Anderlecht (1st) – Club Brugge (3rd)
The Jupiler League is back with a bang at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium as Lucas Biglia and his boys welcome their northern rivals Club Brugge. Anderlecht’s hit man Herman Van Holsbeeck has chosen this moment to say that Ariel Jacobs must win the title – and with it an automatic place in the Champions League groups. Over in the Venice of the North, new coach Christoph Daum says that his objective is to finish first or second. One feels that HVH is speaking more of the truth.
Before the match, Anderlecht’s Matias Suarez will receive the Golden Boot that he won on Wednesday night and it’s to be hoped that the withstands the pressure in the next few months. It would not be a total surprise if Suarez started on the bench following his marriage, arduous travel and celebration after the Golden Boot Gala. If he does start, then he’ll have the benefit of his captain and fellow-countryman Biglia behind him which will be a massive benefit for the team.
Club Brugge fans will be looking for one of Daum’s famous 1-0 victories, aided and abetted by ex-Anderlecht midfielder Vadis Odjidja. Odjidja never got a chance at Anderlecht, a situation that most people put down to a reluctance to play him on the part of Franky Vercauteren. His form this season has been excellent, although he’s been paying more defensively since Daum arrived.
Milan Jovanovic and Dieumerci Mbokani need to step up to the plate and it should be a fascinating game. In the last 10 such meetings, Anderlecht have won five and there have been five draws
Standard (5th) – Beerschot (9th)
Standard should be too strong for a Beerschot team that’s lost its captain Gary Kagelmacher. Young Standard striker Michi Batshuayi gets a chance to shine; Standard are unbeaten at home in 19 games.
KV Mechelen (10th) – Mons (8th)
KV Mechelen are out for revenge after losing twice to Mons this season. New boy Aloys Nong should start on the bench for Standard while KV’s captain Julien Gorius is still at the club. KV Mechelen are unbeaten in their last four games while Mons are eyeing the playoffs.
Cercle Brugge (7th) – Westerlo (15th)
Both these teams are in trouble. Cercle started brightly but have only taken four points from their last six games. Cercle’s new signing Carvalho should play, replacing Neto who has returned to Portugal. Westerlo will field Reynaldo, on loan from Anderlecht, and Bart Goor will also feature for the visitors.
Zulte Waregem (14th) – Racing Genk (6th)
Francky Dury and Franck Berrier are both back at Zulte and the latter could start the game. For Genk, new signing Tshimanga will go straight in the team but Barda is suspended. Zulte have had a terrible run but will be hoping for a Dury effect.
Lierse (13th) – Gent (2nd)
Wesley Sonck could start for Lierse who need points badly. Gent are unbeaten in their last four away games and want to put pressure on Anderlecht. El Ghanassy and Bruls should be too strong for the home side.
Leuven (11th) – Lokeren (12th)
Both teams need a win. Lokeren have drawn five of their last six games and will be weakened by captain and keeper Copa going to the African Cup of Nations. Leuven have Chuka and that could be decisive.
Sint Truiden (16th) – Kortrijk (4th)
The home side will be without the injured Reza. Kortrijk could start with both of their Anderlecht loaners: Chavarria and Veselinovic. Kortrijk won the reverse fixture 4-0 and a similar result will be no surprise.