With Argentina winning the winter World Cup, domestic football in Belgium makes an immediate return with the round of 16 in the Belgian Cup. Last season Gent beat Anderlecht on penalties to lift the cup, and both finalists will be in action this week. We preview the games coming up in Belgium this Tuesday as the teams return from their winter sun training camps.
Mechelen v RFC Seraing
2019 cup winners KV Mechelen host RFC Seraing on the 20th of December. The away side are currently bottom and have not picked up a point in the league since the 14th of October. In the cup however, they beat fellow Walloon based side Charleroi 4-1 in the round of 32, with three of their goals coming after extra time. Perhaps a welcome distraction from their abysmal league form, Seraing may hope that a good cup run could boost their league form. For Mechelen, safety is hardly confirmed, and like Seraing, Malinwa were amongst the goals in the round of 32 as they beat Lokeren-Temse 5-0. This may well be a game neither side is too concerned about given their league situation.
Oud-Heverlee Leuven v Kortrijk
Given they have only existed since 2002, OH Leuven in this form have never won the cup. The side will fancy their chances of progressing to the quarter finals against a poor Kortrijk side who need to focus more on the league than on the cup. Last season Leuven lost 4-1 in the quarter-finals to Club Brugge, so would hope for a more favourable draw in the next round. Kortrijk also made the quarter finals, losing 3-0 to Anderlecht. Kortrijk are on their third manager of the season and it would not be surprising if Bernd Storck doesn’t put much into the cup given their league position.
Union Saint-Gilloise v Oostende
Union are flying high in the league and Europe, but the club should certainly see the Cup as a chance for silverware. On their day they can beat any side in Belgium, so will fancy their chances against and Oostende side who, like Kortrijk and Seraing, have far more to worry about in the league. Union only made the sixth round last season, but this year will be aiming to win their first Belgian Cup since 1914. Oostende made the final in 2017 where they lost to Zulte Waregem, but their chances this year appear slim. Union are a strong side at home so Oostende will certainly have to be at their best to get through.
Gent v Cercle Brugge
Last years cup winners will be eyeing up another strong cup run this year. Despite a poor start, they are finding their form in the league and have managed to get through to the next round of the Europa Conference League. With the league title appearing out of their reach already, the cup may be their only chance of domestic silverware. Cercle last won the cup in 1985, and their last final appearance was in 2013 when they lost to Genk. However, Cercle were one of the form sides going into the World Cup break, and have shown that they have the quality to trouble any side in the league. Gent will certainly have to be at their best to come out on top against a side who has already beaten them at home this year.