyon or Hamburg, it is time to consider the little details that make a stag party one to remember. Stag do games and challenges are always fun little additions that keep the beer and banter flowing. You will also want to think about whether or not you will you insist on a dress code or fancy dress – but why wouldn’t you?!

How about turning your football trip into a Play & Watch trip, where you and your stags take on other groups in a football tournament before watching the professional game. You also want to make sure all transport arrangements are sorted. What about a luxury Mercedes Sprinter kitted out with Playstation 4’s and a beer fridge? That’s what you can get with your football stag do weekend with us, which will definitely be one to remember!

 

6. Keep your mates in the loop

Make sure you keep in contact with everybody in your group. Maybe you have decided on a change of leaving destination or that you have changed your trip to go to Bruges, Rotterdam and Paris because of the budget. Create a WhatsApp or Facebook group to make it easier for everyone to stay in the loop. Just remember to keep the groom away from all of your secret plans!

 

7. Let the experts plan your big weekend

Why not take all of the stag do stress away from yourself? Draft in the experts to create your bespoke football stag do weekend. Football away days aren’t the easiest to organise but we at Football Road Trips are the experts in this field. All you have to do is contact us with the dates of your stag do, where you want to leave from and your budget per person and we will give you a proposed itinerary for free within 48 hours. How is easy is that? By doing this you will feel relieved knowing the perfect stag do weekend will be arranged for you, and you can relax and enjoy it along with the rest of your mates!

Football Road Trips are experts in creating bespoke football packages for stag weekends. Contact us today to find out more about our football stag dos.

 

It’s June 2018 and the world’s favourite quadrennial football tournament is here; the FIFA World Cup. The globe is ready to descend on Russia as it hosts the tournament for the first time ever. With 12 stadiums in 11 cities set to stage the latest chapter in this long footballing story, the hopes and dreams of the 32 nations taking part are already being thought out. Expectation is high for a number of teams, and there are some nations who are feeling ecstatic just for qualifying for this festival of football.

Football Road Trips love a good trip abroad to watch the best football matches in the world, and we know some of you will be trekking to Russia to experience the tournament for yourself. The rest of us will be watching the games on the sofa or in the pub with a few mates. However you are going to enjoy the World Cup, take a look at our list of the 10 countries to watch out for this year in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

 

1. England

We could only ever start in one place, our beloved England. Gareth Southgate has named the third youngest ever England squad to play at a FIFA World Cup, which is allowing fresh faces to prove themselves at the highest level. Southgate’s new emphasis on bringing in young and exciting talent coupled with solid but attractive football, has got some quietly confident of the squad’s chances of success in Russia. With an unbeaten international season behind them and a positive atmosphere amongst the squad, England believe they can progress from a group containing Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Beyond that? We shall see.

 

Key player – Harry Kane

England’s new captain is the embodiment of Southgate’s new England; young and driven. The 24-year-old striker scored 41 goals for Tottenham Hotspur last season and is eager to bring that scintillating form to Russia.

 

2. Belgium

We love a European football tour to Belgium, mostly in part to their surplus of talent at the moment. Their “golden generation” may ply their trade away from Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels but their talented squad is the envy of the world. With the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne & Romelu Lukaku selected for the tournament, Belgium boast one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament. Many expect them to go far this time around, especially after the disappointment of losing to Wales at Euro 2016.

 

Key Player – Kevin De Bruyne    

The Manchester City playmaker was fizzing passes around defences in the Premier League all last season and he will no doubt orchestrate every Belgium attack in Russia. Look out for his deadly free-kicks as well.

 

3. Iceland 

Everybody loves an underdog, especially from a nation with a population the size of Coventry. Iceland were the conquerors of England as they shocked their way to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals. They’ve now qualified for their first World Cup and having been drawn in a group containing Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria. The team are confident that they can upset the odds again and reach another tournament knockout stage. Get ready to do the Viking clap again.

 

Key Player – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Iceland’s talismanic attacking midfielder is a man of many talents. Expect his free-kicks and long range efforts to trouble the goalkeepers in Russia.

 

4. Brazil 

Looking for a successful World Cup campaign to fight off any lingering nightmares of the 7-1 defeat to Germany four years ago, Brazil have been reborn under the management of Tite. The defence has worked on its organisation which has allowed the plethora of attacking talent to express themselves once again. Brazil are back and ready to show the world that they are the best team in the world for a sixth time.

 

Key Player – Neymar Jr

Neymar led his country to Olympic Gold in 2016 and was exceptional at the World Cup in 2014, until injury cruelly ruled him out of the semi-finals. At just 26, Neymar has 55 goals for his country and this deadly goalscoring is expected to continue this summer in Russia. He can play anywhere in attack so defences will find him very unpredictable.

 

 5. Argentina

Finalists four years ago in Brazil, Argentina are expected to mount another challenge for the trophy this year. Once more, Lionel Messi is along for the ride which could possibly be his last chance at World Cup glory. Despite leaving Serie A’s prolific goalscorer, Mauro Icardi out of the squad, Argentina still have a squad brimming with talent that will go far in this tournament.

