The State of Luxembourgish Football

May 29, 2019

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Founded: 1910

Most Championships: Jeunesse Esch, 28

Last 5 Winners: Dudelange (18/19, 17/18, 16/17, 15/16), Fola Esch (14/15)

UEFA Ranking: 43rd

Highest Ranked Club: Dudelange, 169th

Interview with Luxembourgish sports journalist, Gast Faber

Luxembourg were once considered minnows of the European game, but over the last few years they’ve really started to compete on the European stage. What’s the reason for the upturn in success?

Indeed the Luxembourgish national team has made a huge effort over the last few years and improved their style of play. After 2010, the federation decided to build up a professional staff around the Red Lions, which among others concentrate on the scouting of young players. This is essential in a small country like Luxembourg, where you may not miss one single talent.

They also focus on their personal advancement, which takes place in a national football school far from the player‘s clubs, which are not all able to supply the necessary structures. Also the coach Luc Holtz, who just extended his contract, plays a great part in the development of the team. He taught them to play offensive football with courage without forgetting the defense, which led to ten points in the Nations League and some highlights, like the nil-nil in France in September 2017 against a team which was crowned World Champion only ten months later.

Did anyone in Luxembourg ever believe that one of their teams could reach the group stage of a European competition?

It was a huge surprise for everybody in Luxembourg that Dudelange (or like we say “Diddeleng”) reached the group stage of the Europa League last summer. Of course they are investing more money than all the other clubs in Luxembourg and try to build up some kind of professional structures in an amateur league. Though you never know if they can compete in Europe against teams with much more experience on that level.

You should not forget that they first failed in the first qualifying round for the Champions League (against MOL Vidi from Hungary). So they slid in the Europa League qualifiers, where they surprisingly eliminated the Polish (Legia) and Romanian (Cluj) champions.

What’s expected of the Luxembourg teams usually before the start of the European campaign and is more expected of them now?

Expectations are growing as soon as you succeed and make experiences like Dudelange made last season. Nevertheless, the expectations lay more on the national team, which provides lots of young talented players with the potential to make a pro career abroad like Leandro Barreiro who debuted in the Bundesliga for Mainz in February, Dirk Carlson who will play in Karlsruhe next season, the Thill brothers and so on.

The Luxembourgish clubs, however, still have to deal with a non-professional league which makes it difficult to build a sustainable footing of competitive football.

Do most of the country get behind the Luxembourg sides when they play in European competition?

Of course you support the clubs from your country when they reach a group stage and suddenly play Milan, Sevilla and Olympiakos. Dudelange really created some kind of hype around the otherwise rather unattractive competition. On the other hand, we have to admit that because our lack of stars, football or even sports in general, isn’t the most popular topic in our society, but they occassionally reach the collective conscience. For example, when Dudelange play in the Europa League, Gilles Müller beats Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon or the Schleck brothers succeed in the Tour de France.

How do you think Europa League 2 will affect Luxembourg sides and has there been much of a reaction in Luxembourg?

Since it is not clear yet how the Europa League 2 will be structured, the reactions are very restrained. However, the federation shows scepticism regarding the current competition in terms of attraction and compensation.

Nevertheless, it has to be clear that the Nations League, for example, is an extremely attractive way for federations like Luxembourg to eventually qualify for a big tournament like the EURO’s and also to play against teams on equal terms, which is the only way to improve gradually.

Do you think UEFA are doing enough to help the minnows of European football and what can they do to further help them?

With new competitions like the Nations League or a future Europa League 2, UEFA is trying to give those minnows the chance to play international football and participate at the big parties. But the extension of the international competitions eventually compromises the attraction of the game. This will not be a great help for the small countries either.

At the end of the day, each federation needs to find their own way and methods to compete. Maybe UEFA could support the smaller countries (not only Luxembourg) to gain professional structures such as youth development centres or training workshops for future coaches, for example, in order to push high quality football.

Interview with Luxembourgish sports journalist, Gast Faber

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Author: Tom Mortimer

Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer,, among many others.

Twitter @TMortimerFtbl

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