Okay, that title is semi true, partly because Genk and Gent will be travelling 146km to each other tonight and next week, which in European competition terms is your own doorstep. The same can’t be said for Anderlecht who travel south to the warmer climbs of Cyprus to face APOEL tonight.
I met with a Pro League player this week which will be revealed tomorrow, and we concurred over the fact that Belgian football is growing. The fact that there will certainly be a team in the quarter finals is fantastic, just a shame it is at the expense of another, but hopefully for Les Mauves they make lighter work of the Cypriots than of Zenit, but that’s my point!
Zenit and Tottenham Hotspur were shown the competition door (a lot of doors so far unintentionally) and they were massive scalps in my opinion, especially going by my post leading up to the first legs. Ideally, Anderlecht will conquer APOEL and get another easier tie, if you can say that, in the next round.
Genk and Gent will be looking at this as a chance of progression and then who knows? The only problem for each team is that they must feel overall, they will have a better chance of Europe next season through the play offs, and if either let their guard down domestically, then next season may not prove to be as good on a Thursday night as they first thought.
The exposure of the Europa League is fantastic too, meaning either big transfer fees for top players leaving or the chance to snatch better players from the same level of league e.g Holland? Portugal? Russia? Or of lesser leagues like Switzerland, Scotland and across Scandinavia. And picking up a gem from there could prove a fantastic signing, look at Yuya Kubo for instance signed from Swiss side Young Boys, or Kalinic from Croatian outfit Hajduk Split, having a better all round improves standards at home and on the road.
All I know is that I feel more confident of 2 teams progressing rather than one last time, and it is a shame that it couldn’t be all three!