Anderlecht achieves a good starting position, Moussa N’Diaye full of confidence: “Our chance to push through? 100 percent”

No Sardella in the team, but N’Diaye. That was no unnecessary luxury against the fast Samuel Chukwueze: N’Diaye himself is not slow either. The Senegalese immediately started with a good interception on a dribble from his Nigerian opponent, and it didn’t stop there: he reads the game well and always anticipates. The fact that the Anderlecht fans sometimes have to hold their breath when he anticipates too impetuously, they are only too happy to accept in the Lotto Park.

“I think I played my best match for Anderlecht today. I played in Spain for a while (N’Diaye played two years at Barcelona B, ed.) and knew what to expect. I know Spanish football, and it was nice to play against a Spanish team again,” said N’Diaye.

“If today was the best match of my career, next week will be the most important, in Villarreal. I give us a 100 percent chance to push through, we are motivated and work hard.” A 100 percent chance of qualifying sounds rather optimistic, but the Purple & White can have confidence for the second leg. At no time were they outclassed by the visitors from Spain, and if one team should have won, it was the team from Brussels.

“We did what we had to do, even if it wasn’t easy. We have seen them at work a lot and after a good pep talk from the coach we fully believed in it after the break. Fan support has also given us a huge boost. That things are going better in Europe than in Belgium? In Belgium, the clubs know us, in Europe we might be able to play a little more on the surprise”, continues N’Diaye. “But from now on we are only focused on Sunday’s game against Cercle Brugge. I also want to finish as high as possible in the competition.”

Slimani wants to stay

The crowd went crazy after Dreyer’s equalizer, but when Islam Slimani came between the lines, the applause meter also went up. “I heard it”, laughed the Algerian, who clearly feels at home at Anderlecht. “It felt warm, especially because I was still criticized when I signed here. So you see once again that it is best to respond to that criticism with your feet.” The attacker headed the ball directly into the hands of Reina, but mainly showed himself to be a welcome point of contact in the front. The way in which he wins duels and at the same time puts the ball ready for a teammate: Anderlecht has been looking for that type of striker for a while.

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Slimani signed for six months in January, but many fans would like to see the Algerian – 34 in the meantime – stay longer. “I still want to give a lot for this club, and I hope that I can stay here. But we have to look at that with the club. I feel good here, and you can see that the team can reach a good level. We are confident with this performance anyway. Our mission for the second leg is as simple as it is complicated: if we win, we’re through. And we will give everything for that.”

Coach Riemer proud: “Team showed what it has to offer”

“I saw a very even match”, coach Brian Riemer looked back in the catacombs of the Anderlecht stadium. “In European duels you have to seize your chances. So maybe we should have scored the 2-1, but I think it’s a fair result that we can build on in Spain. We defended very strongly today and didn’t give much away.”

“We showed both as a team and individually that we can play football at a high level,” Riemer continued, who also spoke of an “incredible” Yari Verschaeren and praised Dreyer and Benito Raman, who started in the base. “We know Anders has a great shot. With Benito I wanted someone who would run both defensively and offensively and chase the opposition. He did great.” (Read more below the photo)

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The important competition match against Cercle Brugge awaits on Sunday. “You can never compare matches with each other, every match has its own history. We are in a difficult position in the competition and can only try to perform. That will pay off and if not, at least we tried.”

The return will follow in Villarreal next Thursday. “They are still favorites and very strong at home. But I think we have a good chance.” When asked about a percentage, Riemer concluded with a wink. “I would say 55 to 57 percent in their favor,” said the Dane.

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