Jupiler Pro League Matchday 34 Permutations: Who Needs What?

The regular season is nearing its end in Jupiler Pro League. After 33 rounds of drama, just one weekend of play remains for more than half of the 18 clubs. With that in mind, there are still several places up for grabs, whether that be the regular season title, the last place in Playoffs 1, the final spot in Playoffs 2, or 15th place. Here are the scenarios for each one.

Regular season title: Genk (74 points), Union St. Gilloise (72)

This one may not seem as important, but the winner of the regular season is guaranteed a place in Europe the following season (Europa Conference League second qualifying round minimum). The only two teams who can still top the table after 34 rounds are Genk and Union St. Gilloise. The former will travel to Mambourg to take on Sporting Charleroi, while the latter battles KV Kortrijk away.

The situation is very simple here: Union can only pip Genk to the regular season title if they defeat Kortrijk and Genk loses to Charleroi. In this case, should both teams finish level on points (an Union win plus a Genk draw), the winner will be decided on goal difference. Since Genk’s GD is +14 better than Union, it is safe to say that the Limburg-based side will not be caught in that case.

Fourth place: Gent (56), Club Brugge (56), Standard Liège (55)

The final position in Playoffs 1 is up for grabs between Gent, Club Brugge and Standard Liège. Hein Vanhaezebouck’s Buffalo’s are in pole position as they lead the way on number of wins (16 to Club Brugge’s 15).

As a result, Club Brugge must win more points than Gent on the last matchday if they are to pass their rival for the last title playoffs spot. In saying that, should Club draw at home to Eupen and Gent to KV Oostende at home, Standard would have to also drop points in order for Club to win the final spot.

Gent has it very easy: a win and/or a Club Brugge defeat plus a Standard draw or loss will give them the last spot in the championship playoff. Of course, if all three teams win, draw, or lose, fourth place will also belong to Gent.

As for Standard, who travels to OH Leuven, the only way for them to make it into the top four at the end of the weekend is by them winning while both Gent and Club Brugge drop points. Ronny Deila’s men are already assured a place in the European playoffs at minimum, like the other two teams they are competing with.

Finally, should the three teams finish level on points (Gent and Club Brugge lose, plus a Standard draw), the will finish in the following order: Gent, Standard, Club Brugge.

Eighth spot: Charleroi (47), Cercle Brugge (47), Anderlecht (46), OH Leuven (45)

Four teams will compete for the final place in the European Playoffs. Most of them will not have it easy on the final matchday, as only Anderlecht does not face team still competing for a significant place in the rankings.

Charleroi is in pole position courtesy of them winning two more games than Cercle. Therefore, should Felice Mazzu’s team defeat Genk at home, the final playoff place is theirs. If they win and Westerlo loses to Seraing, les Zèbres will finish seventh on games won. If Charleroi matches everyone else’s result, that will also be enough.

For Cercle Brugge, they just need to win at Zulte Wargem and hope Charleroi drops points. A draw would be enough for eighth spot if Charleroi loses, while neither Anderlecht nor Leuven pick up three points.

Anderlecht know they must win at home to KV Mechelen if they are to make the playoffs. Furthermore, along with that win, Charleroi and Cercle would both have to drop points. A draw will not be enough for Anderlecht as Charleroi has more wins than them.

As for Leuven, they have it even more difficult. Along with the required victory over Standard, they would also need Charleroi to lose, and both Cercle and Anderlecht to drop points. If Charleroi and Leuven finish level, the former would take the spot on games won. Meanwhile, if only Cercle and Leuven finish tied, the place would be Leuven’s on goal difference.

Lastly, it is worth noting that Westerlo, who is on 50 points, has already qualified for the playoffs although they could still finish level with Chaleroi and Cercle Brugge. Since the latter has two less wins than Westerlo, there is no way for Cercle to catch the promoted side.

Relegation: Eupen (28), Zulte Waregem (27)

Neither Eupen nor Zulte will have it easy as the pair look to avoid the same fate as Oostende and Seraing. The latter two clubs mentioned are already doomed and will compete in the Challenger Pro League in 2023/24. While Oostende can still pass Zulte, De Kustboys cannot finish higher than 16th.

The scenario is very simple here: Zulte Waregem must beat Cercle Brugge while Eupen drops points at Club Brugge. That is the only way for Essevee to maintain their top flight presence. Any other result will see Eupen stay in the Jupiler Pro League beyond this season. Should the two clubs finish level (Eupen loss plus Zulte draw), the Pandas will finish above the drop on games won.

The only other game not mentioned is between Antwerp and Sint-Truiden. There is nothing of serious consequence on the line for either club, as Antwerp cannot catch league leaders Genk. Sint-Truiden, on the other hand, will finish 12th at best.

All nine games, for the exception of Seraing – Westerlo (Saturday at 18:15) and Antwerp – Sint-Truiden (Sunday at 13:30), will take place at 18:30 on Sunday. The schedule for Playoffs 1 and Playoffs 2 will be released a couple of days after the matches.

David Parkes

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