Let's take a few seconds to start with a riddle that will not give you a smile. What do Videoton, Qabala, Astra Giurgu, Esbjerg, Apollo Limassol, Metalist Kharkov and FC Gyori have in common? All have eliminated, in the play-offs or from the turn of the 32, a French club of Europa League. It is an evil that does not date back to today. The representatives of the L1 have never shone on the small European scenario and the Thursday hexes have often turned into traps. There is no big surprise for Marseille, Bordeaux and Rennes late compared to this year. Because basically, it's always the same story.
The suffering of OM players in the Europa League finalGetty Images
It is surprising to see Bordeaux lose in Copenhagen or Slavia Prague, confusing to see that Rennes is not able to bring a point back from Astana or disturbing to see the points of division of Marseille in the field of Apollon Limassol. Curiously, and more worryingly, Bordeaux, Marseille and Rennes have a very low turnover in the Europa League this season.
Three times over 8 in 33 attempts
But the story is just repeated and, halfway, no tricolor club is able to cross the group stage this season. If OL had reached the semifinals of the competition in 2017, if OM had lost in the final of last year, they would have been only exceptions. And this edition 2018/2019 puts French football well in its place. As bad as it is. Of the 33 attempts by the representatives of the L1 since the birth of the Europa League in 2009, only three have led beyond the eighth final. A real misery.
To better understand the apathy in which Ligue 1 is immersed in the Europa League, Francis Gillot is a precious help. The former coach of Bordeaux and Lens has played four campaigns and has never been tender with the competition. It is quite easy to reveal the almost ancestral difficulties of French clubs:
- A question of time
"There are countries where the calendar is organized. When we returned at five in the morning from a trip to the other head of Europe and we had to play at 2pm on a Sunday, believe me, it was a real nuisance. In Portugal, for example, clubs that play in the Europa League play more often on Mondays. One day of rest and more, everything changes."
- An alloy 1 too homogeneous
"Some clubs, both Cypriot and Icelandic, join their team on Thursday because the gap is so great that, over the weekends, their substitutes do the work in silence. In L1, there is little difference between 5 and 15. The league is very homogeneous and does not serve our clubs in the Europa League. And I actually shot in the Europa League like in 2013/2014 when we were seriously embarked in Ligue 1."
- Too personal unbalanced
"I have often been criticized for not playing in the Europa League, but I have had a group of 20 professional players who normally have to have the level but I understand that not everyone has it. The Portuguese clubs have much deeper numbers. In Bordeaux, I did not have 20 players of the same value and it cost us points."
Any questionable subject, for example, does Slavia Prague have a larger team than the Girondins this season? Four years after Francis Gillot's latest participation in the Europa League, the relationship remains the same despite everything. France is probably too beautiful. This year is likely to return to its old habits and leave the European spring to its neighbors.
Europa League Bordeaux GillotAFP