In build to tonight Anderlecht literally have nothing to lose. Zero points, no goals scored and 6 conceded. They’ve been so bad even Celtic beat them, which is no offense to Celtic,but it’s mainly because they can be awful outside of Glasgow. But besides that, in terms of glamour groups, you’d put Group B up there by stature of clubs. When the draw was made you’d be excited if you were an RSCA fan at the calibre of opposition, and in all honesty, praying for 3rd place.
However, the poor form in the league followed them abroad and have looked hapless. No Belgian side has won in any European match this season, qualifying or group stage. So Anderlecht aren’t the only disappointment. Hein Vanhaezebrouck has been part of that though with the poor showing with Gent against Altach.
But with a clean slate with Les Mauves, no fingers will be pointed at him in the Champions League this season. With Paris Saint Germain up next, a star studded team who have embarrassed Anderlecht before at the Constant Vanden Stock with Zlatan and company, now come with Neymar and friends (and Cavani) and tough is an understatement. But sitting here in anticipation, Vanhaezabrouck actually has an impressive record in the Champions League group stage, getting out of a group where you’d think Gent had no chance.
Finishing second behind Zenit St Petersburg, and above Lyon and Valencia, De Buffalos really outshone themselves massively, falling at the next hurdle against a Wolfsburg side containing another familiar face tonight in Julian Draxler. Obviously now all three of those are quality Europa League teams now, but then they were decent, and above all else, it was Gent and Vanhaezebrouck’s first season in the competition. It does make you think he may know what his doing on the grandest of stages with ‘minnows’.
Unfortunately for him, he has a points, goal difference and games deficit before tonight which isn’t helpful and chances of being in Europe after Christmas looks more…impossible, rather than unlikely. Another unfortunate thing is that you can’t see a gluttony of quick fire goals tonight like last Friday, but you could envision 3 conceded again. As I’ve said, with nothing to lose could Anderlecht look to attack at home, or do they battle for a point, not knowing how important that could be when they travel to Scotland on match day 6?
People in England after the last round of matches have honestly said Celtic could finish above Bayern Munich. Obviously that is feasible, but Jupp Heynckes isn’t a fool, especially in this competition. Meaning if Anderlecht gain draws before they play Celtic, and somehow win away, they could do what I feel is the impossible and go through to the Europa League.
All said and done this is a tough task, starting with tonight, but even I have renewed optimism with HVB in charge and with a fresh, positive outlook, a hope for tonight is a tight defensive, clinical finishing and complacency from PSG.
All pictures courtesy of Getty images