Posted in Uncategorized

Kan we Play Foot-Bal?

Whether the title is poor, cryptic, clever, whatever…I was looking at the nationalities of the Pro League squads. Before I expanded my search beyond Romanian players, which was the initial point of this post, I have noticed a lot of the players who influence the outcome, whether in a good or bad way, also come from BALKANS (get the title now? Bal and Kan) and thought I’d have a little look further into how many and their affects.

Okay, people who actually took the time to look at my ‘Brits Abroad’ post may say this is similar, which I’d understand, but this is more up to date than listing how many players overtime may have achieved stuff in Belgium. 

The reason I expanded my search beyond Romania is because there are 4 players…Just 4. I could save you all time and wrap this up now, but I shall not unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, 3 of the 4 are real quality in the Pro League and ply their trades at the top clubs, and the other is Dorin Rotariu. That is unfair, and in his defence, this is his first year outside of Romania and hasn’t completed 90 minutes yet AND is young.

But the youngster will hope next year will be his breakthrough season and will follow in the footsteps of compatriots Razvan Marin (Standard Liege), Nicolae Stanciu and Alexandru Chipciu (both Anderlecht) who are all key in their own way for their respective clubs. Although Marin is still young, he has proved his worth so far, whereas the Anderlecht duo came together from the same club and have had a season to adjust. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

But after the low number of Romanian players currently turning out in Belgium’s top flight, I thought I’d look at 2 more Balkan nations on Croatia and Serbia. Starting with the former, Croatia, much like Romania really came to the football party in the 90s. Even though I am only 27, I still remember Davor Suker turning it on at Euro 96 and World Cup 98 where we all remember Romania dying their hair and topping England’s group at the tournament, but I digress…Croatia have no less than 8 players in Pro League squads across the nation. 
Obviously, again, some players are more key than others, for example, Lovre Kalinic whos squad number may be 91, but is simply Gent’s No. 1 in goal since signing in December and is their all time record signing at that. At the other end of the spectrum, Mouscron have their own 2 Croatian goalkeepers in Alen Saric-Hodzic and Matej Delac who are in direct competition and also facing the drop unfortunately.

Courtesy of Getty Images

The other Croats are Fran Brodi (Club Brugge), Tomislav Barbaric (Kortrijk), Antonio Milic (Oostende), Mario Ticinovic and Nikola Jambor (both Lokeren) with Milic and Ticinovic spending the longest in Belgium thus far.
Lastly in this post, the nation that completes this trio is Serbia. They represent the league in a big way, with 18…Yes, 18 players coming from the country formerly known as Yugoslavia. Whether this is good or bad, quite similarly to Croatia, Serbia have the biggest cluster of players at Mouscron. I’m not saying that they’re poor players, but with a larger amount of foreign players in this little segment at the team most likely to be in a lower division next season, maybe you can point the finger at that. However, Anderlecht have 2 Serbians and 2 Romanians, so they may not be a factor whatsoever. 

The fact you can build a Serbian squad with 18 players, it would be fascinating on how they’d fair in the Pro League, although having no goalkeeper would probably hinder them. To list these I may do this in positional format rather than by team and to be fair, some are new to Belgium and some are old but they are what makes up this crazy league, with other nationalities, of course built on Be-Ne-Rance way with Belgium, Netherlands and France, and then sprinkled within are these bunch of foreign players who add their quality.

The list by the way is:

DEFENDERS

Vladimir Kovacevic (Kotrijk) Uros Vitas, Aleksandar Bjelica (Mechelen)   Bojan Mastic (Genk) Nemanja Miletic (Westerlo) Darko Bjedov, Stefan Mitrovic (Gent) Nikola Gulan (Mouscron) Ivan Obradovic, Uros Spajic (Anderlecht) Milos Kosanovic, Filip Mladenovic (Standard Liege)     

MIDFIELDERS 

Nebosja Pavlovic, Jovan Stojanovic (Kotrijk) Luka Stojanovic (Mouscron) Branislav Ninaj (Lokeren)

