BeNe Clubs in Europe: Qualifying rounds week 1

Three Belgian sides and one Dutch club took the field last week in the first legs of the Champions League and Europa Conference League second qualifying round. The four teams went unbeaten, with three of them winning.

Here is a look back at what went down, and what it means for each country’s coefficient.

Belgium: Big wins for Club Brugge and Gent

It was a solid start to the European campaign for Belgian football. Two of their three teams won easily at home, while the other drew on the road. After the record-breaking 14.200 points last term, this is a solid start in attempting to better that tally.

Genk was the first side to take the field, travelling to Switzerland for their Champions League tie. Awaiting them there was the Super League runner-up Servette. There was plenty of goalmouth action in this match, with Genk taking the lead in the 21st minute. Toluwalase Arokadare got his head on a corner to put the visitors in front. Servette would not be denied, however, and would find an equalizer 12 minutes from time courtesy of a Steve Rouiller strike. The tie is finely poised heading into Wednesday’s decider.

Thursday saw Club Brugge host Danish side AGF Aarhus in their Europa Conference League first leg. It did not take long for Ronny Delia’s side to show their dominance, leading after just 10 minutes via Tajon Buchanan. While the Danes did well to stay in the tie, Mats Rits and Hugo Vetlesen added second half markers to put Club Brugge into a commanding position. Blauw-Zwart prevailed 3-0, and is likely to progress to the third qualifying round.

The same can be said for Gent. Hosting Slovak side Zilina in their Conference League tie, De Buffalo’s put in a dominating performance to win 5-1. Gift Orban continued where he left off, opening the scoring midway through the first half. Julien De Sart doubled Gent’s lead early in the second half, before Hugo Cuypers and Tsuyoshi Watanabe put the East Flanders club out of reach. Despite going down a man, Žilina did score once via substitute Adrian Kaprálik. However, Cuypers added a fifth a fee moments before the end to keep the four-goal cushion. Gent’s 5-1 success sees them almost sure to progress.

Overall, a 2-1-0 week to start the season is quite good for Belgium. Although Genk could not hold on to the lead, the country still earned 0.500 coefficient points. They are set to stay eighth in the five-year country coefficient ranking throughout the season, with a current total of 34.900 points.

Netherlands: Twente jumpstarts the season with a win

Also looking to build off a solid 2022/23, Netherlands saw their first European team take to the pitch as Twente welcomed Swedish club Hammarby.

In a match where Twente had more of the chances, it took just one goal to decide the game. It came in the 53rd minute, as the host’s Sem Steijn found the back of the net. In the end, a 1-0 result gives Twente a narrow advantage going into the return leg on Thursday. They may rue not scoring more goals, nevertheless, they have the lead.

Twente’s victory added 0.200 to the Dutch five-year coefficient. That widens the gap between them and France in the race for fifth place in the ranking. The Dutch now sit on 52.300 points in the five-year ranking. As France does not have a team playing until the third qualifying round, next week presents another opportunity for Twente to add onto the Dutch coefficient.

David Parkes

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