With one week and two matchdays left for each team, the title could’ve been decided yesterday. The top 2 in Belgium played in Bruges, where Club Brugge hosted Anderlecht in the crunchiest of matches. This isn’t how I usually start any of my mini, tiniest of match reports I write for each match for certain reasons, but in a way, the title was decided today.
Sofiane Hanni set the ball rolling and I put myself in an Anderlecht fans position for a moment, thinking the big man. The man who is just outstanding and calm may have just won the 34th title for Anderlecht in the first half. As blunt as it sounds, my Player Profile Ruud Vormer postponed the party for at least a couple of days and it ended 1-1.
Anderlecht may have to wait til Thursday, but I feel it’s inevitable they’ll win it sooner rather than later! However, Charleroi on Thursday are the only side to beat Anderlecht in the play offs this season and could spoil the party, AND create a huge amount of tension next Sunday. Speaking of Charleroi, they took a fantastic point back home from the Ghelamco Arena, although it could’ve been more. Les Zèbres had to do it the hard way with a 24th minute red card for Tainmont. But Charleroi took the lead!
Enes Saglik netted 4 minutes after they went down to 10 men. But due to their lack of discipline, a penalty from Yuya Kubo took booth teams in at the break at 1-1, the same score the game ended with. A very late red card for Gent as well for Louis Verstraete proved Gent haven’t been at it recently and have slightly slipped, but look likely to be in the Europa League next season.
Fifth vs Sixth took place on Saturday where Zulte Waregem again beat Oostende as they did in the Croky Cup. Kaya, Hamalainen and Mbaye Leye scored 3 first half goals for the hosts with a Marusic equaliser sandwiched in between settled the match Saturday night. I’ve said for a while SVZW have written off these play offs really, whereas Oostende could still play a Europa League play off themselves if they get positive results in their final 2 matches of the season.
Play Off 1 for me was only competitive because Anderlecht became complacent, even for a week, which let Brugge back in. The title never looked out of their grasp, and I may still eat my words, but a positive for !e is that I said how the top 6 should end up 7 weeks ago, and other than Gent and Charleroi needing to switch, I’ve been spot on and I have the blog post and the picture to prove it!
Play Off 2B up next, mainly because this has been as anticlimactic as the Championship play off group. Everyone around Genk has been entertaining in that they’ve let defenders have the season off and just let strikers run riot! Two 3-2 scorelines on Saturday night showed that, with Eupen and Lokeren overcoming Kortrijk and Roeselare respectively. Henry Onyekuru again showed why the likelihood of him playing away from Belgium look even more inevitable, again, by the week, netting a brace in their win.
Lokeren saw 3 familiar faces to the scoresheet too this weekend, with Hupperts, Maric and De Ridder settle an away win for the top flight side over their second tier counterparts, and to be fair, Rùnar Kristinsson has put a good string of results together to end their season, even though there are 2 more matches to play. Genk’s European aims have never been in doubt, and again won 2-0 away at Mouscron last night proved that, but nobody fancied turning up week in week out. Even Eupen, who I truly believed would come closest to them, showed their youth and naivety. As much as they’ve entertained with 33 goals scored and conceded in their 8 matches showed how they can’t just seal a 1-0 win with teams on a similar level to them.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, is the group where finally, and I mean finally, a team may just have put their heads above the parapet in Sint Truiden. Technically, every team bar Standard Liege can still qualify for the Europa League play off, but I’m still unconvinced by Truiden, even though they’re oozing with confidence, dismantling USG 4-1 away, showing the Unionistes peaked too early in this stage. Standard dented Mechelen’s hopes however with a 2-0 win at home, and it was a well deserved 2-0 win too at home. And Lierse played out a spirited performance away at Beveren, where anyone could’ve taken the points, although putting money on a Beveren double and 3-2 scoreline over Lierse would’ve made you a fair bit of dough!
Genk and Anderlecht are top quality. They’ve proved that and are the cream who have risen to the top if you ask me. Of course, mathematically, the title isn’t sewn up, but for all intensive purposes it sort of is. Play Off group 2A has just been fantastic. Unlike 2B where people are jostling to be first loser, teams are jostling for what these play offs are all about if you ask me. Goals, red cards, tension, quality, lack of quality. That’s what the Pro League is about sometimes…