FORWARDS

Fejsal Mulic and Filip Markovic (Mouscron)

As you can see, I’m guessing creativity isn’t at the top of the Belgian-Serbian list, but more ruthless, defensive stability, with Mechelen, Anderlecht and Standard Liege being the most trusting. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

If you actually made it this far, maybe this might be telling, with just 3 selected countries making up over 2 starting lineups in Belgium through depth of players, but this isn’t a criticism, just a show of possibly an untapped market that Belgium have stumbled upon, knowing there is quality, for them at least, out there.
Chat later

                                                                        

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Posted in Uncategorized

Goals Galore as the Top Two Soar 

I had to have goals in the title this week with 26 chances taken in the Pro League this weekend, with the most coming Friday night as Club Brugge absolutely demolished Zulte-Waregem. 

I really thought this would be tighter than the scoreline suggests, but total capitulation is all that happened instead. The match was dominated from top to bottom by the champions who may feel they have to start turning on the style like Anderlecht have done recently. Goals from Vormer (2), Izquierdo and Bjorn Engels before half time killed off the match. Waregem started Gueye and Leye and probably fancied their chances, but obviously nothing happened at all, as Jelle Vossen completed the scoring midway through the second half from the penalty spot. Maybe with Brugge being out of Europe, this could help out long term ahead of their title rivals, but only time will tell.

Going into Saturday, the games were just as entertaining as the night before. The only match that came close was the last of the evening, as Oostende dismantled Westerlo, where the home team were just blown away by the Belgian Cup finalists. After a first half which may have given Westerlo hope, that was dashed as Daniel Christensen conceded a penalty and Nany Dimata showed no mercy, making it 1-0. With that said, it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes til it all fell apart, with Musona, Jonckheere and Marusic ended the scoring. 

Before then, three matches took place, starting with Charleroi showing their class against St Truiden who showed great courage, but were thwarted 3 minutes before time with Hamdi Harbaoui getting on the end of a Clement Tainmont assist. Charleroi have been fantastic recently, only winning or losing by the odd goal since Boxing Day, and only losing twice in 2017, both away to Gent and Club Brugge which isn’t bad at all.

The last two matches Saturday involved 2 teams on a high, securing their league status in Waasland-Beveren and Eupen, visiting Kortrijk and Lokeren who haven’t been fantastic on a consistent note for a little while really. I said on Friday I felt the away pairing would make the matches competitive and I believed they may have both taken all three points, and they did. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

The match at the Guldensporenstadion was done and dusted in 5 second half minutes. Alessandro Cerigioni netted a brace either side of an Idriss Saadi effort to make sure Beveren went back to the Freethiel with all three points. In the other match, maybe the best team lost as Lokeren couldn’t take advantage against 10 man Eupen, who have shown amazing spirit in recent weeks. Ibrahim Diallo received his marching order just before the half hour which may have spelled the end for the pandas, but around ten minutes later, Eupen struck through Eric Ocansey. However, Lokeren replied the only way they could just four minutes later through experienced Swiss defended Mijat Maric. With the game coming to a close, another late strike by the great Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru made sure that goal, along with his assist, meant Eupen would again take all 3 points. With that result Eupen have now jumped over Lokeren in the table.
On Sunday, three fantastic matches took place starting with Eupen’s local rivals Standard Liege taking on Mechelen in a bit of a to-and-fro of a match. Standard took the lead through Kosanovic 5 minutes before the break. With that goal you’d think Liege would see out the half, but Mats Rits had something to say about that, not only scoring on half time, but coming out and turning the game on its head making it 2-1 early in the second half.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Les Rouches fans must’ve been spitting feathers, even if Mechelen’s form has been good of late, they’d feel they’d probably still win. But a win isn’t what they got. Thankfully for them Orlando Sa continued his good recent form striking five minutes after Rits to share the spoils. 
With more goals in the early match, Anderlecht would’ve taken anything after Brugge’s magnificent result Friday night, and the result never looked in doubt with a straightforward 2-0 win over fellow midweek Europa League winners Genk. Youri Tielemans again being the main difference, firstly by assisting centre half Kara Mbodji, and then sealing the victory five minutes into the second half. Looking at the stats, it goes to show, and most people know this anyway, that that extra bit of quality can be the difference when winning a match, as it was tighter than the result suggests.

