Perfect week for Portuguese clubs sees Portugal close the gap on Russia in UEFA Coefficient
Portuguese clubs collectively pulled off an excellent week in European competition, where all three representatives - Porto, Benfica and Sporting - managed to secure victories.
While seeing Portuguese clubs secure wins on the European stage is always a wonderful sight, three victories out of three while Russian clubs falter is even better as Portugal continue to close the gap on the Russian’s in the UEFA Coefficient.
Why is that important? Well, if Portugal overtake Russia in the rankings by the end of the year, it means that for the 2020-21 season, Portugal will have an additional team automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage (two teams instead of one) while a third would enter at the qualifying stage. Portugal could therefore, potentially, have three representatives in the Champions League yet again.
The first win of the week came from Porto, who overcame a resilient and determined Galatasaray side to win 3-2 in an enthralling encounter on Tuesday, where a total of three penalties were awarded. It saw Porto maintain their extensive lead at the top of their group, sitting five points ahead of Schalke in 2nd and 9 points above Galatasaray in 3rd, and meant that they will be one of the seeded teams in the Champions League first knockout round draw next Monday.
Benfica then took on AEK Athens on Wednesday where they failed to impress as they limped to a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win. Dominating the game in terms of possession for large spells, they created few chances of note, up until the 88th minute, where Grimaldo curled in a terrific free-kick, beating keeper and wall to find the back of the net. Seferovic then nearly made it 2-0 just a minute later, hitting the bar and post as the ball bounced away from goal.
And to round off the week for Portugal, Sporting battled it out with Vorskla of Ukraine in the Europa League, where Sporting pulled off a convincing 3-0 victory to continue a stunning start for Marcel Keizer.
Russia, on the other hand, had a total of five representatives across both European competitions, and there was combined failure for their representatives, starting with Lokomotiv Moscow who were in the same group as Porto. There was doubly good news for Portuguese football with regards to Lokomotiv, who not only lost thanks to a very late Schalke winner, but also crashed out of Europe entirely, finishing bottom of the group, not even doing enough to qualify for the Europa League.
On the other hand, the CSKA Moscow result the very next day was not ideal for Portuguese football, with the Russian outfit securing a shock 3-0 win over Real Madrid in Spain to ultimately secure a few more points for Russia in the UEFA coefficient ranking. However, by virtue of Plzen also securing a surprise victory of their own, overcoming Roma 2-1, CSKA Moscow still finished bottom of their group, falling out of European competition entirely and as such no longer able to add any more points to Russia’s total.
With regards to Russian sides in the Europa League, Zenit, Krasnodar and Spartak Moscow were all in action - and my word, what an excellent day it proved in Portugal’s efforts to catch Russia in the UEFA coefficient.
In the earlier kick-offs, both Spartak Moscow and Krasnodar suffered convincing defeats, with Spartak’s 2-0 loss at the hands of Villarreal knocking them out of the Europa League altogether. That meant that Russia went from having 5 representatives in the group stage of European competition, to just 2 representatives in the knockout rounds and beyond - Krasnodar and Zenit. Portugal, meanwhile, started with 3 representatives, and all three still remain in Europe.
And even Krasnodar were teetering on the edge of dropping out of the Europa League; to secure safe passage, all they had to do was ensure that they did not lose by 4 or more goals; and yet, after 48 minutes, they found themselves 3-0 down and reduced to 10 men. Fortunately for them, they held firm and kept the score sufficiently low, but that signalled yet another defeat for a Russian team.
And there was further joy for Portuguese football as Zenit St Petersburg, who had already secured 1st place in their Europa League group, fell to a 2-0 loss to Sparta Prague.
It meant that Russian teams secured a combined 1 victory and 4 losses this week, while Portuguese sides managed to earn 3 victories between them.
How does that affect the UEFA Coefficient?
Before the week of European action, Portugal sat on 7.300 points from this season alone, and 44.633 was their total coefficient based on the previous five seasons combined.
Meanwhile, Russia had just 6.417 point for this campaign, Portugal closing the gap on Russia by 0.883 this season, but still 4.750 points behind based on the overall coefficient ranking.
Portugal also began pulling ahead of all the nations below them due to their exceptional showing in Europe already.
But, if you now compare that to what the coefficient ranking looks like now, you will see that there is a significant improvement:
Portugal have gained a huge 1.200 points since the end of gameweek 5 - the maximum number of points that Portugal were able to obtain - while Russia only gained a measly 0.333 points, a significant difference which has seen Portugal move to just 3.884 points behind Russia.
Additionally, while Russia had 5 representatives in Europe at the start of the group stage, they now only have 2 remaining (Krasnodar and Zenit). Portugal, meanwhile, had 3 sides representing the country in European competition in the group stage, and all three still remain.