Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Le Mans & Switzerland August/September 2012

A ‘long weekend’ trip starting with Le Mans in France and then on to Switzerland for three more matches.

Easyjet from Luton to Paris CDG then TGV to Le Mans.

Which can certainly occupy the visitor for some hours with its very well preserved old town, Roman fortifications and some tempting looking restaurants.
I succumbed to the tourist attractions in bright, sunny weather but resisted the lunchtime meal instead settling for a baguette.
What it does lack is cyber cafes, at least one that is open as most were either permanently closed or shut for Friday prayers. In fact there were more specialist electronic cigarette shops.

31st August Le Mans 3 Clermont Foot 1 in Ligue 2 5,120

Le Mans now play in a newish stadium (or rather arena) located not far from the famous 24-hour racing circuit and conveniently at the end of one of the tram lines.
The fans who turned out left plenty of space in this 25,000 capacity ground which is clearly setup to cater for larger games.
They included twenty or so from Clermont who, I think, complained about the earlier than typical 6.45pm start time.

Striker Cisse scored two goals for the home side and they added a third before the visitors managed a glancing header from a free kick for their consolation.
Le Mans played well to push Foot near to the bottom of the league.
One possible local player for the future was the young, Ivorian, central defender Mory Kone.

I took the tram back to the centre and had some red wine before bed.

1st September Lausanne Sport 0 Grasshoppers 2 Super League 5,800

The inhabitants were opening their shutters as I walked to the station in Le Mans for the morning
TGV, via Paris, to Lausanne in the french-speaking part of Switzerland.

Upon arrival I walked up the large hill to my hotel and, later, onward to the Stade de la Pontaise.
Which is better suited as an athletics venue (although it was used during WC 1954) with its track, wide ends and curved roofed stands.

Some 300 Hoppers fans certainly provided plenty of pyrotechnics behind the left end goal and their team went on to deliver a result.
The crucial first goal was headed in by central defender Vilotic - who proved the highest Hopper of all.

Sub. Abrashi struck in the final minute but by then the home side were beaten and their fans frustrated.

2nd September Luzern 1 Young Boys 2 Super League 12,874

From french to german (speaking that is) and the picturesque city of Luzern.
Time for some snaps of the iconic river and towers and then a stroll to the rebuilt Swissporarena nicely kitted out in dark blue.

Again the away fans, 400 or so, produced the fireworks but the home ultras also kept up good support throughout.
Despite that the home side side were fairly limited only getting a late consolation by defender Puljic.

Earlier on the home goalie had carried over a Farnerud left footer to gift the Boys the opener.
Useful Venezuelan Gonzalez then scored the clinching goal from a breakaway.

I mingled with the heavy police presence as the away fans were escorted onto their trains, managed to retrieve by bag and got on the 16.18 to Bellinzona.
Which passed some stunning scenery along the way.

In Bellinzona I enjoyed some local wine and an escalope milanese whilst the locals strolled around, as in Italia.

3rd September Bellinzona 1 Aarau 2 Challenge League 1,500 (100 away)

The final game on this trip was at the Stadio Communale which is tree-lined and overlooked by mountains in a city with loads of scenery on offer, not least its three famous castles.
The ground is in the old style with a track, covered main stand and various sections of terrace including a portion at one end for the away fans.

I thought it was a decent turnout as the home side are clearly having some difficulties.
However the locals would go home disappointed with only a late cross/shot from veteran Hakan Yakin as a late consolation.

Before that the league leaders went ahead when Udinese-bound full back Widmer popped up to head in a cross.
The second on 81 minutes was thumped in by sub. Foschini and overall Aarau were in control in a game played in dry fairly mild conditions.

To finish two Ticino weissbiers as a nightcap.
And a return via the business city of Zurich where the Starbucks was filled with suits and laptops and the airport full of designer labels.

More pictures at

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