French clubs falter in Europe on a night of potentially grave consequences

AS Monaco, Stade Rennais and FC Nantes were all knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday, leaving no French side left in the competition. OGC Nice, who remain in the Europa Conference League and Paris Saint-Germain are the only French sides left in European competition. 

Monaco headed into the return leg of their tie against Bayer Leverkusen with a slender advantage after a late Axel Disasi goal at the BayArena last week. However, their advantage was quickly squandered and Les Monégasques were ultimately eliminated on penalties. 

A similar fate befell Rennes, who had looked set to qualify against Shakhtar Donetsk, but for a Jeanuël Belocian own-goal late in extra-time. Like Monaco, Rennes went on to lose the penalty shoot-out against their Ukrainian opponents. 

Nantes faced a more daunting task against Juventus, but having come back from Italy with the scores level, an Angel Di María masterclass quickly ended Les Canaris’ dreams of a historic victory. 

The three defeats on Thursday night threaten the attribution of the Champions League spot. Should France remain fifth in UEFA’s coefficient ranking, four Ligue 1 teams will qualify for the Champions League in 2024. Currently, the top two are guaranteed a place in the group stages, whilst the third-placed team must go through the playoffs. France’s dismal display threatens its position in that ranking with the Netherlands and Portugal just behind. 

According to the latest UEFA ranking update, displayed by Swiss Football Data, Frane are still fifth with 60,331 points, the Netherlands (57,300 points) are sixth and Portugal (54,716) are seventh. 

France’s position can now only be consolidated by Nice, who discover their Europa Conference League opponent on Friday, and PSG, who head into the second leg of their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich a goal down. On a more positive note for French football, Ajax were also knocked out of the Europa League by Union Berlin, as were PSV Eindhoven, who were defeated by Sevilla. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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