Tonight, Belgium expects! Well, at least, the fans of Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege are looking forward to success in their Europa League games. Football fans being what they are, supporters of other clubs might be hoping for the odd banana skin.
Last Thursday was a disappointing night for all three clubs in the last 32. Anderlecht went to AZ Alkmaar and were totally outplayed. Standard Liege were in Krakow and despite playing against 10 men for most of the game, they could only manage a 1-1 draw. Finally Club Brugge started brightly but lost 2-1 against what looked like a superior Hannover team. How do tonight’s matches shape up?
Anderlecht-AZ Alkmaar: (Anderlecht 41.9% chance of going through). The Anderlecht team should be the one that finished against AZ (assuming Guillaume Gillet’s wife is not giving birth), with Deschacht at left back. Anderlecht’s main hope is that AZ don’t seem to like travelling – no victory in Europe since September 2007. The odds are against the home team but they have some big game players.
Club Brugge-Hannover: (Club Brugge 51.6%). The home team won’t like the pitch, which is due to be replaced. They will also be without Donk (suspended), Stenman (out for six months) and Odjidja (still recovering from a knee injury). The changes in defence – with Almeback and Hogli coming in – could make it a difficult night for Club Brugge.
Standard Liege -Wisla Krakow: (Standard 76.3%). Standard rarely lose at home and are in a strong position after the 1-1 in Krakow. However, they will be without four midfielders: Van Damme (long-term), Vainqueur (suspended), Mujangi Bia and Seijas (heel and ligaments respectively). That should mean a place for Birar Bjarnason and they’ll have a full complement of strikers. The fans should be good enough to ensure qualification.