It probably won’t be, but after 3 match days there have been surprises within this group. It’s the only group where the competition is fierce with that top spot and the title of this post is what it is because…well, I felt that managers would consider looking at their squads and weigh up new deals for players, where to strengthen, amongst other things.
But this is proving to be bigger. Ask Aleksandar Jankovic. That may sound unfair but his sacking may have looked inevitable to the fans and when you read further into it, it may be looked upon as ‘it had to be done’. Teams want that Europa League spot next season and when I mentioned managers are looking at their squads, boards are clearly looking at the management of their clubs. Without European football you miss out on transfers and money. Current players want progression and success.
But I digress. I’ll begin with the 2 pieces of bread around the Standard Liege meat in this sandwich. Lierse (4th) vs Waasland Beveren (6th) with Liege tucked in between. Since the first match day, Lierse haven’t picked up a point and it did look unfair in one of those defeats. The club have nothing to fear and have played well thus far. However, their opponents have been hopeless. Averaging 3 goals conceded per match, nothing seems upbeat at the Freethiel. A good fight last time out against Mechelen was still thwarted and maybe Cedomir Janevski will be looking at the sack? Maybe I sound drastic, but football is weird like that. Without a win since late February and even before the play offs they were shipping a minimum of 3 goals per game average, changes may be needed?
Next up is not even the match of the group, in terms of glamour anyway, but certainly the match of the group regarding their position. Sint Truiden host Union Saint Gilloise. A fantastic match, surprisingly, which really could be any score. Both have shown real determination as well as quality and along with that, their players have been absolute quality. For STVV Pieter Gerkins has been outstanding, and with RUSG, going by his performances, Nicolas Rajsel may not be there much longer, especially in the second tier. It is hard to call what will happen with this match, but if they play to the potential they’ve shown already, this could be the match of the weekend in Belgium, which includes the next match I’m about to review and the champions elect versus the reigning champs in PO1!
Now, as I said, it’s Mechelen welcoming manageress and sometimes rudderless Standard Liege. This should be the first of their matches to decide who’ll play Genk and then who’ll play, at this rate, Club Brugge. Mechelen have come back from their 3-0 defeat on the first match day of the group and have shown why they were unlucky to finish 7th in the end. Standard however have shown nerves, not much quality and sometimes inaptitude conceding in the last minute in their last 2 matches, costing themselves four points in the process. Their former 2 however showed why they are quality away at RUSG last weekend, both getting on the scoresheet, but away at Mechelen it will be their toughest match for sure. With caretaker manager José Jeunechamps taking the team there may be new ideas and they may feel wounded so a fight may be on the cards Saturday night!
No matter what happens there will be dropped points regardless, it’s all a case of who’ll be the ones taking advantage come 10 o’clock Saturday night!