The final match of the weekend was a bit of a formality as Tottenham’s conquerers Gent hosted bottom side Mouscron. Mouscron could’ve taken advantage of Westerlo’s drubbing the night before, but it would’ve been a huge task against a confident Gent. Samuel Kalu killed the game plan for the visitors after a 7 minute strike, and then the returning Yuya Kubo settled the match on the half hour. Perbet then put the icing on the cake 7 minutes into the second half, until a late goal by half time substitute Luka Stojanovic was merely a consolation.

The league looks like it consists of mini groups vying for the title, Europe and survival. Not long til the league separates and until then, teams are either already on the beach, or focussed on what lies ahead.

Talk soon

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Alejandro Pozuelo

This week I scoured the league and I was looking at performances in both the league and in regards to total too, so I thought why not the Spaniard for Genk who has really taken to leadership like a duck to water… Alejandro Pozuelo.

Joining in 2015, he has flourished into such a key player taking the captaincy this calender year. A mainstay in midfield he can play anywhere as an orthodox midfielder, or adequately on the wing. Even though he was always key to what Genk have done, his importance has gone up a couple of levels once Leon Bailey and Wilfred Ndidi left. With them moving on in January, he has really stepped up and I guess the worrying thing for Genk is that if Pozuelo continues into the next January window with his form, he may move to a Champions League side like the previous two mentioned.

He has pitched in with his fair share of goals from midfield with 6 in total in the Pro League, but the good thing for Genk is that they seem to spread their goals around the side. With 7 assists too, that isn’t bad too for someone who has sometimes been playing as a deep lying midfielder, but the fact 6 of those assists came against Mouscron and Lokeren, home and away, that isn’t actually that great, with the odd assist coming recently against St Truiden in De Limburges Derby. Speaking of that match, he did basically run it by dismantling their local rivals in a 7 minute blitz.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Tomorrow, Pozuelo will certainly hope things turn out better than the last time Genk played Anderlecht. At the Luminus Arena, De Smurfen collectively lost 2-0, but individually, Pozuelo received two yellow cards in two minutes, meaning the next game is the only match he has missed in the league this season. With his fantastic recent performances, I’m sure he’ll show more maturity as they travel to Brussels, regardless of the result, however, with Genk’s away record, I’m unsure of maybe 3 points, but with the 2 teams European antics this week, anything can happen.
With Pozuelo being Spanish, he is fantastic technically and sitting as the playmaker right in the middle of midfield, he keeps things ticking over and can dictate play on his day. With Leandro Trossard and Mbwana Samata usually ahead of him up the pitch, and Alejandro pulling the strings, this could be interesting tomorrow as Genk are still fighting to sneak into the championship play offs, 2 points off of Charleroi in 6th and with three match days to go, including the visit to Anderlecht, there’s a tight group of five teams separated by just four points. 

Games like in midweek versus Astra and tomorrow against Anderlecht, these are the matches where Pozuelo can showcase his talent and hopefully excel, not just for himself, but the travelling support to the match from Limburg region. Maybe with the right recruitment and holding onto Pozuelo, who says Genk cant relive the 2010/11 season?

Posted in Matches in Brief

The End is Coming

With not long left until the play offs, it’s mainly around the waist of the table and top where points are beginning to matter most. 

And the top is where we’ll begin,with Club Brugge playing on consecutive Friday nights, this time hosting 3rd place Zulte Waregem. A fantastic way to start the fixtures off of the back of heroics in Europe too, the Pro League’s stock could be at its highest right now! With the black and blues a bit sketchy right now, Zulte could draw closer to the top with a win, currently 5 points off of top right now.

Saturday night’s affairs aren’t as glamorous in all honesty as we start with Charleroi looking to take all 3 points against a dour St Truiden.

