The three Belgian teams in the Europa League (Standard Liege, Club Brugge and Anderlecht) all have tough matches today. In the initial games, all three teams avoided defeat but even one victory today would be a cause for some rejoicing.
Group B: Standard Liege
Standard are at home to Copenhagen, currently top of the Danish league with nine wins in 10 games. The visitors have only conceded six goals in those 10 league games and opened up their Europa League account with a 1-0 victory over Vorskla Poltava.
Standard achieved a creditable draw in Hannover for their first match but the league form of Les Rouches has not been impressive. They are still searching for the right formula and tonight could see Jelle Van Damme move into central midfield andA lot depends how seriously Standard are taking the Europa League and José Riga could make more changes, given his large and lopsided squad. The crowd is not expected to pass 15,000, disappointing given the full house last Sunday in the league match with Cercle Brugge.
Copenhagen man to watch: Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye – averaging a goal every two games.
Overall expectations: It’s a reasonably tough group with Copenhagen and Hannover as favourites to qualify.
Group H: Club Brugge
Adrie Koster’s men go to last year’s Europa League finalists Braga. The Portuguese side opened up their campaign with a 3-1 win at English second division side Birmingham City. Braga are unbeaten in the Portuguese league, sharing top spot with Benfica and Porto.
Club Brugge are in confident mood as they currently top the Jupiler League. Their man in form is playmaker Vadis Odjidja, now showing a maturity that he lacked last season and again named in the Belgium squad today. Withalso in the line-up, Brugge will not be short of quality. They will also be looking to Bjorn Vleminckx to show why he started as the favourite to be the league’s leading scorer. Club Brugge took three points from Maribor in their opening game but a win tonight would be a surprise.
Overall expectations: Club Brugge should qualify along with Braga.
Lokomotiv are unbeaten in 14 games (all competitions).
Anderlecht have been playing some attractive attacking football of late. The in-form players (who combine well) are Matias Suarez, Fernando Canesin, Milan Jovanovic (who misses the trip due to a hamstring problem) and Lucas Biglia.
The team has been more 4-4-2 this season with Biglia and American Sacha Kljestan in central midfield.Anderlecht’s weakness is in defence where only Roland Juhasz is a top-class performer.
Lokomotiv man to watch: experienced striker Dmitri Sychev.