Sint-Truiden v Charleroi
The Zebras make the tricky move to the artificial pitch of Sint-Truiden. Last match day, the hard-fought Walloon derby against Standard was lost 0-1 and that game featured three red cards, including one for Zorgane. So the Zebras will be without him in Sint-Truiden. They will certainly miss this technical player on synthetic turf. It will be difficult for Charleroi to really dominate. Charleroi could only score 3 goals in one game twice this season, not coincidentally against Zulte-Waregem and Eupen, last and third last in the standings respectively. Charleroi’s midfield has versatility, but up front they lack a real goal scorer. Coach Edward Still retains confidence in Badji, but the Club Brugge loanee has not really been convincing yet this season.
Sint-Truiden are physically very disciplined and also have good substitute options for a mid-table side, but they also have difficulty scoring goals. They have only managed 8 goals in 11 games, including 3 goals against bottom-placed Zulte-Waregem. It is also not by chance that it is often the substitutes who make the difference, because coach Hollerback demands a lot of defensive discipline from his starting eleven. That often comes at the expense of creativity. Up front, the canaries also seem very dependent on the speedy Gianni Bruno.
Two rather defensive-minded teams up against each other. We do not expect a high-class match, with rather few chances. Last season it was a sparse 0-1 victory for Charleroi. In Charleroi, it was 0-0 last year. Reasons enough to play under 2.5 goals.
OHL v Genk
Genk are without a doubt the inform team in the league at the moment. Genk lost in the opening game at Club Brugge, but afterwards picked up 28 out of 30.
OHL have only lost to the leaders so far. Leaders Antwerp (4-2), Club Brugge (second, 0-3) and Union (fourth, 0-3) proved too strong. In those games, OHL went full on its chances, but were punished each time. Coach Brys, currently the longest-serving coach in the Pro League, has no intention of changing his approach. OHL plays attacking soccer, against any type of opponent. That is what makes them an attractive club. It is therefore expected that OHL will try to make the game at home against Genk. Last week sensation Mario Gomez scored a hat-trick, he will also give the Genk defence a difficult day.
The gap to leaders Antwerp is still two points, but in recent months KRC Genk also raced through the Belgian league like a crushing roller. However, Wouter Vrancken rarely had all his pawns at his disposal, as Luca Oyen and Mujaid Sadick have been out of action for a while. That will not change for the time being, as the duo is still missing from training. Presumably Vrancken will not have to count on them before the winter break. There was better news, however, regarding Joseph Paintsil, with four goals and two assists in eight appearances one of the stars of the league. In recent weeks, he had unfortunately been sidelined with a hamstring injury. He will be available again on Saturday. In addition, Paul Onuachu, Golden Boot of 2021, has regained his confidence after his two important goals in the win against Kortrijk last weekend (2-1).
Because of their well-organized defense, their place in the standings and OHL’s lesser results against top teams, Genk is the favourite. However, OHL scores easily so it will certainly be interesting to play on goals.
KAA Gent v KV Mechelen
AA Gent hosts KV Mechelen at the Ghelamco Arena on Sunday. AA Gent’s league start has been difficult. The sparkling soccer of late last season is still missing, but last week they won convincingly again with 0-4 at Eupen.
The absolute star was the South Korean Hong. He scored two goals, including a clever solo. With him, AA Gent finally seems to have found a worthy replacement for the unfortunate Tissoudali. The Moroccan dropped out on matchday 1 and is out for several more months with an ACL injury. In the forward position, Cuypers and Depoitre have also been successful in recent weeks. So plenty of guys who can be dangerous in the box. On the other hand, the loss of Castro-Montes is another drain. You have to wonder what solution Vanhaezebroeck will come up with to replace his winger. A win against Mechelen would be welcome, as they lost to Djugarden 4-2 in the Conference League on Thursday, after some giveaways at the back.
Mechelen will be looking for their second away win of the season. For now, they have only taken 4 points away from home. That’s a bit classic for Mechelen, who can always do a bit more at home. A lot may have to do with coach Danny Buijs’ approach. He always assumes own strength, and dares to attack against qualitatively better opponents. That sometimes leads to many goals against. Nikola Storm, Rob Schoofs and Geoffrey Hairemans are key players. They are involved in most of the goals. Striker Ngoy enjoys the confidence of the coach, and gets better every match. Last week Anderlecht came to win, although Mechelen could easily have been 3-0 ahead at halftime. So they will have to be more efficient with the chances.
We expect both teams to be evenly matched, they score easily but are not always accurate at the back. They are both good at creating chances and both gain little from a draw. Moreover, the offensive players of both teams are in form. So there is quality in betting on Both Teams to Score.
Club Brugge v Anderlecht
Sunday, archrivals Club Brugge and Anderlecht look each other in the eye. It promises to be another loaded duel.
Anderlecht and Club Brugge have already had a remarkable season. Anderlecht started the league promisingly under new trainer Mazzu. He brought along the winning mood from his former club Union, and in his familiar 3-5-2 formation, ensured 9 points from the first four games as well as the first European qualification in five years. However, after that the team fell into the same negative spiral of the past seasons. No solid teamwork, uninspiring soccer and a coach hopelessly looking for chemistry and automaticity. Something that is difficult with a lot of hired players. Young players like Stroeykens and Duranville still need time to develop. Although they have a bright future ahead of them, it is still too early for them to carry this team every week. For now, Anderlecht is last in their Conference League group and in the Pro League they have dropped to the 9th place. To avert another crisis, Mazzu will have to get his team back on track quickly. He is expected to keep trying bringing in young players, something that will earn him more credit with the fans. Although points will also have to be taken with that.
Club Brugge are in super form just now. Their loss last week at home against Westerlo (0-2) was a lack of focus and sharpness. After all, this match was between the double clash with Atlético Madrid. Last Tuesday, Blue-Black secured qualification for the last 16 by holding Atlético to 0-0 in the buzzing Wanda Metropolitano. A historic 10 out of 12 in the Champions League, and moreover, not a single goal conceded yet. Now that European qualification is in the bag, more focus may return to the league. That will not be a problem in the classic against Anderlecht. There will be no lack of belief.
We expect Brugge to start with almost the same starting eleven as against Atlético. The players might still be tired, but Anderlecht has also had a European trip. In addition, Duranville and Trebel are still missing. At Bruges, almost the entire squad is fit, which gives Hoekens plenty of options. Few Club Brugge bench players would not start at Anderlecht, that’s how big the difference in quality is at the moment.
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