Standard fans prepare to welcome back Steven Defour

By | January 25, 2015

Steven Defour - back at Sclessin today (copyright John Chapman).

Steven Defour – back at Sclessin today (copyright John Chapman).

Anderlecht visit Sclessin today and it’s likely to be a bit feisty. All the pre-match headlines have focused on two players: Alexander Scholz and Steven Defour. Scholz recently moved to Standard Liege from Lokeren. That didn’t please Anderlecht chairman Roger Vanden Stock who had been extremely confident that the Danish centre back would be signing for his club.

It appears there was a personal intervention from the ubiquitous Roland Duchâtelet who offered Scholz a higher salary and the deed was done. Belgium’s Golden Boot winner Dennis Praet accused Scholz of being scared of the competition at Anderlecht while Vanden Stock said he didn’t want that type of person at his club.

As for Defour, this will be his first appearance in an Anderlecht shirt at Sclessin since he joined the club from Porto in the summer. Standard’s fans are said to be waiting to give Defour a warm welcome and there are likely to be several banners proclaiming the return of ‘Judas’. Defour was a true Standard Liege legend and I remember his immense joy when Standard went to Anderlecht and defeated them with a so-called ‘B team’ back in 2011.

But Defour is a professional footballer and he chose to play for Anderlecht, on the advice of another Standard legend – Luciano D’Onofrio – as it would be good for his slightly fading career. Defour is a fighter and he’s still ambitious. He’s unlikely to stick around at Anderlecht for too long and he will thrive on the hostile atmosphere today.

Key players missing

Anderlecht have looked good in Europe, less so in the league.

Anderlecht have looked good in Europe, less so in the league.

In truth, today’s game will be short of big personalities. Anderlecht will be without several plyers due to suspension, injury and international selection while Standard are but a shadow of their former selves.

For the home side, Igor De Camargo has found some form and will lead the line. Jelle Van Damme will face his former club and it’s just possible that Scholz will start the game. Both Paul-José Mpoku and Laurent Ciman are due to leave Standard in January but are in the squad. They are likely to feature at some stage so they can say their goodbyes.

Laurent Ciman (being hugged by Dries Mertens) will say his goodbyes today  (copyright John Chapman)

Laurent Ciman (being hugged by Dries Mertens) will say his goodbyes today (copyright John Chapman)

As for Anderlecht, Alexsandar Mitrovic is suspended and will be replaced by ex-Standard man Gohi Bi Cyriac. Praet is injured while Chancel Mbemba and Frank Acheampong are away at AFCON. That will leave Anderlecht with a youthful line-up with half of the side aged 21 or younger.
These games used to be the highlight of the Belgian season but with the JPL’s playoff format, that diminishes the value of the regular games, and the mass exodus of talent in the past few years, things ain’t what they used to be.

It’s to be hoped that the young players on view do themselves justice but I’m not expecting a spectacular game and it could end with honours even. Don’t rule out the odd red card though.

Possible line-ups

Standard: Thuram; Milec, Arslanagic, Ciman, Van Damme; Faty, de Sart, Trebel, Carcela, Ono: De Camargo

Anderlecht: Proto, Colin, Heylen, Deschacht, N’Sakala: Dendoncker, Tielemans, Defour: Kabasele, Najar, Cyriac