Although many of the trends continued from the previous week(s), there were still plenty of goals, drama, tension and some captivating individual performances on show across eight games. Let’s elaborate on what happened exactly!
Alternative scheduling the key to increase viewership?
This week’s fixture list saw a welcome change from the usual approach taken by the BGL Ligue, as three different days saw action instead of the usual Sunday-only distribution of the games. A groundhopper/neutral fan could theoretically have gone to Mersch to watch Marisca play Käerjéng on Friday, to then travel to any of the four games played on Saturday, while still being presented with a choice between three different match-ups on Sunday.
Although we have no official information about whether anyone completed the “hat-trick” of three consecutive days watching Luxembourgish football, it can be imagined the clubs’ gate receipts might have been boosted by the change.
Online viewership via RTL’s Livearena Hub coverage is sure to have increased, as well. Footage of the games being available for the whole season’s duration make it simple for anyone to keep track of several teams in parallel-running games, but the difference between live football and post-match replays is obvious for all fans of the game.
This matchday will be followed by a mid-week fixture, making it impossible to shift starting dates around in an already congested schedule, but I believe I can speak for the entire Luxembourgish football-following community when I say such opportunities to watch more teams will always be cherished by the public.
Reckless behaviour not unnoticed by the officials
An unprecedented eight red cards were handed out by the referee over the eight games, surpassing the season-high seven from late August. The numbers thus imply there was, on average, one suspended player in each game. Of course, the picture is slightly distorted, as half of the punishments centred around one match in particular: Union Titus Pétange’s victory over a (perhaps overly) combative Fola side.
The problems started when Hénoc Isamene, already on a yellow, planted a two-foot tackle into Union attacker Kai Merk’s legs. Luckily, the Kyrgyz international attacker was fine after receiving some medical care, but keeping Isamene on the pitch was not an option for referee Frank Bourgnon, who reached for the red.
The next event of note was a brutal kick in the head. After a Fola throw-in, Rui Costa de Sousa was trying to control the ball after a first touch that let him down, when Wilson Kamavuaka challenged him to the ball with a header. Unfortunately, Rui’s reaction time was slow enough to carry out the kicking movement he made, resulting in a grim kneeing in the face after Kamavuaka successfully cleared the ball away. Once again the “victim” was able to play on, and of course there were no foul intentions involved (De Sousa was also visibly troubled by his action and had few complaints about being dismissed), but it looked like a frightening knockout attempt at first.
Fast forward to the hour mark, and this time the “perpetrator” was an Union player, Sascha Heil, who mistimed his tackle on Fola attacker Ilyas Jeridi, and proceeded to step over the opponent as he made his way back into position. That was when he was hit by a ball in the back, and upon turning around, he saw an frustrated Jeridi come at him. The referee could do little to stop a heated encounter between the two players break out, and they were both rewarded by red cards once the situation calmed down somewhat.
As is the case at such wreck-fests, the fouls and dirty moves overshadowed all positive and productive parts of the match for most of it. The best evidence for the above is the fact all three goals were in the last half hour, once the red card-rampage has dissipated.
Luxembourg youth international defender Edin Osmanović scored his first goal since returning to his homeland from German St. Pauli’s academy earlier this month, but sadly, his big day was spoiled by the visitors’ indiscipline. Union went on to get the three points for only the second time this year, while Stefano Bensi’s Fola cannot leave the relegation zone.
One unbeaten, one winless
While FC Differdange had a nervy 90 minutes to extend their unbeaten streak alive for the seventh game, they did succeed in the end. Meanwhile, UN Käerjéng are rooted to the bottom of the table, sitting on a solitary point after their recent loss to newly-promoted Marisca Mersch.
Both games involved players that were in the focus of our wrap-up from last week, and neither failed to deliver. Differdange’s Kenny Nagera continues his prolific start to life in the Grand Duchy, showing technical excellence to finish a chance off from his less-preferred right side of the pitch. His right-footed shot across the goal went untroubled into the bottom far corner, as F91 Dudelange goalkeeper Enzo Esposito watched on conceding the equaliser. F91 did look promising several times throughout the game, and 18-year old academy graduate Iván Englaro’s third assist of the season is reason for joy and happiness around the club.
Differdange turned the game around after conceding early on, courtesy of Nagera’s finish and striker Jorginho’s calm penalty later in the first half. Samir Hadji scored Dudelange’s second goal to pull level again, and although FCD looked closer to deliver a sucker-punch in the end, but they have to accept merely keeping the leaders’ spot on the table, now collecting three draws besides their four games.
Earlier, on Friday, the man of the moment was Mr Marisca, Benjamin Bresch. This time, he came to the rescue after his team were trailing to rock-bottom UNK at home even as we approached the second half. Enter Bresch. We are in the 73rd minute, when Joel Rodrigues da Cruz’s effort is saved by Käerjéng goalkeeper Noah Scheidweiler, who does well to scramble the ball away from the winger’s path, who seemed poised to score the rebound. Unluckily that didn’t proved enough eventually, as the ball fell Bresch’s way, who headed it in the net above the goalkeeper without any hesitation.
Two minutes away from the end, it looked like another valuable point was on the board for Marisca – little did most of the team know they were about to triple that. After some slick, eye-catching build-up play with line-breaking passes from defence and midfield, the ball was quickly provided for Bresch, who ran (and outran) at everyone in his proximity, dribbling calmly past the defenders, before deciding to round the goalkeeper, and pass the ball in the empty net.
Bresch’s efforts are calling out for some recognition, and while he has already got it from the bigger clubs during the summer transfer window, speculation over his place in the senior national team squad to fill a glaring hole in the roster remains in the air. At least as long as Bresch keeps his otherworldly scoring rates up for his very own underdog team.
Around the country
9-men Strassen lost to Progrès Niedercorn away from home. Progrès’ young striker, Kenny Mixtur (19) scored on his first league start since signing from Le Havre in the summer. The Wasps are looking like a well-oiled machine as usual, and could be challenging for the title if their good form solidifies and gains more consistency over the coming weeks.
Victoria Rosport win again, as has been a frequent occurrence since current manager Martin Forkel took over last season. Their attacking line, led by 6-goal André Redekop from Germany, is producing some refreshingly inventive moves, playing with the freedom only elite clubs’ attackers do. This time, they defeated Wiltz 71, who continue to sit close to the relegation places.
Mondercange and Jeunesse Esch have to thank the long stoppage times for their one point each, as both teams earned themselves a draw with stop-gap equalisers against Schifflange and Mondorf respectively. Newly-promoted Schifflange now find themselves on the same points tally as Marisca Mersch, despite heavily contrasting approaches in the transfer market and different early-season fortunes.
Swift Hesperange got the better of a young Racing Union side, as they eked out a 2-1 win through goals after an own goal and a dead-ball situation. Racing can count themselves unlucky to be staying in 14th position after yet another loss, but this was by no means a disappointing display against the reigning champions. Although the lack of experience in some areas of the pitch might backfire later, it looks like they can get their season going soon if they continue producing performances like Saturday’s.
As always, the games’ live commentaries, highlights and full video footage are all available on RTL.lu’s Live Arena hub.