Tonight could see key moments in both the first and second division playoffs. Most eyes will be on the match at Waregem where Francky Dury’s team play Anderlecht. Other games will see second place Club Brugge go to Genk and third place Standard visit Lokeren.
If Anderlecht win tonight and on Sunday against Lokeren in Brussels, then they will be champions. That would be remarkable since it’s only a few weeks since the dark days of John Van den Brom. But it’s not certain that they will win tonight. Zulte Waregem have not lost at home for 20 matches and the occasion will be special as the home fans will want to see Thorgan Hazard play his last game for the club in a winning team.
It’s still feasible, with two games to go, for any of the top three to be champions. Even Zulte Waregem could win the title but that would require no more victories for either Anderlecht or Club Brugge.
Tonight, the younger Hazard will line up in midfield with Sven Kums, ex Heerenveen, and Olafur Skularson, who was once on Arsenal’s books. 18 year-old Theo Bongonda, a quasi-graduate of one of the many Jean-Marc Guillou academies, will be on the wing and there have been good reports of the teenager.
Anderlecht will once again have their own brand of youngsters with Young Player of the year, Youri Tielemans, Massimo Bruno and Dennis Praet, although Aleksander Mitrovic may start on the bench.
Club Brugge will be hoping Anderlecht slip up as they are level on points. They go to Genk without Timmy Simons and Jasper Jorgensen, both suspended, and Vadis Odjidja who is injured again. Eidur Gudjohnsen is likely to be called up and Waldemar Sobota will move back into midfield.
Standard suffered last weekend and might feel their chance has gone. William Vainqueur is still suspended and will be missed.
The only certain outcome tonight is that there will be surprises.
Standings after 8 games out of 10:
Anderlecht 45, Club Brugge 45, Standard 43. Zulte Waregem 41, Lokeren 34, Genk 29
Division 2 Playoffs
At the half-way stage in the division 2 playoffs – to see who is promoted – any of the four teams involved could take the prize. Eupen lead the table with six points (both away wins) from three games. Tonight they face third place Mouscron-Péruwelz. Eupen have been taken over by the Qatari Aspire academy and have been likened to Beveren of a decade ago. The average age of the team is 22 and over half of the squad have arrived from Africa.
For their part, Mouscron-Péruwelz grew out of the Mouscron club that went bankrupt and are now a feeder club for Lille. The fans don’t like that and it’s not obvious what the future holds.
Second place Leuven, with a win, a draw and a defeat so far, will want to keep their place in the top division. They have a derby at Sint-Truiden, who have one win and two defeats so far, and a home win for Standard’s feeder club – coached by Yannick Ferrera (nephew of Genk’s Emilio) – could put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Standings after three games out of six
Eupen 6, Leuven 4, Mouscron-Péruwelz 4, Sint-Truiden 3.