It’s a big big night for Belgium, Belgian clubs and their fans. Three clubs – Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege – all travel for their first leg matches in the Europa League’s last 32. All three have realistic chances of reaching the last 16, and that would be excellent news for the Jupiler League.
Anderlecht probably have the toughest draw, against Eredivisie leaders AZ Alkmaar; if they go through their probable opponents would be Udinese – so if they reach the quarter finals, the boys from Brussels will have deserved it.
Club Brugge face Hannover and Christoph Daum makes his opponents favourites, but he would say wouldn’t he? Hannover lost to Standard in the group stage and Club Brugge have hit some form recently. It looks promising.
If Club Brugge do go through, they could meet Standard Liege in the last 16. That assumes that Standard overcome Wisla Krakow. That should be feasible but Standard are a young side and they will miss Jelle Van Damme on this occasion. Here’s a quick look at the three matches:
The teams have never met before. Anderlecht have only lost two of 12 matches against Dutch teams. Wasyl will be back in the side instead of Odoi; otherwise it will be the side that beat Standard last weekend. Stories that Matias Suarez will miss the game can, I think, be safely discounted. AZ have only conceded 18 goals in 21 matches in the Eredivisie. Jozy Altidore is likely to start on the bench – with Charlison Benschop starting. Note also the presence of ex-Anderlecht midfielder Maarten Martens.
These teams have never met either. Standard will have Felipe and Vainqueur back after suspension, in place of Ciman and Bjarnason. It seems Mujangi Bia will be out, with a heel injury, so Luis Seijas should get a run on the left wing. According to Polish sources, on loan striker Dudu Bilton (from Charleroi) is probably going to start on the bench.
Hannover – Club Brugge
And these clubs have never met … but in 120 matches between Belgian and German clubs, Belgian teams have just won 31! Vladan Kujovic will be in goal for Club Brugge as Bojan Jorgacevic was left off the list of registered players – to allow the outfield newcomers to be listed. Niki Zimling is doubtful and with Vadis Odjidja still unfit, that would be a big big loss!