Coming to the home of football. London. UK

London is apart from my home town Vienna my favorite City. Having lived there in the 1990s for more than three years, I try to come back a couple of times every year. I also love football. What better combination than hitting London, the home of football.

Since the early 1990s I have been an avid Chelsea FC supporter. The “Blues” at “The bridge” (the stadium nicknamed after its location at tiny Stamford Bridge) has seen many glorious highlights, but also downs during those three decades.

During the reign of Roman Abramovich as club owner from 2004 to 2022, the Blues have won the Champions League twice, and both the Premier League and the FA Cup five times each.

Chelsea FC has a rich tradition dating back to its founding in 1905 and commands a loyal fan base all across the world.

Frank Lampard – depicted on the Wall of fame right next to the stadium – is one of the greatest Chelsea FC legends of all time. He appeared in 429 matches over the span of 13 seasons. Unfortunately, most recently he had less luck as the Club’s manager.

So off I went to watch the Champions League quarter final super match versus Real Madrid, the current reigning Champions League Winners. Real is at that point undisputedly one of the best football teams on the planet.

The “Biancos” (the “Whites”) have some of the best players in world in their squad. The Austrian native David Alaba is certainly one of the best defenders around.

The German Toni Kroos has been Real’s “brain” and driving force in the midfield for several seasons (alongside Luca Modric).

And finally, Karim Benzema is the striker with the killer instinct and the main goalgetter for the Madrilenes.

When attending big matches with star players, I prefer to get early into the grounds to watch them during their warm up procedure.

It is fascinating to observe the superstars – in this case the Real Madrid ones – during their pre-match routine. from stretching…

…to match playing situations such as passes, crosses, and headers.

Especially impressive for me is watching goalkeepers warming up, as they jump from one side to the other within seconds. Thibaut Courtois played for Chelsea FC 2014-2018, but is now is the no 1 between the goal posts at Real. He was not warmly welcome by the crowd.

On that special evening my “Boys in Blue” sadly stood literally with their backs to the wall. They lost against Real and dropped out of the Champions League. Obviously, it is not a shame to lose against one of the best teams in the world.

After the highlight at Stamford Bridge I moved on a few miles in West London to Loftus Road. This is home to one of the most traditional football clubs – the Queens Park Rangers, founded in 1882.

Loftus Road has been home to QPR since 1907, and is therefore one of the oldest football grounds in London.

The Rangers have seen glorious times. More recently, however, they are playing “The Championship”, England’s second highest professional football league. They even fight relegation.

I was struck by the high level of technical skills, speed and man to man fight. The level I saw is superior to the one in some country’s highest league. A crowd of 14,000 cheered a 1-1 draw against Norwich, which brought QPR one step closer to their aim of not being relegated.