Date:Tuesday October 7 2008
Pompey fans naturally focus on only one team in the group that was drawn this morning and that is of course AC Milan but all in all we could have had a worse group. A big advantage is that all the teams are in Western Europe so there are no long hauls necessary.
Pompey start their Group campaign in the shadow of where they have just left off the first round, in northern Portugal but this time in Braga. The game will be played on Thursday 23 October kick off to be decided by Channel 5. There is no time to plan the trip but at least we have been there before. We would have liked to visit other countries but that is the luck of the draw and this is not a bad draw.
Braga qualified for the UEFA cup by winning the Inter Toto cup. Their only major domestic honour was in winning the Portuguese Cup back in 1966. In the UEFA cup first round they beat Artmedia, the Slovakian champions, 6-0 on aggregate. They shared a goalless draw with Vitoria in Guimaraes on Sunday.
Their stadium the AXA Stadium has a capacity of 30,000 and was built for the Euro 2004 championships. It is built on the site of a quarry and is carved out of the side of a hill and one end of the stadium is illuminated rock. It is considered one of the world`s most beautiful football grounds. They play in Arsenal style red shirts with white sleeves.
Fratton Park will hold possibly the greatest match in its history when AC Milan visit on Thursday 27th November. The Rossoneri are one of the world`s great clubs and no have them visit in a competitive game will be a dream come true for all fans.
They beat FC Zurich 4-1 over two legs to qualify for the group stage but are currently not in the best form in Italy only drawing 0-0 with bottom club Cagliari at the weekend.
Understandably a lot of fans wanted to visit the San Siro where the honours board is as large as the 83,000 stadium. They have won Serie A 17 times, the Italian Cup on 5 occasions; in Europe they have seven Champions League/European Cup titles, the Super Cup on five occasions and the UEFA Cup twice. Just for good measure you can add four World Club championships.
We have link of course with AC Milan having sold them Mark Hateley in 1984 for £915,000 plus the promise of a friendly. We have had a long wait for that game, nearly 25 years but at least it has been upgraded!! Mark became a hero on the red side of Milan once scoring the winner against rivals Internazionale.
We must all now pray that the TV bosses do not move this game to a stupid kick off time. And will Pompey stick to their promise of £20 per ticket?
Wolfsburg will be the second away stop in the group when Pompey drop in on Thursday 4th December. Wolfsburg is a city in Lower Saxony which is in northern Germany. Their stadium also has a capacity of 30,000.
They qualified for this season`s UEFA cup by finishing 5th in Bundesliga last season and defeated Rapid Bucharest 2-1 in the first round. To date they have won no major German honours.
There is also a Pompey link here because Andres D`Alessandro joined on loan from the German club in January 2006 and many would have liked him to stay but he had his heart set on playing Spain; a venture which sadly failed in truth.
Pompey fans get their Christmas off to an early start with the visit of Dutch side Heerenveen on Wednesday 17th December. Curiously Heerenveen reached this stage by beating the other Portuguese Vitoria from Setubal 6-3 on aggregate.
The Dutch club who qualified for the UEFA cup by finishing 5th in Eredivisie last season are currently lying 4th after just 5 games and thumped Ajax 5-2 at the weekend. Their best position in the league was runner up in 1999/2000.
Heerenveen is approximately 50 miles north east of Amsterdam in northern Holland. Their ground has a small capacity of 26,000 - well that is 30% bigger than ours!!
More to come
That is a just a very quick look at the opposition in the group stages. The Vital Pompey team will keep you right up to date with all the news as things develop. So join us now by clicking below.
Date:Tuesday October 7 2008
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