RSC Anderlecht are hoping to mark their 300th match in UEFA club competition in style when they travel to face FC Girondins de Bordeaux holding a 2-1 lead after last week's UEFA Cup Round of 32 opener.
The Brussels outfit made their European debut on 17 September 1955 in the first edition of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, but it proved disappointing as they succumbed 6-3 away against Hungary's Budapesti Vörös Lobogó – now MTK Budapest – before going down 4-1 at home. Undaunted, they were soon back for more and meet Bordeaux having contested 160 matches in the European Champion Clubs' Cup, 44 in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, 91 in the UEFA Cup and four in the UEFA Super Cup.
The 29-time Belgian champions have certainly experienced their share of highs in that time. Between 1976 and 1978, they appeared in three consecutive UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals and triumphed on the first and third occasions, beating West Ham United FC 4-2 and FK Austria Wien 4-0 respectively. Former greats Franky Vercauteren, Rob Rensenbrink, Arie Haan, Hugo Broos and Franky Van Der Elst lit up those years, and Vercauteren was still playing when Anderlecht reached the UEFA Cup final in 1983 and 1984. Coached by Belgian Player of the Century Paul Van Himst, they won the first of those finals against SL Benfica, over two legs.
Les Mauves are due for more celebrations later this year when they celebrate their centenary on 29 May, and coach Ariël Jacobs would love to mark the event with a successful European campaign with his team holding a 2-1 lead over Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux after last week's first leg. "We have a one-goal advantage at the halfway stage," said the man who replaced Vercauteren at the helm three months ago. "We're in a better position than before the home leg, when it seemed hopeless. But we shouldn't live in the past. Bordeaux represent one of Europe's strongest leagues and are just a point behind [Olympique Lyonnais], a club admired by everyone [at the top of Ligue 1]. It'll be extremely difficult."
Hassan and Gillet back
The task is complicated by injuries, with Nicolas Frutos (calf), Jonathan Legear (thigh) and Olivier Deschact (knee and ankle) still absent and Serhat Akın suffering with flu. Likewise, January signings Stanislav Vlček and Luigi Pieroni are ineligible while Bart Goor is suspended, but Guillaume Gillet returns from his own ban and Ahmed Hassan is back after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt.
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