Jupiler Pro League Round 28 Saturday Preview: A relegation six-pointer and a Waasland derby

KAA Gent – Cercle Brugge

It has been a busy but unsuccessful week for Belgium’s bottom club Cercle, who lost 0-1 at home to Standard and then 2-1 in Charleroi in midweek despite going ahead through Gregory Mertens.  Experienced duo Hans Cornelis and Tim Smolders are missing for Foeke Booy’s men, who in truth have looked doomed to taking their chances in PO3 even before school started again last autumn. Groen-Zwart have not won since the middle of November and are on a run of five straight defeats. Gent got a big win last time out in Mons but while De Buffalo’s are mathematically safe, Victor Fernandez knows his men cannot rest on their laurels as they strive to salvage a terrible campaign by bringing Europa League football to their new stadium. The experienced Spaniard will have to make do without key quartet Brüls, Padt, Lepoint and Thijs this weekend but Ilombé Mboyo is getting better by the week and the Belgium international was good for a wonder goal against Scifo’s men.

Edit: FT 2-0, Soumahoro and Mboyo. Hope you followed my tip!!

Prediction: 2-0
Betting tip: KAA Gent -1 goal 6/4

Beerschot – Lierse

That this game brings together two of the most out of form sides in the division makes it no less appealing – indeed it adds a great deal of intrigue.  Beerschot have no win in their last twelve league outings ; Lierse have none in their last eleven. It makes you wonder what would happen when the two sides meet – Beerschot won the return game 3-1 and a repeat scoreline would surely see De Ratten guarantee Pro League football for another season. Jacky Mathijssen welcomes De Decker and Funso Ojo back while Joachim Mununga is out and Marvin Ogunjimi is a major doubt. Stijn Stijnen is the least disciplined player in the league and the goalkeeper was sent off last week for handling outside the box. He has appealed his ban but though he is in the squad, he is arguably a liability one can ill afford in these kinds of situations. Ayew and Farag are out for Lierse, who can still count on Hany Ramzy as their head coach for the time being but you would have to hope for their sake the Egyptian doesn’t repeat the mistake he made last week v Mechelen of putting leading scorer Hazurov on the bench. He also has club great Eric van Meir helping him out but it may be a case of (far) too many cooks spoil the broth. I find this almost impossible to call but since I said Beerschot would get out of it I’ll stick with them, especially after getting a draw in Leuven last week despite going down to ten men.

Prediction: 1-0
Betting tip: Under 2.5 goals 7/10

The ever-controversial Beerschot goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The ever-controversial Beerschot goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Kortrijk – Mons

De Kerels continued their long trend of failing to score away from home as they lost 2-0 in Genk last week but they’re a different kettle of fish at home, with seven wins and only three defeats from thirteen matches at the Guldensporenstadion. PO1 is out of reach for Hein Vanhaezebrouck, who is without Reynaud while key duo Chavarria and Mitrovic are doubts. Mons have their own fair share of absentees including long-term casualty Tim Matthys, Cédric Berthelin and Aloys Nong and amidst the good news of Enzo Scifo’s new deal, the defeat to Gent was a disappointment. Both these sides may have little on the face of it to play for but we have seen before the perils of going through the motions towards the end of the campaign.

Prediction: 1-1
Betting tip: Under 2.5 goals: 10/11

KV Mechelen – OH Leuven

Mechelen are one of the form sides at the moment with just one defeat in five since the resumption after the winter break. Added to this, they are an attacking side who are good to watch. Although there are  few old heads such as David Destorme, who leads the club with nine assists and Mads Junker, most of this side have their best years ahead of them. Mats Rits and Cordaro will be looking to shoulder the creative burden with Iddi out injured – the wide player joins Nicklas Pedersen on the sidelines. OHL meanwhile must be kicking themselves after throwing two points away last week. Leading 1-0 against ten man Beerschot, they succumbed to a draw following Benito Raman’s first goal at first-team level. Karuru, Karel Geraerts and Logan Bailly are all doubts though the latter should pull through while Kenny Thompson is unsurprisingly suspended. This game brings back bad memories for OHL centreback Wim Raymaekers, who is still out with a knee injury he sustained in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Though KVM have kept two successive clean sheets, OHL have scored in all but one of their last six away games.

Prediction: 2-1
Betting tip: KV Mechelen to win and over 2.5 goals 13/10

Former Beveren goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Former Beveren goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff (centre) (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Waasland-Beveren – Lokeren

Lokeren owner Rogier Lambrecht once bemoaned that the Waasland area of Belgium will never be home to a genuine top club but the people of Beveren will be just happy to be able to welcome Sporting for a local derby for the first time since 2007.  A famous old rivalry, which perhaps found its peak from the mid 70s until the mid 80s, is rekindled tonight. And while it may lack the lustre of those encounters featuring the likes of Jean-Marie Pfaff and Preben Larsen, it promises to be an intoxicating atmosphere this evening.  Fast-forward to the present day and W-B may just about be safe but they will be looking to stop the rot of three defeats on the bounce. Wesley Sonck is out but he has hardly pulled up any trees this season in contrast to the Israeli forward Barak Badash. Lokeren cannot welcome Copa back yet but Peter Maes is set to hand Walter his first start in the league after he has impressed since joining from Videoton – the out of form Nill De Pauw is set to make way. Sporting are in danger of grinding to a halt after three successive draws and big guns Standard and Racing Genk are starting to come into form at the right time.

Prediction: 1-2
Betting tip: Lokeren outright 6/5

Charleroi – Zulte Waregem

This game has been called off due to the snow.

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