Following this are equally average matches involving Kortrijk-Beveren and Lokeren-Eupen. The fascinating factor in these matches for me is the upturn in form of Waasland Beveren and Eupen, which could make these matches competitive as they both travel away in two evenly fought out matches, on paper, as they are all bunched together between 10th and 13th.

The last match of the Saturday night fixtures involve second bottom Westerlo, who are still scrapping for survival, against Belgian cup finalists KV Oostende. Westerlo do have a decent front 2 as it goes but defensively they just can’t hold on.

Sunday sees the Europa League heroes all play, with 2 of them facing each other at The Constant Vanden Stock where Genk travel to Brussels to play Anderlecht. Les Mauves have been tinkering with their line up recently and have still come up with the goods, but Genk will look to put a stop to that and will aim to grab all 3 points! 

Before that there’s Standard Liege versus Mechelen, who seem to be getting better with every match. Up to fifth in the table now, they’ll be looking to get a positive result away at Les Rouches who haven’t actually been that bad in 2017 and will look to get more than a point this Sunday.

To cap of this round of games, Gent will host Royal Excel Mouscron. If Westerlo win at home the night before, nothing but a win will do for Mouscron otherwise they’re down. Mouscron’s saviour in one way is that Gent did lose to Eupen when they were at their lowest, so nothings impossible, but by defeating Spurs, Gent will feel buoyed.

With lots more twists and turns, anything is possible this weekend! 

Posted in Pro League in Europe

Mission Complete

An amazing night following on from my Europa League blog recently where all three Pro League sides progressed to the next round in Europe! Drama in one match, a fantastic game plan in another and professional performance in the third.

We’ll start with the earlier kick off where Anderlecht tried their very best to get knocked out, honest! 3-0 away to Zenit St Petersburg with ten minutes to play showed how willing Les Mauves were to get knocked out of this seasons Europa League. It really was the Giuliano and Dzyuba show in Russia as they were dismantling the Belgians, until stand in striker on the night Isaac Kiese Thelin ended the 2008 UEFA Cup winners hopes with a 90th minute away goal. Unbelievable.

Quickly, but definitely not a sidenote, Genk showed great professionalism by getting the job done at home against Astra with a simple 1-0 (3-2 on aggregate). Alejandro Pozuelo scoring the goal to wrap up the tie midway through the second half, once again proving how important he has been throughout this season. Showing real leadership too.

The final match was my most uneasy tie involving Belgium, where Gent visited Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, and I was thankfully proved correct in that Spurs right now just can’t play there. Gent coming back twice to draw 2-2 on the night, mirroring Genk’s aggregate scoreline and same outcome with a draw away and a 1-0 win at home. Another fantastic European night all round! 

Courtesy of Getty Images

Hopefully all teams will be rewarding with a half decent draw in the next round and will prolong their stay in European competition. Genuinely chuffed for all 3!
Come on!

Posted in Pro League in Europe

Objective: Qualification

A quick post regarding tonight’s Europa League. All the Pro League teams have an edge in their respective matches leading up to the second leg. I must admit, I wasn’t as confident as the outcomes suggested. I thought 2 out of the three teams could potentially do well, but with Gent playing so well against Spurs, all three have a great chance of progression.

Anderlecht have possibly the best chance with a 2 goal cushion against a team who aren’t playing regularly enough, and have done so well in the league too, having the luxury of resting players in each game as well and picking up results.

Genk and Gent both drew at the weekend with maybe 1 eye on tonight’s matches, but with Genk having those away goals, they may have the best chance out of the 2 seeing as Tottenham did blow Fulham away on Sunday and have no real injury concerns either. With it being at Wembley, I still feel that’s what gives Gent their best chance.

I really do hope all 3 go into the next round, and I’m sure at least one will, but for the progression of the Pro League on a European scale, they’ll all need to progress really. 

I’ll write a more in depth blog post tomorrow regarding the results and performances and fingers cross, 100% progression rate at that too.

Come on! 

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Standard Liege 2008/09

​I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.

