FC Differdange 03 face a do-or-die meeting against Division Nationale pacesetters F91 Dudelange on Sunday, where victory would close the gap at the summit to two points; defeat, according to coach Roland Schaack, will leave his side out of the title race.
With eight games of the season in Luxembourg to go, it is business as usual. Pursuing their fifth successive title and eighth in ten years, Dudelange lead the way and hold a healthy five-point advantage over their nearest rivals, rejuvenated Differdange. The south-western side mustered less than half the points the champions managed last term as they limped home in seventh but, with a host of homegrown youngsters complementing in-form French striker Pierre Piskor, they have been a different prospect this time around. "We are much better than many expected this season and we deserve to be second," said Schaack, whose side have taken maximum plunder from their last five games. "We want to defend second to qualify for Europe next season."
Schaack will not be at the club then, with the 35-year-old set to hand over the reins during the summer to Dan Theis, the man who guided the side back into the top flight in 2006 and has since been coaching Luxembourg's Under-19s. He could yet return to a side defending the league crown because while there is a sizeable deficit between them and Dudelange, victory in the sides' meeting this weekend could knock the champions off their stride. "It will be difficult to beat F91 since I really cannot find any weaknesses in their team," said Schaack. "But if we can play really well and pull off a surprise then the title race will be blown wide open: If we lose then we are pretty much out of the title race."
Differdange will have their work cut out. When they hosted Dudelange in October they were soundly beaten 4-1, Piskor scoring for the home side. The 24-year-old has gone on to register 25 times already in what is his third campaign since arriving from FC Rodange 91, and is the league's leading scorer. He will harbour much of Differdange's hopes on Sunday, though Luxembourg Under-21 pair Ante Bukvic and Michel Kettenmeyer, as well as senior internationals Kim Kitzinger and Joachim Aurélien, are all coming good at just the right time. A UEFA Europa League third qualifying round place beckons if Differdange finish second, or even drop to third – but securing a UEFA Champions League spot would be an even better way for Schaack to bow out.
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