Portugal vs The Netherlands: The Coefficient Battle

The 2022/23 season is here and with it comes another season of European competition. UEFA’s Champions, Europa and Conference League qualifiers are well underway, and the stakes are high.

Last season (2021/22), the Netherlands had an outstanding year, gaining a whopping 19.200 points. Incredibly, only England gained more coefficient points. Feyenoord reached the UEFA Europa Conference League final and PSV reached the quarter-final of the same competition. In the UEFA Champions League, Ajax topped their group with an incredible 6 wins from 6, including a 5-1 demolition in Lisbon of Sporting CP. The Dutch champions reached the Round of 16, before being eliminated by SL Benfica, a great result for Portuguese football in regards to the coefficient. Portugal as a nation on the other hand picked up just 12.916 points, despite the fact both Sporting and Porto successfully navigated the UEFA Champions League group stages.

Portugal’s failings in the UEFA Europa Conference League last season go a long way to explaining how Portugal has fallen behind the Netherlands. The Conference League is a fantastic way to pick up coefficient points as from the group stage onwards, 2 points are awarded for a win, which is the same value given to a win in both the Champions and Europa League. So whilst Feyenoord and PSV both went far in the Conference League, Portugal’s two UEFA Europa Conference representatives, Santa Clara and Paços Ferreira, both failed to make the competition’s group stage.

We know what happened last season, now let’s turn our attention to this season.

Both Portugal and The Netherlands have five clubs remaining in European competition. Portugal did have six but Vitória SC have since been eliminated from the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Portugal:

  • FC Porto & Sporting CP – UEFA Champions League GS
  • SL Benfica – UEFA Champions League PO
  • SC Braga – UEFA Europa League GS
  • Gil Vicente – UEFA Europa Conference League PO

The Netherlands:

  • Ajax – UEFA Champions League GS
  • PSV – UEFA Champions League PO
  • Feyenoord – UEFA Europa league GS
  • FC Twente – UEFA Europa Conference League PO
  • AZ Alkmaar – UEFA Europa Conference League PO

The UEFA Europa Conference League is again looking like a tournament where The Netherlands could really excel. A win for AZ against Gil Vicente would not only see AZ qualify for the group stage, but also eliminate a Portuguese club in the process. If for whatever reason, last season’s UECL finalists Feyenoord finish third in their UEFA Europa League group, they will drop down into the Conference League and you would fancy them again to go far. FC Twente face a tough but manageable test against Serie A club Fiorentina.

In the UEFA Champions League, Portugal could have up to three teams in the competition’s group stage (should Benfica beat Dynamo Kyiv), but ultimately, having three teams in the competition means very little if they are not winning games and picking up points and as we all know, the Champions League is the hardest competition to do that.

In the UEFA Europa League, Portugal will be hoping that last season’s quarter-finalists SC Braga can have another good run in the competition and perhaps go even further this year.

Our attention now turns to the two Portuguese teams who are involved in playoff matches. SL Benfica take on Dynamo Kyiv in the UCL. Roger Schmidt’s men look ruthless this season and will fancy their chances at making the UCL group stage. The other match is one also of great importance, Gil Vicente v AZ, Portugal vs The Netherlands!

If Portugal can enter the group stages of the three respective UEFA competitions with a total of five clubs, they will give themselves a massive chance of picking up some much-needed points.

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