Leading up to the first round of Championship play off fixtures, I thought I’d look at where the teams would’ve placed if their meetings throughout the season meant anything in the final part. I think I even lost track of what I just typed there! But anyway, here is how the teams faired.
Top of the top 6 form tree would be Anderlecht (unsurprisingly). The team who finished top in the regular season is also the form team in this top 6 head to head. They managed to win 50% of their matches, losing 20% and averaging 2.4 goals for per game. For me they have the momentum going into this, putting a fantastic run together towards the end of the season, resting players and progressing in the Europa League too.
Their closest challengers according to the standings is (unsurprisingly again) Club Brugge. The reigning champions in this mini league are only a point off Anderlecht in this head to head, also winning 50% of their matches, but for me, even though they have a fantastic defensive record, conceding in 4 of their 10 games, the firepower is pretty tame, scoring 11 goals and that could be their downfall. One goal is all it takes of course, but when you haven‘t scored away at all in the regular season against Anderlecht, Zulte Waregem, Gent, Oostende or Charleroi, the best you can hope for is a point. They did however get 100% of points at home.
Third in this segment is… Charleroi! Finishing 6th in the regular season, a point ahead of both Mechelen and Genk, it was their home form that saw them succeed here managing 10 points at home, losing only to Anderlecht. I think what helped Charleroi get into this position is the fact they just went about their business. I thought they were impressive seeing as at one stage they had tricky fixtures in which they overcome superbly in 2017. I think getting into Europe is their primary aim and would be a great achievement.
The next team is Gent, who snuck in on the last day. Now out of the Europa League, that may act as a positive going into this championship play off. Their record isn’t actually too impressive, managing the same amount as defeats to victories, but mainly drawing the majority of their head to head fixtures. The thing is on their day, Gent can be very good so don’t be surprised with a good end to the season.
Oostende are 5th in this break down. Like Club Brugge away, goals are a problem for De Kustboys who have the worst goals to game ratio, scoring 9 in 10 against the rest of the top 6. That sort of shocked me with their decent strike force of Dimata and Musona, but they will hope to bounce back after their loss in the cup final. They average a point per match.
Lastly it is the cup winners Zulte Waregem who have a dismal 8 points out of a possible 30 in this head to head. Their only victory came against Anderlecht at home. Along with their terrible points, their goal difference is pretty poor too, with a -10 goal difference. With the Beker van Belgie in the bag, hopefully they’ll turn their attention to the league now regarding their opposition for the rest of the season.
Teams P W D L F A Pts Anderlecht 10 5 3 2 24 15 18 Club Brugge 10 5 2 3 11 5 17 Charleroi 10 4 2 4 11 12 14 Gent 10 3 4 3 13 10 13 Oostende 10 2 4 4 9 14 10 Zulte Waregem 10 1 5 4 10 20 8
That’s the head to head table. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how the top 2 finish and in that order, and then it’s a bun fight for the remaining positions, including the Europa League! I’m sure there’ll be plenty of twists and turns however before the end of the season, as there tends to be in Belgium!