Anderlecht could have become champions last weekend, but drew 1-all at arch rivals Club Brugge, when a win was needed. A second chance came yesterday, in Charleroi. The home team, dubbed the Zebras, have built a reputation as a strong defending block.
When Chris Bedia put Charleroi ahead, it looked as if Anderlecht might have to postpone the party again, but their Polish top scorer Lukasz Teodorczyk (dubbed Teo) found back his best form just in time to score twice, turning the tables around (picture below). Massimo Bruno added a third one in the dying minutes: 1-3.
It started with a clean-up last summer
Anderlecht started from scratch this season with newly-arrived coach René Weiler. He sent a couple of 'hard-to-handle' players packing to arrange a 'clean-up' and it worked: the group became closer and the team spirit grew.
Goalkeeper Frank Boeckx said "solidarity" was the key word this season. Anderlecht didn't play splendid football, but were saved by 'Teo' in the early season. The striker helped Anderlecht to various wins in matches they could have lost or been held to a draw.
The Belgian youngsters Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker reigned in midfield. Tielemans is poised to move to AS Monaco this summer. Anderlecht played a kind of football which is atypical for the club: leaning back, defending well, and sinking the opponent on counter-attacks.
Critics say Anderlecht grabbed the title with 'poor' football, because this is not the style of the house. They want Anderlecht to play dominant and attacking ('sparkling') football, instead of leaving the ball to the opponent, as happened in Bruges last weekend.
The clash of the former champions
In other action, Club Brugge were beaten 2-1 by neighbours KV Oostende. AA Gent whipped Zulte Waregem 5-2 (photo below), to reduce the gap with second-placed Bruges to just one point.
This means that the direct clash between the two, Club Brugge-AA Gent on the last day of play next Sunday, will decide on second place and a ticket for the Champions League qualifying round. AA Gent need a win to leapfrog Bruges, but are guaranteed third place and a Europa League qualifying ticket anyway. Club Brugge took the title last season, AA Gent two years ago.
KV Oostende are certain of fourth place. They will have to fight it out with the winner of the Play-off 2 final (KRC Genk or Sint-Truiden) for the last European ticket.
Charleroi are fifth, just two points ahead of Zulte Waregem.