Sobota derails Standard’s title bid as Anderlecht take control
After nearly a whole season of under performing it is seeming increasingly likely that Anderlecht are going to win the 2013/14 Belgian Pro League season and make it 33 total titles for Paarswit.
It comes after seemingly an eternity of bitter rivals Standard Liége leading the league as the Luzon locomotive monster pushed aside everybody in their path. Yet a bit further on and as Anderlecht look to finish the marathon with a sprint Standard have veered off course, started a new event entirely and are now intent on clattering into every single hurdle they can while their supporters watch on with growing frustration.
Indeed they started their latest match with Club Brugge in much the same way they did the season. Bombing forward from the outset with reckless abandon that would have even Liverpool fans squirming for some type of structure and restraint. They came on like greyhounds out of the traps, the screaming fans inside Sclessin their drunken punters. But it turns out this wasn’t racing, this was Le Mans 24 hours and after half an hour nearly everyone except Guy Luzon realised they were just going round and round in circles, and then round some more. Then once more for good measure.
The match with Club Brugge had an edge to it. Even from the onset there was a certain sense that Standard’s fans were going to give their all to the cause because while they could see everything unravelling in front of them, they had spent the time since the last match convincing themselves that they were still okay. That if they won this match they would almost have one hand on the trophy. But they were at their wits end. And the players knew it. A frustration was born from the players that their efforts weren’t being rewarded with goals and as late fouls and imprecise play began to seep in to the performance the crowd began to lose hope and turn. By the end of the match, Waldemar Sobota had seized an opportunity and scored a great goal for Club Brugge, giving them the win, Standard’s players were broken, their fans fractured and their title hopes were on the cliff edge.
All the while Matt Ryan must have been laughing to himself in the Club Brugge goal. The best goalkeeper in the league, certainly this season in my estimations, and while he had to watch red shirts bombard his goal time and again in the first half their crosses would be too close to him, their through balls too heavy and most disgracefully of all their shots were off target. When you play the best goalkeeper in the league you have to test him every single time, because as Standard found out later on, when you do get a clear cut one on one chance – the very best will prove why they are the best, and will come out on top.
And it seems Club Brugge’s time on the top may have been once again very brief. Anderlecht put a frankly embarrassing Genk side to the sword, hammering them 4-0 to take control of the league and with two games left to play put title number 33 in their own hands. Genk seem thoroughly content to be beyond lacklustre, then come out and tell us all how sorry they are, that it won’t happen again and they will definitely try harder next time, and when next time comes around they’ll just go back to day dreaming and being utterly abject. But they’ll apologise again and promise next time will be better.
Anderlecht will be in for one last tough test. They take on Zulte Waregem next week and with last years runners up yet to lose at home this season it will mean that if Anderlecht can overcome them then they can call themselves worthy champions. They have rode Standard’s coat tails all along, a bit like Edward Norton’s character in the 2003 attempted remake of The Italian Job, and they will be more than willing to take the plaudits should they succeed in seeing this challenge out to the end.
If they do, we will assume that when the usual timpani of voices crop up about the stupidity of the halving of the points at the end of the Pro League’s regular season that most Anderlecht fans will probably abstain this time having used the whole system to their advantage. Meanwhile you can probably guarantee Roland Duchâtelet will be talking himself purple somewhere as he points all of his fingers at different people as to why Standard have inexplicably handed a title over to their most hated opponents.