Tuesday 8 December 2020 22:15

Philippe Clement: “An inch divides us from a heroic performance”

A whisker, that's about all that divided Club Brugge from the Champions League's Round of 16. Philippe Clement regretted the missed chance, but what reigned was pride as his team went through a tremendous CL campaign.

“I have mixed feelings about today's game. On the one hand there's disappointment as we came so, so close, and because we made errors that shouldn't have happened. But on the other hand I'm mostly proud of the way my players have fought and kept putting pressure down to ten. Only one inch divides us from a truly historic performance. That is why pride is what I felt most today.”

Philippe Clement
Philippe Clement

Key moment in the game was Eduard Sobol's sending off. The left back was about to be taken off, but the substitution took too long. “Apparently there was a problem with the ref to get that sub quicker. And that proved vital for us. Obviously you don't want to make that kind of substitution, but it really was the moment. Unfortunately, it went too slow. We then decided to take Noa off, as we were forced to play with four in the back. Charles is stronger to keep the balls up front, physically too, and we would have risked losing the balance in our team. Noa had no trouble coming to terms with that sub.”

 

In an extremely enticing end of the game, Club saw the crossbar bar its way to CL qualification. “The only thing that's still lacking, is experience at this level. It would help us in seizing the moments a bit more. But if you see where we come from, you can see that the group is making that evolution. Charles De Ketelaere made his debut just one year ago, and e.g. Diatta and Kossounou also underwent a tremendous evolution. But the older players surrounding them also put in a great campaign. We are taking steps forward. Rome wasn't built on one day. It's the first time we gathered so many points in the group stages. You can see the evolution. Not only the points speak for themselves, but also the performances. When my players keep showing this mentality, Club Brugge will only get stronger and stronger.”

 

Club will now continue its European adventure in the Europa League. “It could have even been better, playing among the best 16 in Europe. It will be looming in our heads a couple of days. But we shouldn't think less of the Europa League. It took us to Manchester United last season, so it's not as if there are no big names there. We have lots of ambition, and we know who we are. If you see what my team can do against teams with budgets far outdoing ours, it's something to be very proud of.” (SF)

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