After being eliminated from the race for the Champions League, without glory and without success, by PSV Eindhoven at the beginning of August, here they are struggling to hold on to their second place, which is synonymous with qualification for the Europa League play-offs. Claiming first place in the group has been impossible since Budapest’s disappointing draw against Ferencvaros (1-1) on Thursday.
Axel Disasi and his teammates can only dream of the barrage of C3 against a club donated from the … Champions League. For that, you have to win Thursday at Stade Louis-II, or draw and pray for a misstep by Trabzonspor (3rd) against Ferencvaros.
Already victorious at Red Star Belgrade, reigning Serbian champions, in their nest of Marakana in the first leg (1-0), Monaco wants to “put the same ingredients against a team with many amounts of commitment”, slips Disasi . It will also be necessary to know how to manage the meeting with intelligence and attack wisely, because the Serbs have an obligation to win to secure the future in C3.
In this context, Sunday’s controlled victory against Angers (2-0) in the league, with Clement rotating his squad, offers some positive signs after four games without a win (Trabzonspor 0-4 , Clermont 1-1, Lille 3-4 , Ferencvaros 1-1).
Also taking part in the Europa League, Rennes (2e with 11 points) are guaranteed to advance to the next round, but can still overtake Fenerbahçe (1eh, also 11 points) and therefore avoid the 16th, synonymous with the play-offs, against a team drafted from the Champions League. The Bretons welcome the Cypriots from AEK Larnaca this Thursday (9:00 pm), aiming to get as many wins as possible to overtake the Turkish formation.
Nice is leading, but there is no certainty
Finally, in the Europa League Conference (C4), Nice must avoid defeat in Cologne to advance to the next round. “Everything depends on a match, you have to accept it”: Lucien Favre knows that the start of Nice’s current recovery will be judged on its ability to qualify this Thursday (9:00 pm) for the final stage of the Europa League Conference .
At the top of Group D of the Europa League Conference, tied on points with Partizan Belgrade (8) and just one point ahead of Cologne, their opponent of the night, Nice has its fate in its hands: a draw. Les Aiglons to continue their journey in Europe.
But the Germans, supported by more than 50,000, will give it their all, as they will qualify if they win. After the draw in the first leg (1-1), “there was no inferiority complex to be had”. In September, Nice also finished better than its opponent.
After the incomprehensible defeat at home against the Czechs by Slovacko (2-1) due to total disintegration at the end of the match, without which Nice would have qualified, Favre slowly put back the pieces of a destabilized team. A not-so-glorious draw with Auxerre (1-1) and another very lucky match with Nantes (1-1) followed, before things gradually settled down.
Although far from what Favre promoted, Nice showed a lot of character after matching Partizan Belgrade to win last week (2-1). In Lorient (2-1), Sunday, the team also expressed itself, after being very rough up at half time. Like Mario Lemina, Dante and even Kasper Schmeichel, great in Brittany, the Red and Black captains are solid again.
Currently, at the very beginning of the positive dynamic, the Aiglons can only continue it if they have “courage, personality and character” in Cologne where there will be “more pressure and intensity”, according to Dante. The Nice captain warned his men that “he has to give everything for this final”.
Victory would allow direct qualification to the round of 16, the collective goal. But a draw would also ensure Nice one of the first two places in the group, and therefore, at least, a qualification to the competition’s play-offs, against a team drafted from the Europa League.
Even a loss won’t be a full eliminator. But to allow the Eagles to continue their journey, it must be combined with an unlikely victory for Slovacko in Belgrade. Neither Favre nor his stalwarts considered this scenario…