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JPL Round 3 Preview: Let the big games begin

Racing Genk – Lokeren

KV Mechelen – KV Kortrijk
Lierse – Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz
Waasland-Beveren – Westerlo
Cercle Brugge – KV Oostende

Standard Liège – KAA Gent
Anderlecht – Charleroi
Zulte Waregem – Club Brugge

Racing Genk – Lokeren

Pierre Denier will take charge of this game for the home side but all the signs are that Frank Vercauteren will return for a second spell in charge. The major team news is that Jelle Vossen returns to the fold after scoring in a friendly last Monday and he will provide a quality attacking option for a team who could not beat 10-man Cercle at home. Lokeren have added two new signings this week in Ngolok and Abdurahimi, neither of whom will play but the main worry for Peter Maes, who was heavily linked with the Genk job, is the fitness of last week’s hero Junior Dutra, who is struggling with a knee problem.

Prediction: 1-1

KV Mechelen v KV Kortrijk

Kortrijk must have thought they had a chance of three points at home last time out when they saw the Standard teamsheet but it wasn’t to be as they succumbed to a late Mujangi Bia penalty. It won’t be an easy task for new boss Yves Vanderhaeghe to get De Kerels’ season up and running with no De Smet, Capon or Matton this weekend while Ivan Santini looks bereft of confidence. Mechelen suffered a second-half setback in Gent last week and went down 3-1 with the absence of Sheldon Bateau leaving a sizeable hole in the defence. However, the likes of Cissé, Claes, Hanni and even Obradovic from leftback can cause real problems.

Prediction: 2-0

Lierse – Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz

Despite last week’s defeat away to Club, it has been an encouraging start to the season for Stanley Menzo’s men who will nonetheless feel they missed an opportunity against the title contenders. Both fullbacks look solid and the side are able to create opportunities to score. What’s more, they shouldn’t lack self-belief at home to RMP. As for the visitors, they got their first win on the board last week with a bright performance in which Badri, Diaby and Langil all impressed going forward. Rachid Chihab has moulded a good unit so far and he still has young goalkeeper Sven Dhoest to reach full fitness.

Prediction: 2-1

Waasland-Beveren – Westerlo

The home side have reacted to their second successive defeat by going into the transfer market and signing David Addy and David Destorme. Fearing finding his side stuck in the PO3 spots throughout the season, Ronny van Geneugden intends to herald a more positive approach tomorrow night and the back three may be ditched. Westerlo have joined the big three in winning their first two games but will have to make do without the sadly injury prone Evander Sno while Maxime Annys is also a major doubt. In their favour they have an on-form Mohamad Aoulad who produced a superb individual display in Charleroi last time out.

Prediction: 1-1

Cercle Brugge – KV Oostende

Despite what appeared to be a fiendishly difficult start on paper for Groen-Zwart, Lorenzo Staelens has guided the team to two draws. Stipe Bacelic-Grgic scored his first Pro League goal last week and looks to be an excellent find with his awareness and ability to time his runs into the danger area. KVO were the equal of Anderlecht for long periods last Friday but failed to strike while the iron was hot and learned a harsh lesson in front of a big crowd on the coast. Look out for John Jairo Ruiz who will likely operate from the left and cut infield to support the imposing Couliably.

Prediction: 0-0

Standard Liège – KAA Gent

The most attractive game of the round sees Les Rouches take on De Buffalo’s. Standard have quite a few injury problems, which have been added to following their European heroics in Athens in midweek. Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Mehdi Carcela are both out as is Julien De Sart. However, they have signed attacking midfielder Jeff Louis from Nancy and young leftback Darwin Andrade. The big question for Gent boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck is whether to stick with the back three or go with the 4-3-3 that served them so well in the second half comeback at home to Mechelen. Laurent Depoître was hugely impressive as a link man and target man up top in combination with Benito Raman and with Standard’s problems out wide, could look to target Ronnie Stam with Soumahoro. However, Guy Luzon’s preference for two strikers lends itself to a back three and Soumahoro picked up a knock in training.

Prediction: 2-2 but wouldn’t rule out Gent, which I know will come back to haunt me this Sunday!

Anderlecht – Charleroi

Herman van Holsbeeck must be enjoying his summer. He hasn’t had to conduct any ingoing transfer business yet and has seen the team managed by Besnik Hasi pick up two wins playing in second gear. Matias Suárez has been easing his way back to full fitness and looks ready to reproduce his Gouden Schoen/Soulier d’Or form while Silvio Proto made his comeback during the week. A rightback and central midfielder are still needed but the club know they can see off the likes of les Carolos without shelling any money out. Felice Mazzu was tearing his hair out last week after seeing les Zèbres throw away a two-goal lead at home and worryingly, his side have been mentally fragile in both league games this season, which does not bode well.

Prediction: 3-0

Zulte Waregem – Club Brugge

Francky Dury has admitted it will take some time to get this new-look Essevee up-to-speed but they came away with some credit in midweek after a 2-2 draw in Soligorsk. Defensive newcomers Sefa Isçi and Tiago “David Luiz” Ferreira embody Dury’s comments and Cissako and Colpaert cannot come back soon enough. Glynor Plet is back from suspension and both he and Sylla have found their shooting boots. Michel Preud’homme will be quietly confident after Club’s start to the season, both domestically with two wins and in Europe, as they beat Brøndby home and away. Fernando Menegazzo has proved to be a good acquisition in midfield, a position where Anderlecht and Standard are crying out for top quality. The defence is solid though all goals have so far come from set plays so Preud’homme will want to see more in open play.

Prediction: 1-2




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