European Away Days: St. Pats vs F91 Dudelange

St. Patrick’s Athletic will make the trip to Luxembourg to face F91 Dudelange in the first qualifying round of the 2023/24 Europa Conference League.

The Saints will travel to the Stade Jos Nosbaum in the southern town of Dudelange, situated extremely close to the French border.

F91 Dudelange

This is where life began for F91 Dudelange in 1991 when Alliance Dudelange, Stade Dudelange, and US Dudelange merged.

The new entity quickly found its way into their domestic top division, earning promotion to the National Division in 1992, and has remained a consistent presence ever since.

F91 won their first league title after the 1999-00 season, bringing an end to Jeunesse Esch’s domestic dominance. Funnily enough, Jeunesse Esch is no stranger to St. Pats, after facing them in a losing effort during the first round of qualification in the 2016/17 Europa League campaign.

Since their first title triumph, F91 Dudelange has won the National Division a further 15 times, with the most recent coming following the 2021/22 season.

They qualified for the Europa Conference League by finishing third in the National Division last season behind league winners Hesperange, and Niedercorn.

European History

F91 Dudelange has quite an impressive pedigree in European competitions.

They made their debut in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, losing out to Maccabi Haifa 7-1 on aggregate.

Dudelange would continue to make appearances in early qualification rounds for the Champions League and UEFA Cup against the likes of Hajduk Split, Rapid Wien, and Randers FC.

Only in recent years have they reached the dizzying heights of European group-stage football.

After eliminating Legia Warsaw and CFR Cluj during qualification, Dudelange found themselves in the Europa League group stages for the 2018/19 campaign.

They were drawn into Group F with European giants AC Milan, Real Betis, and Olympiacos. While they finished bottom of an extremely difficult group, the Luxembourg natives managed to earn a point against Real Betis in a 0-0 draw.

F91 showed up in the Europa League group stage the following season.

Unfortunately for them, finishing rock bottom of Group A behind Sevilla, APOEL, and Qarabag.

Last season, they played four times across all three of UEFA’s major European competitions. They beat Albania’s Tirana in the first qualification round of the Champions League but lost to Armenia’s Pyunik in the subsequent round.

This meant Dudelange dropped down into the Europa League third qualifying round but lost out to Malmo FF 5-2 over two legs. A play-off tie against Lech Poznan beckoned for a place in the Europa Conference League, but again, lost out on aggregate.

St. Pats aren’t the first League of Ireland side to visit Dudelange in European action.

UCD advanced past them in the first qualifying round of the Europa League in 2015, and Bohemians dumped them out of the second round of qualification in the inaugural Europa Conference League.

Pats vs F91 Dudelange

Domestic football in Luxembourg is currently enjoying its off-season, but F91 Dudelange still has a wealth of threats in their squad that John Daly’s side must keep a keen eye on.

F91 Goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert and Aldin Skenderovic have over 100 caps for Luxembourg between them.

Samir Hadji (33) and Dejvid Sinani (30) may not be the youngest members of the squad, but they’re the most prolific, with both respectively scoring 20 and 18 league goals last season.

St. Pats will be reeling after their disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Cork City in their last outing, but come into this tie in fine-scoring fettle.

They’ll be looking for a positive result in Dudelange on Wednesday. Especially with a return leg to a packed-out Richmond Park on Thursday, 20th of July on the horizon.

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