Today sees two major games in the Jupiler League; Anderlecht-Standard might not be the biggest club game in the world but it’s big in Belgium. Earlier, the Club Brugge-Gent clash should also be rather tasty.
The match at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium will be one of the most fascinating in this ‘Clasico’ series for some time. This is because several of the main personalities have a bit of history with the opposing side. Lining up for Anderlecht will be ‘Dieu’ (Dieumerci Mbokani) and ‘Jova’ (Milan Jovanovic) who were both instrumental in Standard Liege’s back-to-back championship-winning side of a few years ago. Opposing them in the red shirts of Liege will be Jelle Van Damme, once a key figure in Anderlecht’s own title-winning team and, not to be forgotten, Meme Tchite who was also in the Brussels team’s 2007 championship-winning side.
‘Jova’ has said he won’t celebrate (wildly) if he scores today. ‘Dieu’ has remarked that it’s just another game for him and the same comment came from Van Damme, now captain of Standard. We will see what transpires – all four are lively characters.
On the pitch, it will be a vibrant and in-form Anderlecht outfit against a Standard team that has looked good in Europe while struggling in the league. Anderlecht will be more or less at full strength and may decide to leave out 18-year-old revelation Fernando Canesin so that Jovanovic can be re-integrated.
Anderlecht will doubtless leave Ronald Vargas on the bench and Standard may do the same with their Venezuelan Luis Seijas, as both had 18 hour flights back from international duty recently. Seijas was spectacular against Copenhagen but Standard will probably want to go with two defensive midfielders (Vainqueur and Buyens) on Sunday. That will leave Franck Berrier to look after the creative department. Anderlecht will have Matias Suarez and Lucas Biglia as well as their two ‘in-comers’ and will start favourites. But the last time that the teams met, a Standard ‘B’ team took the honours in Brussels.
If Anderlecht do slip up, then either Club Brugge or Gent could go top of the Jupiler League. Club Brugge will be favourites as Gent have major problems in beating other top teams in the league. If Gent don’t overcome that particular weakness, then Trond Sollied’s men can forget about collecting any trophies. The home side will be without Victor Vasquez, out with a fractured rib. Gent have quality but might not be strong enough against a ‘Club’ side that are genuine title contenders.