The season, rather than competition today is the crazy league season where you literally couldn’t split Standard Liege and Anderlecht. Neck and neck all season they never stepped foot out of the top four throughout the entire campaign. The thing is, it’s not even going back a decade, but this season as it drew to a close basically sucked me in. For a league season to be this tight and not take goal difference into consideration, and by the looks of it, head to head as well, the league season came down to a two legged final.

At the time I was 18. I followed all football, but when a league season is such a one off in any nation, up and down the pyramid, you have to see what happens. Standard Liege were at the time full of quality players, and players who became quality, with the likes of Witsel, Fellaini, Defour and a young Benteke. But their main man up top was Mbokani. His goals proved vital throughout the season and looking now, it’s a shame he didn’t progress as well as his other teammates and like so many who come from Belgium to England, although he came to England quite a while later. 

But back to the football, Liege really set the Standard…Wait, can I say that? Their record was identical to Anderlecht with both achieving 24 wins, 5 draws and 5 defeats, if anything, Anderlecht would feel hard done by as they had a better goal difference, but nevertheless, if that doesn’t matter, Standard will always be the champions when you look at the records. 

I believe that a league doesn’t really take shape until after the tenth match, obviously as a fan though you obviously go game by game and that will determine your mood, but as of almost exactly half way into the season, there were only 2 possibilities for the Pro League. The 2 fierce rivals swapped positions 5 times from week 16 onwards, with Anderlecht stealing a march more often, but the thing that really helped the reigning Champions, Standard, was their incredible home form, winning 1 more than Anderlecht (15 in total) but for both to only win 3 away is appalling really. Both would’ve loved Mons’ away form as they ended up winning 14 away matches this season! Incredible!

Standard even started the season with a new coach, as Michel Preud’homme left for pastures new, still within Belgium’s top flight at Gent, with Standard hiring Romanian coach Laszlo Bölöni from Al Jazeera in the Middle East. With some decent team on his CV, he has still gone on to return to the Middle East to carry on coaching after his success in Liege. 

If history has anything to go by, it’s no surprise that Standard Liege followed up their previous title by retaining it. They retain basically every title they win if you look over their history. And as the 2008/2009 season drew to an end, there was only one score to settle. Who was going to win the league? 

With Anderlecht being top for 10 weeks out of the final 12 you’d think mentally they may edge it, but Standard were equally as good, of course, and it was 1-1 in regards to head to head in the league. With the first leg in Brussels in late May, it was still even with the match ending 1-1. Goals from Legear for Anderlecht and that man Mbokani it sort of gave Standard the edge with the fact they didn’t lose, and with it being so cagey, 1 goal did settle it overall through Axel Witsel scoring late in the second half to crown the team furthest East as Belgian Champions!

After that amazing season, I feel the outcome forced the restructure of the Pro League, with the league losing 2 sides to make it a 16 team league, and that play offs were then introduced too, maybe to stop this ever happening again?

Standard Liege never contested the league the next season, finishing the season in 8th, not qualifying for Europe, and their best finish since was finishing top in the 2013/14 season, only to be overhauled by their old foe Anderlecht in the Championship play off.

Til next week!

Posted in Uncategorized

Week 27 Roundup

Sorry for not particularly writing much in recent days, if anybody does read this, due to being away and illness. With that said, and you may not have missed my posts as much, the Pro League this weekend was something that shouldn’t have been missed! With an average of 3 goals a game in each fixture, that must’ve shown as there were 6 victors along the way too.

We’ll start at the beginning, funnily enough, as leaders Club Brugge had the opportunity to put pressure on those around them and get an early three points. Originally, that plan wasn’t coming together as strugglers Westerlo took an early lead, and I brought this up the other week regarding Silvère Ganvoula M’Boussy where an Anderlecht loanee could make things difficult for the other challengers. His goal making it 1-0. After that it was basically one way traffic as the goal sparked the champions back into life. It did take until the last 20 minutes for Brugge’s breakthrough via an own goal by Nemanja Miletic who half blocked a Hans Vanaken as it looped over his goalkeeper. Then Vanaken stole the show with a fine volley in the final 10 minutes to seal the vital win.

