There are just five games left in the ‘classic’ season, after which the league is split into three sections. The ‘Playoffs 1’ series will decide the champions and will be played off between the top six. Currently Anderlecht and Club Brugge look assured of a place in the top six, and Gent and Standard Liege look almost as safe, unless one of them has a catastrophic run-in. After those four, it’s any two from Kortrijk, Cercle Brugge and reigning champions Genk.
This weekend, the teams in 3rd, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places all have tricky away fixtures so any of those teams taking the three points will have done themselves a big favour. Here‘s the way the fixtures look:
Lokeren-Gent: Lokeren are an in-form team and are hoping to reach the cup final. They are unbeaten in their last six games and they’ve won their last three – last week they beat Genk at the Cristal Arena. Gent could be in trouble as they don’t seem to have a settled line-up and are inconsistent. US international Mix Diskerud could make his debut in the Gent midfield.
Mons-Genk: Mons have nothing to play for except pride but could be dangerous at home. Genk looks like a club that’s lost its soul. Kevin De Bruyne has signed for Chelsea, Daniel Tozser has signed for Genoa, Jelle Vossen does not have the coach’s confidence and Anthony Vanden Borre is just confused. If Genk lose, there will be more calls for coach Mario Been’s head.
KV Mechelen-Beerschot: With both teams heading for Playoffs 2, there is little to play for. So expect a home win.
Leuven- Cercle Brugge: Cercle need the points and are usually strong away from home. They will be without Rudy while Leuven will miss Jordan Remacle. The home side will have Olek Iakovenko who is hoping to force himself into the Ukraine squad for the Euros.
Sint Truiden-Lierse: Because of the way the Playoffs 3 system works, Sint Truiden have an interest in catching Westerlo, so except a home win. Lierse will be thinking about the cup.
Anderlecht-Westerlo: It will be a mighty big shock if Anderlecht drop points here. Olivier Deschacht will be back in for the injured Safari and Ariel Jacobs might decide to rest a few players before the Europa League return. Kabangu might start his first game for the Brussels club. On loan duo Reynaldo and Nathan Kabasele cannot play for Westerlo as Anderlecht fear they will play “out of their skins”. Bart Goor returns “home” for Westerlo.
Zulte Waregem-Standard Liege: This looks like a really tough game for Standard, especially as they will have the Europa League on their minds. Felipe is suspended and Jose Riga may rest a few players, but that’s a risk. Franck Berrier – a Standard reject – will be aiming to play “out of his skin”.
Kortrijk are having a great season, fifth in the league and in the cup final. It’s certainly the match of the weekend and Kortrijk are unbeaten in last three games. Again, Club Brugge could be thinking ‘Europe’.