BeNe Clubs in Europe: Qualifying rounds week 4

The same six BeNe clubs from last week took the field in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League last week. It was another stellar week for Netherlands, while Belgium had a less-than-solid performance.

Here is a look back at what the Dutch and Belgian clubs did in Europe, as well as the coefficient points won.

Netherlands: More and more wins, even wider gap with France

The Dutch clubs continued to dominate in Europe, as PSV, Twente and AZ were again involved in the action. They could not ask for better, and after last week’s results, things are looking even better for the Dutch.

After a convincing 4-1 win in the first leg, PSV went to Austria for their return match against Sturm Graz in the Champions League third qualifying round. Despite conceding the opening goal 26 minutes in, PSV came storming back, equalizing six minutes later. By halftime they led on the night, and by full-time they added a third. Joey Veerman, Luuk de Jong and Ricardo Pepi were the goalscorers for the visitors as they prevailed 3-1 on the night. With their 7-2 aggregate success, PSV moves on to face Rangers -who defeated Servette 3-2 on aggregate – in the playoff round. For the second year running, the two will meet in this round, with PSV looking for a better result than last time out.

Twente went away to the Latvian capital to battle Riga FC un their Conference League Q3 decider. After winning the first leg 2-0 at home, Twente was in a good position to advance. In the end, the Dutch team moved on with a 3-0 victory that evening. Goals came from Daan Rots, Gijs Besselink, and Naci Ünüvar. Overall, it was a solid performance from Twente, who proceeds to the playoff round with a 5-0 aggregate success. Waiting for them there is Turkish giant Fenerbahçe, who got past Maribor 6-1 over two legs. This will be quite a match in the playoffs.

Finally, AZ played at home in the Conference League, looking to finish off Andorran club FC Santa Coloma. Having won 1-0 in the away leg, Pascal Jansen’s side hoped to have an easier time at home. On this occasion, a goal in each half did the trick as AZ won 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate. Ruben Van Bommel and substitute Mayckel Lahdo were the goalscorers for last season’s Conference League semifinalists, who got the job done. Next for AZ is Norwegian side Brann, who came from behind in their third qualifying round tie to knock out Portugal’s Arouca 5-4 across the two legs.

Once again, Netherlands had a perfect week from their three clubs, resulting in them earning 0.600 coefficient points. As a result, the country is now on 2.300 points on the season and 53.600 points in the five-year ranking. There was even more good news from a Dutch coefficient standpoint. Although Marseille won on the night against Panathinaikos in the Champions League, the Ligue 1 club lost on penalties, falling to the Europa League group stage. Since Marseille will not play in the playoff round of the Champions League, that is less chances for France to earn more points. Netherlands’ lead over the French has grown to over 1.500 points, and could grow to over 3.000 points before the group stage commences.

Belgium: Club Brugge domninates again, Gent falters, Genk stunned late on

The Belgian clubs had a largely disappointing week in Europe, as only Club Brugge managed to win. They will want better performances in Europe over the next two weeks, which will be decisive in how well Belgium does in continental play this season.

It was Gent who played first on Thursday. Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s men played away to Poland’s Pogon Szczecin in the Conference League. Holding a 5-0 lead from the home leg, De Buffalo’s were never in any real danger of elimination in this tie. Yet, a sloppy error by Davy Roef, combined with an excellent cross saw Pogon come away with a 2-1 home win. Hugo Cuypers reduced the deficit in second half stoppage time, but Gent’s perfect start to the season ended in Poland. Despite the 2-1 defeat, they progress to the playoff round with a 6-2 aggregate score. Next for them is Cypriot regulars APOEL Nicosia, who eliminated Dila Gori 3-0 in their tie.

Club Brugge, 5-1 winners at home to KA, made the trip to Iceland for the second leg. The matches in essence a formality given Blauw Zwart’s advantage. However, that would not stop Club from achieving another 5-1 victory in Reykjavik. Dedryck Boyata and Michal Skoras sent Ronny Deila’s men on their way, before Roman Yaremchuk scored a second half hattrick to make the evening even better for the Belgians. KA finished with 10 men, not that it made much of a difference. A 10-2 scoreline over the two legs sends Club into the next round, where they will battle Osasuna. Quite a challenging tie awaits the West Flanders side, who will not have it easy.

Genk had the most difficult task of the Belgian trio. Down 1-0 in their Europa League tie with Olympiakos Piraeus, the Smurfs returned home with work to do. Fortunately for them, a Joseph Painstil penalty half an hour in saw them level things on aggregate. Yet, things took a turn for the worse in the second half. Painstil received a straight red for kicking out at an opponent. From there, it became more challenging for Genk. In the end, a 96th minute winner from the Greeks saw them progress 2-1 on aggregate at Genk’s expense. The European journey is not yet over for Wouter Vrancken’s side, who will face Turkish debutant Adana Demirspor in the playoff round of the Conference League. Adana won 7-4 against Osijek in the previous round.

As for coefficient points, Belgium received just 0.300 more points courtesy of Club Brugge’s win and Genk’s draw. The total on the season now sits at 1.500 points for Belgium. Over the last five seasons, Belgian sides have accumulated 35.600 points, which has them in eighth spot in that ranking. The next two weeks will likely determine how well Belgium will do this season from a coefficient standpoint Much will depend on Genk, Club Brugge and Gent and how many of them will join Antwerp and Union St. Gilloise in the group stages this fall.

David Parkes

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