Courtesy of Getty Images

In my opinion, Brugge haven’t looked all that in recent matches but have scraped victories in matches they should be winning more comfortably. I guess you could say that’s a sign of title challengers but goals coming from more than one source is a huge bonus.
 The first match on Saturday included Mechelen and Lokeren where Mechelen have shown some decent form recently against a patchy Lokeren. The scoreline looked a formality with Mechelen winning 3-0 with goals from Verdier, Kolovos and Osaguona. Not much more to say except Kolovos was subbed 6 minutes after his goal and replaced by Glenn Claes, who only lasted an half an hour before then being subbed, and Osaguona made a huge impact scoring the same minute he came on. Three fantastic goals and all different too which should please Yannick Ferrera.

Next up, Eupen’s week got so much better as again they snuck a 1-0 win at home this time against Kortrijk. Moussa Wague was this weeks hero, helping shut out 2 of the leagues current prolific striker’s, keeping a clean sheet and netting the winner 10 minutes from time. Kortrijk showed their lack of discipline too as Anthony Van Loo picked up 2 yellow cards in the second half as well. After ending January and starting February well, Kortrijk’s form has gone back on the slide. With the result, Eupen have all but secured their status for yet another season.

And talking of securing their league status, that’s basically what Beveren have done and in the best way as they’ve possibly condemned Mouscron to relegation. The match started better for the hosts as Kabasele scored midway through the first half. However, French defender Rudy Camacho struck a reply for the visitors with a penalty right on half time.

All in all, it was very even throughout and I guess a draw would’ve been fair, but that wasn’t to be as Beveren struck the killer blow through their No. 10 Steeven Langil in the last ten minutes to again, seal their Pro League status. Mouscron look all but down with a tough run in and Westerlo being their only realistic rival for the drop.

I say only realistic because thanks to Beveren and Eupen’s recent form, St Truiden have made themselves available for relegation and mathematically, can still go down. Losing 4-1 away at Zulte-Waregem doesn’t help either, although after the 1st forty five minutes things looked good, with a Steven De Petter strike after the half hour. 

That was the only plus, as the capitulation began, with Zulte scoring 4 goals in a 30 minute spell. Goals from Lerager, Gueye, Leye and Kaya dismantled De Kanaries who have slept walked, maybe not into relegation, but certainly down the table. Zulte on the other hand reacted in the right way after a courageous display against Anderlecht last time out. 

Going into Sunday, the three impressive Europa League teams played, starting with Gent away at Standard Liege, and the hosts took the lead with an Orlando SA strike a minute before half time. But Gent’s response was swift as they equalised 6 minutes into the second half through Serbian defender Stefan Mitrovic. That point didn’t do much for each side, and the same could be said for the last match of the weekend as Genk and Charleroi met in another 1-1 draw. Both matches very well contested and similar as the home side in both took the lead and the visitors pegged back the hosts both times with a quick response. Trossard with a penalty for Genk and Marinos for Charleroi ended the affair.

The meat in this sandwich on Sunday included 4th vs 2nd as Oostende played Anderlecht. Les Mauves didn’t need too long to settle down as Sofiane Hanni continued his good recent league form with a second minute finish. Nany Dimata hit back from the penalty spot as it was 1-1 leading into half time. Then the cavalry came in the form of Youri Tielemans who made himself the hero, scoring 2 goals in 2 minutes. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

The youngster really stepping up in recent weeks and proving to be the leader we know he can be. Lukasz Teodorczyk put the icing on the cake with a stoppage time goal, increasing his season tally and really flexing the muscles from the boys from Brussels.
This round of matches has shown that it’s a 2 horse race really at both ends of the table, with one team hanging around like a bad smell, and that the congestion in the middle is still proving to be entertaining, as teams are still fighting to get into the championship play off, or stay out of it depending on how you look at it (Standard Liege).

