Ground: Arena Thun
Date: 4th August 2011
Match: Thun - Palermo 1-1 (UEFA Europa League, qualifying)
Attendance: 7 227
Since I decided to visit Zürich vs Standard Liege on Wednesday evening the choice for Thursday was quite easy, Thun vs Palermo in the Europa League. For logistic reasons it was better for me to stay in Basel so after leaving my nice, but expensive, 4-star hotel in Zürich I made the short journey to Basel on Thursday morning. As I left Basel train station I was approached by a man and a woman asking if I was a tourist. I replied Yes and looked a bit bewildered. They worked for the local paper and since the Swiss Franc has become so expensive (well, that was something I could agree with) they wanted to know if it had affected my travelling, now and in the future. I told them I was in Switzerland for football but would think twice before coming here again etc. I then had had my picture taken and could continue to my hotel. Once there it turned out the young female receptionist was a big fan of FC Basel and once again it could be noted how football is a good way of getting to know people you meet for the first time.
A couple of hours later I set off for Thun. Thun is situated in central Switzerland and a 90 minute journey from Basel. There is a big lake east of Thun named Thuner See. In 1979 I stayed for two weeks in Interlaken which is on the other side of Thuner See. Despite the warm weather I decided to walk to the ground, Arena Thun, and made my way to the lake as well. Arena Thun was opened in July 2011 and the match against Palermo was actually the fourth ever match in the stadium. The capacity is 10 000 and all four stands are similar to each other. I guess the ground serves it purpose but for groundhoppers it is not a "must ground".
First leg of this tie ended 2-2 and even if the match wasn´t too entertaining there was always a nerve to the encounter. Palermo, backed by 300 fans, took the lead in the second half but Thun equalised and could hold to a 1-1 draw and progress to the next round. On the way back to Thun Bahnhof I found out there was a bus shuttle service which I of course used. One hour later my train left Thun and by midnight I was back in Basel. Tomorrow I will be returning to Germany but I fell asleep so quickly I didn´t have much time to reflect on that.
Arena Thun at night
Outside Arena Thun
View of play
After the match