Beerschot v Charleroi
Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO
Friday night sees 7th-placed Charleroi visit rock-bottom Beerschot, who after springing a few shocks through the season now really do look doomed, being 7 points away from 17th-placed Seraing, and the chance to save their Pro League status via the relegation play-off. Charleroi for the most part look secure in their position in the play-offs, five points clear of Cercle Brugge, with neither Brugge nor any of the other teams below them able to put together a consistent run of form and challenge.
Beerschot are, impressively, unbeaten in their last three home games, however they have all been against sides in the lower reaches of the table, and they have still conceded 5 goals in these three games, without keeping a clean sheet. They have played 9 games against the top-7, drawing 1 and losing the remaining 8. They have played four of these games at home, losing all of them without scoring and conceding 12.
Despite their good home form in recent weeks, they still have the third-worst home record of any Pro League side, and Charleroi should be able to win this game comfortably against a side that concedes just under 2 goals per game.
Fresh from two defeats against the top two sides in the league, the Zebras will be keen to get three points on the board. Having played 9 games against sides in the bottom-6, Charleroi have won 8 and drawn once, scoring at least twice in all but 1 of these matches.
They are better away than they are at the Stade du Pays, and having only failed to score in three away games all season (all of which were against the current top-3), they look a good bet for goals away to the worst side in Belgium’s top flight, having put five past Beerschot in the return fixture
Prediction: Charleroi to Score Over 1.5 Goals, 1.8 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Union St Gilloise v Eupen
Saturday 26th February – 3:15PM KO
On first glance, Union’s form may look to have slowed down somewhat, with only 3 wins in their last 5, however this patch featured games against the sides in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th, so to take 10 points is very impressive. They may have suffered a shock loss to mid-table Sint-Truiden, but that 1-0 scoreline was not reflective of the game as a whole, and these things happen even to the best sides.
Eupen are fortunate to have two sides as poor as Beerschot and Seraing in the Pro League, with their form being absolutely dire since mid-October, dropping from the play-off positions to 15th position, and just four points above the relegation play-off. They will not be relishing the prospect of a visit to champions-elect Union, although there is a possibility that they will go for it, thinking of the game as essentially a free hit, with no expectations on them.
Union will be without 20-goal Pro League top scorer Deniz Undav, however, he has scored in just 3 of their last 13, and Eupen have a very obliging defence, so they will not be especially worried about missing him for this one. They have won all 8 of their games against the bottom-6, with over 2.5 goals landing in 7 of those 8. They have scored at least twice in all 8 games, 29 goals scored by Union alone, at a rate of just under 4 per game.
Eupen meanwhile have conceded in all 7 of their 7 matches against the top-4, but they have also been able to find the net in all but one, with over 2.5 goals landing in 5 of these 7 games. They have seen over 2.5 goals land in 64% of their away games, the third-highest amount in the league. They have kept only two away clean sheets all season, and average 1.36 goals scored per away game, so they could certainly contribute a goal to the three we need here.
Union should certainly win this game, and they are heavy favourites. They could well get three or more all on their own, but should they struggle slightly, and are only able to score twice, Eupen are capable of nicking a goal and getting us to the magic number in a 2-1 win.
Prediction: Union St Gilloise to Win & Over 2.5 Goals, 1.83 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
KV Mechelen v Cercle Brugge
Saturday 26th February – 5:30PM KO
Sixth-placed Mechelen have managed to put together a good run of form lately, winning 4 of their last 5 games, and also winning 4 of their last 5 at home. No Pro League side has a better home record than Mechelen, with 9 wins and 2 draws from 14 games bettering even league leaders Union’s record. They have also beaten all of the teams above them at home, apart from Anderlecht who ran out winners in a tight 1-0 just after the resumption of Belgian football after the winter break.
Their last eight home games have seen six wins and one draw, with the draw and loss coming against fourth-placed Anderlecht and eighth-placed Genk, neither of which are bad results. They beat third-placed Antwerp 2-1 last time out away from home, and they will return to Mechelen full of confidence. They average over 2 goals per game at home, and have only failed to score in front of their own fans twice all season.
Cercle Brugge have seen only 1 win in 5 games against top-8 sides, a fortunate 2-0 win against Anderlecht who were down to 10-men from the 30th minute. Their excellent winter form has petered out, with just 1 win in their last 4 games, against rock-bottom Beerschot, the losses coming against Leuven (12th) and Oostende (13th), and also drawing against Standard Liege (14th).
They have not been awful, but the new manager bounce seems to have fallen away, and teams will no longer be so concerned by the prospect of facing Cercle. Dominik Thalhammer’s side were not lucky to be on their winning run, with their wins being thoroughly deserved, but the same is true now, they have not been unlucky in recent weeks, and can have no complaints in taking 4 points from 12 available.
Mechelen are certainly favourites for this one, and I do expect them to take the three points, however, Cercle, despite dropping off in recent weeks have shown what they are capable of, and so I am playing it a little more safe here and plumping for Draw No Bet instead of Mechelen to win outright, although if you feel more confident than I do, feel free to go for Mechelen to win outright instead, which I would rank as a four-star selection.
Prediction: Mechelen Draw No Bet, 1.73 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
OH Leuven v Anderlecht
Saturday 26th February – 7:45PM KO
Our final game of Saturday afternoon in Belgium’s Pro League sees fourth-placed Anderlecht visiting OH Leuven, the highest-scoring side in the bottom-half of the table. Leuven’s four-game unbeaten run was ended last week by Sint-Truiden, winning 2-0 in a game that was closer than the scoreline suggested. Leuven’s good run was aided by a generous fixture list, but they have been playing well in recent weeks, and they are always capable of scoring, even if they are unlikely to win.
Leuven have seen BTTS land in 77% of their home games, even those against the top-4, where their 5 games this season, home and away, have seen BTTS land in all 5. They have scored and conceded roughly the same amount of goals in home games, 1.5 per 90. They have scored at home in all but 2 games, and conceded in all but 2 also. Having won all 3 of their last 3 home matches, they will feel confident heading into this game.
Anderlecht meanwhile have seen BTTS land in half of their away games, remarkably high for a team that tends to dominate against most other sides in the Pro League, showing just how poor their defence is compared to their attacking threat. This is most common in games featuring the sides between the play-off spots and the relegation positions, (like Leuven), in which BTTS has landed in 5 of their 6 away games. The clean sheets have nearly all come in games against the bottom two and top four.
On average Anderlecht score two goals per game and concede one goal per game on the road, securing just four clean sheets away from home, and failing to score in just three games out of 14. They are in good form, and will expect to beat Leuven, but despite securing 10 points from 15 in their last 5 away from home, they only kept two clean sheets in these 5, and one of these was a 7-0 defeat of bottom side Beerschot.
Historically this fixture has been good for goals, with 3 of their previous 4 Pro League games seeing BTTS land, and the reverse fixture earlier this season finishing 2-2, there is little reason to think that this won’t continue with plenty of goals again today.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score – Yes, 1.57 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
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