Sporting Charleroi v Genk
The first game in the Pro League this weekend is make or break for the hosts Charleroi. Having been slightly unlucky to lose in their first game against Mechelen, they failed to beat a weakened Gent side with nothing to play for and now find themselves five points behind today’s visitors Genk.
Charleroi have been woeful all season long against the sides they finished amongst in the table, having lost 11 of their 16 ties against fellow top-8 sides thus far. The limp display last week in which they were unable to take advantage of an unmotivated and weakened Gent side demonstrates just how far off the pace they are when it comes to the best sides in the division. They qualified for the play-offs through being flat-track bullies and as expected this has not left them in a good position when the weaker sides were removed from the equation.
The hosts last beat a side that finished 8th or above in the Pro League on October 17th last year. Despite the crucial nature of this game, where a loss would all but eliminate them from contention, they have failed to rise to the occasion against the league’s best sides so many times this season that it would be an enormous surprise if they suddenly turned it on here.
They have just one goal in the play-offs this season, which came from the penalty spot. Their struggles for goals have been a familiar theme already in 2021-22, not least in front of their home fans, who have endured 7 games in which their side could not find the back of the net. Only relegated Beerschot and Seraing, who survived a relegation play-off by the skin of their teeth, have failed to score more often at home.
Genk meanwhile have made a fantastic start to their post-season campaign, winning both games so far, and looking in prime position to play for the opportunity to feature in next season’s Europa Conference League. Having dispatched Gent in the first week away from home, a flurry of late goals saw them run out deserved 4-2 winners against Mechelen to take charge of the Conference League play-offs.
The visitors have now won four in a row, scoring 12 goals and conceding only 2. They are now fourth in the league’s goalscoring charts, scoring 71 goals in 36 games, just two goals behind Anderlecht and Club Brugge (73 each). They are averaging a shade under 2xG per game in the play-offs thus far, and their momentum looks to be standing them in good stead ahead of this visit to floundering Charleroi.
All in all, an away win seems more likely than not. Genk can be slightly inconsistent, but are in good form and facing a side that only turns up against sides significantly worse for them. They fold when tested and if Genk can apply any significant pressure they should be able to convert that into 3 points.
Gent v Mechelen
The second fixture in the Play-Offs II comes exactly 24 hours later in Ghent. Gent have of course already qualified for the Europa League, so they stand to gain nothing by winning this group, and they have demonstrated this by picking rotated teams for the first two games. They were by a distance the best side in this play-off group however, so their second-string is more than capable of turning in a performance, as they showed last week in beating Charleroi 3-1.
Mechelen now find themselves 3 points behind Genk having lost to them last weekend in a dramatic final ten minutes that saw 4 goals. Genk on balance did deserve the win, but Mechelen pushed them all the way, and the fight for the chance to play in next season’s Conference League looks to be between these two sides.
Mechelen may struggle in away games more than any other side in the league, sitting second in the home league table for the season, but 13th in the away table. Despite this, they do still regularly find the back of the net on the road, they are simply unable to keep the opposition out. They have failed to win any of their last 4 away games, but they have scored in 3 of those 4.
Gent did keep a tight ship during the regular seasons, but rotating a settled defence always causes issues, and their failure to keep any clean sheets in their opening two games showcases this. Whilst they have nothing to play for they do still possess some key attacking threats, and their strongest team would almost certainly cruise to winning this group if they needed to do so for the chance at European football.
Mechelen desperately need the points and will be looking for goals at any opportunity. They have conceded 2.28 goals per game away from home this season, including 6 in their last 2 away fixtures. If this poor defensive record continues they will be forced to come out and attack to stand any chance of taking the three points.
Overall then, goals seem likely in this one. Gent have nothing to lose at all, whilst Mechelen have nothing to gain by playing for a draw. They need 3 points to stay in the hunt, even more so if Genk begin the weekend with a win at Charleroi, which would leave Mechelen 6 points back with 9 to play for. The result should hopefully be an open and entertaining tie with plenty of chances for both sides, and I expect both to convert at least one of these.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Back the Four and Five Star Selections as a Double on Betfair ⬇️
*Bet link only appears when accessing from mobile.
Haven’t got a Betfair account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Betfair and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £20 on the 2/1 Belgian Pro League Best Bets Double. Here are the two possible outcomes:
Or you get your £20 stake back as cash