Once the dominant force in Luxembourg football, 27-time champions AS Jeunesse Esch have been rather overshadowed of late but this season have returned to the Division Nationale summit.
Back on top
Jeunesse last took the title in 2003/04, since when F91 Dudelange have won five in a row, but nine games into this campaign, the Esch-sur-Alzette outfit are three points clear of Dudelange, CS Grevenmacher and CS Pétange at the top. The champions are perhaps missing Michel Leflochmoan, who coached Jeunesse to their last league success and then masterminded F91's dominance, but he left for Belgian third-tier outfit R. Excelsior Virton this summer.
Jacques Müller, who has been at the Jeunesse helm since 2007, said: "Our early results have been positive, no doubt." However, the 46-year-old warned: "We still lose too many unnecessary balls in midfield. However, since we have only conceded three goals so far and have not lost a single league game, our players have shown that they are full of confidence and commitment."
His side took welcomed Dudelange on 27 September for the match of the season so far and led through Sergio Pupovac before being pegged back at the death for a 1-1 draw, meaning Esch have not beaten the champions in the league for six years. Frustrated Jeunesse captain René Peters said: "We had got through the most difficult phases of the match and then in the 81st minute we had to deal with the dismissal of Claudio Lombardelli. With only ten men, it was difficult to hold on to the lead against such a technically strong team with so many talented players. Conceding the equaliser in the 89th minute was almost the logical conclusion."
None the less, Esch remain in pole position and having ended up in a disappointing fourth place last season, things look a whole lot better right now. Qualifying for Europe is the minimum goal the club have set themselves this season and with a deeper squad than in 2008/09 their fans' enthusiasm has been reignited.
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