Dutch Clubs in Europe: Playoff Round

Over the last two weeks, four Dutch teams took part in the playoff round across the three UEFA club competitions. PSV (Champions League), Ajax (Europa League), AZ, and Twente (both Europa Conference League) were involved.

Here is a look back at how they all did, and how much they managed to earn for the Dutch coefficient.

PSV dominates Rangers, qualifies for UCL group stage

In what was a repeat of a Champions League playoff round tie from last summer, PSV exacted their revenge on Rangers, beating them 7-3 on aggregate. This means the Eindhoven-based club will participate in the UCL proper for the first time since 2018/19.

The first leg, which took place in Glasgow, saw PSV dominate proceedings, yet they were twice behind. On both occasions, however, they managed to find an answer. Ibrahim Sangaré and Luuk de Jong were the goalscorers for PSV in what was an entertaining 2-2 draw at Ibrox.

The second leg was a completely different story. Not only did PSV dominate, but this time, they finished their chances. Ismaël Saibari’s brace kickstarted what turned out to be a rout. Despite a James Tavernier goal, Peter Bosz’s side never faltered, with de Jong and Joey Veerman adding further goals. A Connor Goldson own goal completed PSV’s goal haul as they came away as worthy 5-1 winners on the night and 7-3 victors on aggregate.

Ajax qualifies for Europa League proper with little trouble

In their Europa League playoff round clash, Ajax made short work of Bulgarian side Ludogorets, prevailing 4-2 on aggregate. It was a rather comfortable win for Ajax, who is in the Europa League group stages for the first time since 2016/17.

The first leg was the game where the 1991/92 UEFA Cup winners did their damage. A Mohammed Kudus hattrick did the trick, with Brian Brobbey scoring the other goal in a 4-1 win. Ajax was in complete control of the game and fully deserved the win.

The second leg saw Ludogorets earn a 1-0 win at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, courtesy of a Matias Tissera goal just past the hour mark. That would be the best it got for the Bulgarians, who still fell 4-2 over the two legs. A deserved win for Ajax in the end as they are back in the Europa League proper.

AZ made to work against Brann

AZ Alkmaar, fresh off their semifinal showing in the Conference League last spring, was in it tough in their playoff round tie. Taking on Norwegian club SK Brann, they needed penalties to progress in what was a closely contested affair.

In the first leg at the AFAS Stadion, AZ fell behind to a Niklas Castro goal just before the hour mark. They would not be behind for long though, as Pantelis Hatzidiakos leveled the score 12 minutes later. The match ended 1-1, with AZ again failing to convince in the game.

The return leg in Norway was incredibly dramatic. Mayckel Lahdo, Sven Mijnans, and Ruben van Bommel all scored to put AZ 3-1 up on the night. Yet, Brann responded with two goals before the end of regulation time to force extra time. Despite going down a man just before the end of extra time, Brann did enough to force penalties. In the end, Frederik Bøersting failed to convert his penalty in the sixth round, as AZ won 6-5 in the shootout after a 4-4 aggregate score. The Alkmaarders are now I nthe Conference League group stage for the third season running, one of three clubs who can claim that feat.

Red card undoes Twente, well beaten by Fenerbahçe

In what was always going to be a challenging playoff round tie, Twente lost 6-1 to Fenerbahçe across the two matches. For the second year running, Twente loses in this round of the competition.

Things started off well for the Enschede-based side in the first leg. Manfred Ugalde put them in front after 20 minutes. However, things went downhill from there. Fener equalized less than 15 minutes later, with the tie taking a turn for the worst for Twente just before halftime. Youri Regeer saw red for a tackle, reducing Twente to 10 men. In the second half, Fenerbahçe ran rampant, scoring four unanswered goals to win 5-1 at home.

The second leg was a mere formality, as the Turkish giants were in a comfortable position. An Edin Džeko penalty in the 72nd minute was the only goal of the game as Fenerbahçe won the second leg by a 1-0 scoreline. A 6-1 aggregate defeat sees Twente fall at the final hurdle once more against quality opposition.

Netherlands lead on France increases after playoff round

Overall, Netherlands earned 1.500 points from the last two weeks in Europe. The first leg of the playoff round earned them 0.400 points from a 1-2-1 record. Across the second legs, a 1-1-2 record was enough for 0.300 points. Since PSV made the Champions League group stage, an extra 0.800 bonus points were awarded. That takes the Dutch seasonal coefficient to 3.800 points. Only Turkey (6.250 points), Belgium, and Denmark (both 4.000) have more at this stage.

The Dutch five-year coefficient has now increased to 55.100. This is very good news for Netherlands, as they are now 2.769 points ahead of France going into the group stage.

Lille was the only French side to play in the playoff rounds in Europe, winning 3-2 on aggregate against Croatian club Rijeka in their tie, which needed extra time in the second leg. A win and a draw brought in a paltry 0.250 points for France. With that said, they still have all of their remaining teams in Europe, which could work to their advantage in this race for fifth spot. Since Netherlands lost Twente in the playoff round, that could be the difference maker here.

David Parkes

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