Luxembourg's dominant force F91 Dudelange have their sights on a UEFA Champions League run after clinching their ninth national title in 12 seasons with five games to spare.
Although Dudelange fell to a 1-0 defeat at AS Jeunesse Esch on Saturday, the following day the only two teams still able to catch them lost: second-placed UN Käerjéng 97 going down 2-1 at FC Progrès Niedercorn and FC Differdange 03 beaten 2-0 by FC RM Hamm Benfica.
With a 16-point lead over Käerjéng, Dudelange – founded by a merger in 1991 – therefore reclaimed the championship they had lost after a five-year hold to Jeunesse Esch last season; in the last 13 campaigns they have never finished outside the top two.
"It is outstanding to win this title after just 21 matches," said Dudelange coach Marc Grosjean, whose side have averaged more than three goals a game. "We all know the most important thing is the title and we will celebrate it properly with the fans. I am delighted to see how this team has developed. A lot of neutrals say they have not seen this brand of football here before, but we can get even better."
Dudelange, who are also in the Luxembourg Cup's last 16, will enter the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round next season, having progressed through only one two-legged European tie in 14 campaigns. This term they won their UEFA Europa League first qualifying round home leg 2-1 against Denmark's Randers FC before suffering a 6-1 away loss. Grosjean is confident his team will not disappoint this time.
"We should have a good preparation period and 90% of the squad will be the same as last year," he said. "We have all the necessary weapons to get through the preliminary rounds and our chances have become even greater."
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