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Team 33 | What's the secret behind Luxembourg's rising football fortunes?


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When we tended to look at football results involving Luxembourg, more often than not they'd occupy the negative part of a thrashing.

The tiny nation, which punches well above its weight in nearly every other domain outside sport, has a long football history but has barely made an impact in the century since their first international match against France in 1911 when they lost 4-1 to France.

But against the same opposition last year, Luxembourg showed the first flickers that their fortunes are on the up.

As we know, the French went on to lift the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But 315 days earlier, they suffered a blip when Luxembourg held Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and co to a 0-0 draw on French soil in Toulouse.

While France did dominate the game, it wouldn't be fair to call that a fluke and the Luxembourg side has built on that by shining in the UEFA Nations League.

Albeit they're in the bottom League D tier, two levels below Ireland's groupings but they thrashed Moldova 4-0 during September's international break (as a note, we only beat the Moldovans 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium in the 2018 qualifiers and 3-1 away) and followed that up by thrashing fellow minnows San Marino 3-0 away.

They're not the only impressive results with victories over Belarus (2018 World Cup qualifier), Hungary, Malta, Georgia and draws against Senegal and Bulgaria.

They still ship the occasional thrashing but that's a huge improvement and there are a few factors behind it as I found out when Luxembourg Wort sports journalist Bob Hemmen joined me on this week's Team 33 to discuss the good results, the football school that has produced much of the current squad and how they're maximising the most out of a small population and playing pool to give themselves an outside of reaching Euro 2020 via the Nations League League D route.

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player below or on iTunes after the chat with Marcus Maher on Espanyol: 

Killian Woods and Cian Roche also joined me to talk about the slightly absurd talk of UEFA adding a third club competition alongside the Champions League and Europa League: 

Apart from Gary Neville and Arsenal Fan TV founder Robbie Lyle, recent interviews on Team 33 include former Man United cult hero Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-England international Carlton Palmer, former Newcastle and Everton left back Alessandro Pistone, Chelsea legends Bobby Tambling and Paddy Mulligan, Dutch legend Johan Neeskens, ex-England striker Darius Vassell, Liverpool legend David Fairclough, former Ireland midfielder Mark Kinsella, USA captain Eric Lichaj and former Everton forward Tomasz Radzinski. Plus our in-depth chats with Tony CotonPackie BonnerNobby SolanoRon Atkinson and Alan Curbishley are still available on iTunes. You can find them all in one place by subscribing to Team 33 on iTunes.


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