“We’re all going on a European tour!”
“We’re in the Champions League man! Dilly ding dilly ding come on!” – Claudio Ranieri
Adrian and I (Ross) applied for tickets for our away tickets in Porto in September and finding out later in the month that we had secured our place through Thomas Cook Sport.
With City’s poor form in the bread and butter of the Premier League, we turned our attention to the more successful campaign of the Champions League qualifying for the knockout stage after 5 unbeaten matches (not bad for our Champions League debut!).
Adrian picked me up at 4:20am making the short journey to East Midlands Airport. We parked the car in the long stay car park which we booked in advance and walked to the terminal building.
We arrived at the check in desks just as they opened which saw us ‘fly’ through check in and security checks.
After a 2 hour wait in the departures lounge, exploring the nearby WH Smiths and buying hot drinks from Burger King, our gate was opened and we were now ready to board the plane. The airplane departed East Midlands at 7:00am.
We arrived on time in Porto at 9:30am. After having our passports checked, we made our way to the coach which would take us into the city centre.
The coach dropped us off on the south side of the river where the vast majority of port is made.
We walked over the Dom Luís I Bridge and walked along the Douro River. We decided to go to a cafe for a snack (Pastel de Nata) and a drink (black coffee… well more like espresso).
We then made our way up the hill in an attempt to find our bus stop for our City Sightseeing tour bus.
We visited the majority of the city centre viewing key landmarks such as Porto Cathedral, São Bento, Clérigos Tower and much more.
On route was the home of Boavista FC, Estádio do Bessa Século XXI. We chose to hop off and explore which we later found to be a rather difficult stadium to access from the outside. We asked at the stadium reception if we could take a few photos of inside the stadium. The gentleman on reception welcomely shown us through getting excellent views from the corporate area whilst offering us a free match programme from a recent international friendly the stadium hosted.
We made our way back to the bus stop and hopped on when the bus eventually arrived. After we got on, the bus driver had an issue with the doors. Unfortunately the doors would not stay shut which cost us time exploring Porto.
When we eventually got moving and started to explore the coast, the route was disrupted by a diversion in place for roadworks meaning we missed the excellent views of the Atlantic Ocean.
We hopped off near the Arrábida Bridge and made our way to the city centre on foot in an attempt to get some food.
We eventually found a place close to the old tram line and near the river called Cozzza Rio. Adrian ordered the grilled steak whilst I (Ross) ordered the grilled salmon both with a beer each.
With evening light starting to fade, we took the opportunity to visit Estádio do Dragão whilst it was still daylight to get better photos outside. We took the Metro from Sao Bento Station changing at Trindade for Estádio do Dragão.
After we took photos of the stadium, we made the short walk to FC Porto’s previous home, Estádio das Antas which has since been demolished with the one floodlight remaining.
Once we had taken a few photos, we found a cafe near the old stadium where we could get a snack (Pastel de Nata) and a drink (black coffee… well more like espresso once again!) Before ordering a bottle of Super Bock each for €1!
With time pressing, we made our way to the stadium ready for the various searches and ticket checks.
According to Wikipedia, the Estádio do Dragão (or Dragon Stadium) is an all-seater football stadium located in Porto and the current home ground of FC Porto. It has a capacity of 52,000, making it the second largest football ground in Portugal.
Construction works began in late 2001, and were complete in November 2003, some months after what was expected, since in February 2002, Porto mayor Rui Rio changed the estate distribution, criticizing the plan for including high-scale housing and shopping for the area. These actions forced the chairman of FC Porto, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, to halt all building operations, which were only resumed after a consensus was reached.
Designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Salgado and built by Portuguese contractor Somague, it cost €97,755,318, of which €18,430,956 was subsidized by the government. To help underwrite costs, each stand carries one or two sponsor names: Super Bock (south), tmn (east), meo (west), and Coca-Cola (north stand). Away fans are placed in the left corner of the north stand, while home Ultra groups, Super Dragões and Colectivo Ultras 95, occupy the south stand and the north stand, respectively, like on the old stadium.
The stadium was inaugurated on November 16, 2003, with a match against FC Barcelona, which featured the debut of a 16-year-old Lionel Messi in the Catalan side. Porto won 2–0 with goals by Derlei and Hugo Almeida. Due to severe turf problems, however, Porto was forced to return and play in the old Estádio das Antas, until the turf was replanted by mid-February 2004.
An embarrassing night in Portugal for around 3,000 City fans as their side of bit part players were well and truly blown apart by FC Porto who needed to win in order to qualify.
City had already won the Champions League group so with a big Premier League games coming up Claudio Ranieri decided to rest many and included just 3 regulars in his starting 11.
How that plan backfired as FC Porto who still needed something from the game thrashed the English champions, who looked anything but!
An easy header by Andre Silva in 6th minute, a left foot volley from Corona in the 22nd minute and a back heel from Brahimi in 43rd minute made it 3-0 at half time.
Ranieri was forced into some substitutions at the interval and although the second half was a little better, it couldn’t have been any worse.
The goals though were only for FC Porto, a shirt pull resulted in a penalty and a second for Andre Silva and with City’s defence torn apart yet again Diogo Jota fired a shot through Hamers legs for 5-0 .
The FC Porto keeper had no saves to make with the only efforts worth mentioning for Leicester were a header from Okazaki which was on target but offside and a rising shot from Ulloa that clipped the crossbar at the death.
The defeat creates several unwanted English records in Champions League football.
I’m afraid a rather embarrassing evening for all, an inept display by a hurriedly put together team of squad players.
If they get a positive result on Saturday against Man City the manager will be vindicated in his selection policy, if not I fear the only thing left is a change of voice and approach.
After the match, we were told over the PA System that Leicester City supporters would have to remain in their seats 20 minutes. We eventually left the stadium by our coach back to Porto Airport.
The owner of Leicester City made a brief appearance in departures on his way back to the plane where he was greeted with cheers and applause.
Shortly after, the Leicester City team made a brief appearance on their way to their airplane greeted with boos and chants relating to their poor performance.
We started boarding our airplane at 11:45pm and departing Porto Airport not long after.
We landed back at East Midlands at around 2:30am following a very subdued flight home with only the inflight meal to look forward to. We eventually arrived home at 3:30am meaning it was a whole 24 hour trip to Porto.
Result aside, Adrian and I really enjoyed our trip and felt we made the most of the time we had in the wonderful city Porto.
European trips like this must always be enjoyed should your team ever be fortunate to get the chance to play overseas. Adrian has been fortunate enough to have witnessed Leicester City play in Europe before when he visited Athletico Madrid in 1997 during their UEFA Cup campaign (the younger generation of City supporters like myself wouldn’t remember that!).
We hope that Leicester’s incredibly poor form improves before the last 16 of the Champions League and before it’s too late in the Premier League.
Overall Ground Quality : 8/10
Ease of getting there : 7/10
Atmosphere : 7/10
Programme : N/A
View of Action : 5/10
Quality of the game : 6/10
The “football” feeling : 9/10
Chances of coming here for a random game : 1/10
Legroom : 10/10
Surrounding area : 8/10
Overall : 61/100