Philippe Clement: “Victory for the entire group”

An immensely proud Philippe Clement saw his boys play a liberated game in the Champions League, resulting in a fine 1-2 win at the hands of Zenit.

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“The first half saw a well organised Club, dismantling the strong points of Zenit. What we lacked was that bit of confidence to create more danger. After the break, the game opened up. We scored, they drew level. At that point, we could have gone for defending that point, or to go for the win. We opted the latter, which paid off in spades. And it was not through a counter move. It was a brilliant collective action with a magnificent goal.”

Philippe Clement
Philippe Clement

Last season saw three draws for Club in the Champions League, but now Blauw-Zwart started with a win. “I haven't been T1 for a long time, but I can safely say that this has been the highlight of my training career so far. Even more so than the two league wins with Genk and Club. I fully realise the quality of the opposing team, so I can truly value this top performance. We all know the budgets of Zenit, Dortmund and Lazio. It's a different universe altogether. We have plenty of young players, but those with Zenit have so much more experience. this is just a fantastic experience, one boosting our confidence. This doesn't mean we should start thinking we're so much better. Five more finals await, but the three historic points we claim here are in our bags. Despite the corona hassles, we didn't let it get in our heads. E.g. Ricca and Horvath played a tremendous game. This is a victory for the entire group.”

 

Having only made his debut against PSG last season, Charles De Ketelaere played as if he has been part of it all for years. To boot, he scored the winner in the final minute. “We're not the kind of team capable of attracting 40 million euro players, like Zenit can do. We try to form players ourselves, as we just cannot afford the really mature and seasoned players. We had already performed well in last season's Champions League, but lacked efficiency. We have taken some steps in the meantime. After the international break, Charles wasn't part of the selection for Standard. He could just as well have been disappointed about that, but he kept on working, and was ready to shine today. He's not yet ready to show his skills every single week, but he just needs to keep working and gain experience. Furthermore, quality alone doesn't suffice anymore for young players, they need the brains to come with it too. And that's the case with Charles. Line up only players of eighteen of nineteen, and you lose. But in etablishing a great balance with the more veteran players, you can win games like these today. It also helps us in shifting tactics. Even if we change systems, the players can remain in their comfort zones, as they know what's asked of them.” (SF)

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