“If the purely footballing level of this champions final round is increasingly poor, then the tension rises crescendo”

Back to May 17, 2011. In a direct mutual duel Genk and Standard had to decide who became champion. That was exciting. But what we get on Sunday from 6:30 p.m. will be even more exciting.

Ludo Vandewalle

Wonderful those Champions’ Play-offs with four. Even more fun that on the very last day three of the four participants can still become champions. If the purely footballing level of this champions final round is increasingly poor, then the tension rises crescendo.

Antwerp left it on Sunday and the question is to what extent the players recover from this. Trainer Mark van Bommel has faced hotter fires as a player. He will try to keep the peace. Nevertheless, he did something strange on Sunday when he replaced injured attacker Vincent Janssen with midfielder Mandela Keita against ten Union players. He denied that he wanted to defend the 1-0 instead of seeking the 2-0 with a numerical majority. The game plan, which is based on a solid organization, already resulted in 20 clean sheets this season, but this time it did not work.

With a view to Sunday’s game in Genk, Antwerp is already missing the player who provides creativity. Calving Stengs has to watch suspended. As indicated earlier, Antwerp has its best period behind it and it is increasingly raking. The gaps in the team are coming to the surface again. But, and that must be the ultimate motivation, the red and whites are still in control. Win in Genk and it’s champion. It’s that simple. But it was that simple on Sunday against Union. A weak Union, by the way. But it didn’t work. Time for patchwork.


Union has to compete against Club Brugge in the Dudenpark on Sunday. The people of Brussels were unprecedentedly weak on the Bosuil. They already missed Teddy Teuma and Victor Boniface, who was not completely fit in the end. Siebe Van der Heyden and Yorbe Vertessen were injured, Senne Lynen was suspended after his red card. We see Boniface getting fit, an ankle injury can be patched up. But the rest? There is even a threat of a shortage of Belgians, so that inexperienced juniors have to sit on the bench. It would be something: Union champion after not leading once this season.

Club Brugge is exhausted but not exhausted. Moreover, it was remarkable how an anti-Antwerp atmosphere prevailed in the Bruges stands. When Genk scored, the Bruges fans sang ‘Antwerp marginals’ en masse. There was not much disappointment among the blue-black fans. It is clear that they will not award Antwerp the title. We assume that Club will go full house on Sunday at Union, as it has been doing throughout the play-offs. But the poor finish and too many defensive mistakes result in a 3 out of 15. The outgoing national champion already recovers Noa Lang, who has returned from suspension.


KRC Genk also played a match that did not appeal to its trainer. But after an undeserved loss to Jan Breydel in the opening game of the season, this time it took three points after a very mediocre performance. The people of Genk continue to have problems controlling a match. They failed to keep the lines close together with a 0-1 lead, so that a defeat rather than a win was in the air. However, here too, things need to be improved.

The three title contenders drag themselves to the end of the season. Union has played 57 matches, Antwerp 52 and KRC Genk 43. In principle, the Limburgers should be the freshest, but do not give that impression.

© Isosport

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