Til next time

Posted in Matches in Brief

Match Day 27 Build Up

With not long left the season is proving to be unpredictable at both ends of the table still and even in the middle, as teams are aiming to be in the mix for European qualification places and maybe the latest of late surges for the title? And we start tonight actually with 2 teams vying for three points, as they are desperately needed for both, with Westerlo welcoming leaders, just, Club Brugge. 

I’m a believer that match timings actually do help a lot with both winning the league and relegation battles, although with relegation, wins are always needed. Brugge haven’t looked too convincing for a little while now which has seen Anderlecht draw level on points before this week’s round of matches, and maybe getting their affairs out the way early before the other contenders may ease some pressure. 

Going into Saturday there’s some great matches, whether it’s due to where the teams are evenly matched through league position or on recent form. For example, Mechelen host Lokeren. Not mouth watering I know, but thanks to Lokeren they’ve taken four points off of the top 2 very recently and will hope that home form can be taken away to Mechelen who themselves climbed the table last week, and halted Kortrijk’s mini run in the process.

Speaking of Kortrijk, they travel to Eupen, who gave themselves a massive boost last week winning 1-0 away with the latest of late winners via their young hotshot Henry Onyekuru away at Gent. But with Kortrijk having 2 hotshots at their own disposal, I’m not confident Eupen will keep a clean sheet tomorrow night. 

With that last sentence being said, I feel the same about St Truiden as they travel to Zulte Waregem. Both teams lost last time out, one convincingly at home in De Limburges Derby last friday night in De Kanaries case, ad the other who may have looked to have been dismantled, but put up a good fight in Zulte away at Anderlecht and Mbaye Leye will be hungry for more goals I’m sure.

The last match to discuss on Saturday is huge at the bottom with Mouscron taking on Beveren. This match may be low on quality in all honesty by high on pressure, hopefully appetite and dedication, and hopefully high on goals! Mouscron will be hoping to win, not just because they’re bottom, but to keep in touching distance with those above, plus if Beveren win, they’re all but safe so three points are basically both teams only option.

Sunday sees the three impressive Europa League teams play. All three matches are acttually great, starting with Standard Liege and Gent. Standard finally won last time out with an uninspiring 1-0 away win against Beveren. Gent however through away even a point again Eupen, but with that morale boosting win over Tottenham, this could be feisty more than anything.
Later Oostende host Anderlecht which is still so important for both teams at the top of the table, both knowing and able to digest what Brugge had already done 2 nights previous, and we end with Genk taking on Charleroi, which again is the 3rd mouth watering match of the Sunday, and will conclude the week where every point is vital leading up to the play off situation in Belgium! 

Posted in Pro League in Europe

Great Night on Thursday

And it really was. My last piece looking at the Europa League I wasn’t feeling confident in all honesty. Every team had reason to not be as successful as they ended up being, however, I pointed out the fact every opposition had their flaws, and that proved to be rather true on the night.

We’ll start with my prediction of which team would end up doing the best and having the best chance of professing, and they drew and picked up 2 away goals. Genk went to Romania to face Astra where I was confident of victory, but they threw it away in the last minute unfortunately. Goals from young full back Timothy Castagne and Leandro Trossard either side of the break ensured that taking two away goals back to Belgium may prove pivotal, even though a win was firmly on the cards until the last minute.

Going into the other two matches on the night, I wasn’t as confident, starting with Gent who hosted Tottenham. Spurs in my opinion fielded a stronger side on the night in what seemed evenly contested, let their guard down just before the hour as Danijel Milicevic set up Jeremy Perbet for the only goal on the night, and to be honest, a vital goal, as Spurs really aren’t that great at Wembley. The did beat CSKA Moscow last time there but that was a Europa League play off in the end so not much was riding on it.

Finally we see Anderlecht defeat Zenit 2-0 with two first half goals from Frank Acheampong confirming that cushion with the return leg in Russia. Anderlecht rested a couple of players which could be so helpful before the weekend, and enabled on loan goalkeeper Ruben to not only get a run out, but also a clean sheet. 

All in all a great night result wise for Belgian clubs in Europe and even though my last few post haven’t been about the Pro League, they’ve certainly shown the strength in European competition, which can only be progressive.