 

Key Player – Lionel Messi

This is likely going to be Messi’s final chance to add a World Cup to his already bulging trophy cabinet. Messi is the finest player of his generation and he will be using all his tricks to make the 2018 World Cup his own.

 

 6. Germany

The current world champions are always one to watch at a World Cup. Popular with our football away days, Germany still has talent seeping from every corner of the country. The likes of Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Timo Werner will shine this year in a strong squad – they’ve even left in form Leroy Sane at home which shocked many. The majority of the squad can still be seen across Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Hamburg on our trips during the Bundesliga season. With a solid team unit, a very experienced coach and that frustrating ability of scoring accurate penalties, you wouldn’t bet against Germany retaining their crown in Russia.

 

Key Player – Thomas Muller

With ten goals during the last two World Cup’s, Thomas Muller is a proven goalscorer when it matters most for his country. A consistent creator as well as a scorer, Muller is still an ever-present threat in the German attack.

 

7. Portugal

The current European Champions stunned everybody as they beat hosts France at Euro 2016. Despite this success, many aren’t talking about Portugal as serious contenders for the World Cup. Their squad still contains some talent and any team that has Cristiano Ronaldo to call upon always has a chance to cause another upset.

 

Key Player – Cristiano Ronaldo

The current World Footballer of the Year is unstoppable on his day. He ended the club season in blistering form and his country will be looking to him for inspiration again in Russia.

 

8. Egypt

Mo Salah wasn’t born the last time Egypt qualified for a World Cup in 1990. His inspired form for Liverpool has translated to international football which has put Egypt back onto the international map. They will fancy their chances of getting out of a group containing Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay, which in itself will be an achievement.

 

Key Player – Mo Salah

The hopes of a nation rest on the shoulders of Mo Salah, as long as his one shoulder recovers in time for the tournament. If he’s fit, his fast dribbles and accurate finishing could get Egypt to the knockout stage.

 

9. Spain

The 2010 World Champions dominated world football between 2008-2012. Their star may not be shining as high as it used to, after crashing out of the group stage in 2014, but Spain are still a team to watch. Their team may be a little old now but their tournament experience means they remain a threat to any opponent.

 

Key Player – David Silva

Another Manchester City playmaker to watch, David Silva continues to pull the strings for Spain and will need to be marshalled to keep Spain under control.

 

 10. France

Didier Deschamps has arguably compiled the strongest squad of players at the 2018 World Cup. France are spoilt for choice when it comes to talent with a possible 33 top-level players that would be welcomed into any World Cup squad. The 23 that are going are expected to do well, with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele expected to shine. This incredible squad sees Les Blues’ best chance of winning the tournament since they hosted it in 1998. The streets of Lens, Paris and Lyon await to celebrate world triumph.

 

Our Football Road Trips are the perfect solution for your stag dos, birthday parties and corporate events. We also offer trips to Holland, who still have good football but didn’t quite make it to the World Cup this year. Contact us today for more information on how you can create your DIY football trip.

This Sunday FRT is taking our annual trip to the German Supercup match- the German equivalent of England’s Charity Shield.

And this year it’s a biggie. As Bayern Munich take on arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Despite having won the Bundesliga for the past four years and the DFB-Pokal three times in that period, Bayern haven’t managed to win the Supercup once in the last four years.

Wolfsburg won the Supercup last year, beating Bayern 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

And in the two previous Supercup ties it was Dortmund themselves who beat Bayern, 2-0 in 2014 and 4-2 in 2013.

So, Bayern haven’t won the one-off cup match in four years despite having won the league at a canter for the last four years. Why is that?

It’s not because they can’t perform in knockout games as they’ve won the domestic cup three times in the last four years and they’ve regularly progressed into the latter stages of the Champions League.

Bayern have been criticised for not taking the match seriously in the last few seasons seeing as the Supercup is essentially a glorified friendly and because it is so close to the start of the season.

Whereas Dortmund have won the Supercup a record five times and seem to take the competition more seriously than their rivals- maybe because it’s an easy chance for silverware where Bayern normally clean up domestically.

Ahead of this tie Bayern’s Thomas Mueller has come out and said his side do take the Supercup seriously even if it’s not as ‘significant’ as the Bundesliga or the DFB-Pokal.

Bayern are expected to be at close to full strength for the game with Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa all working to be fit for the game. Though Arjen Robben and Jerome Baoteng will miss out through injury.

Seeing as its Bayern vs Dortmund, and Bayern haven’t won the Supercup in four years- it’s already a bit of a grudge match so there’ll be a few tackles flying in.

Some of those will be going in on Mats Hummels who will be making his debut for Bayern following a summer move from Dortmund. Another man who may be on the side of some heavy tackles will be Mario Goetze who made the switch from Bayern back to Dortmund (where he began his career) this summer.

Dortmund are also set to field a strong side with new signings Andre Schuerrle and Ousmane Dembele joining Goetze in the likely line up.

Given that and that both sides have had strong pre-seasons it’s going to be one hell of a match. But we at FRT are predicting that Bayern will end their drought in the Supercup with a 3-1 win.

Matt Bullin

Photo by Markus Unger via Flickr