This fixture promises to be one of the most entertaining games of the Jupiler Pro League calendar thus far. Two of the division’s most prolific attacks will come head to head in Genk for this top four clash.
Not many would have placed an online bet on the newly promoted Saint Gilloise to sit at the summit of Belgium’s top division, but they are good value for it. Not only have the visitors scored the joint most goals (13), but they also have the best defensive record after conceding just five times. Their opening run of the Jupiler Pro League calendar wasn’t the easiest either! They have beaten Belgian giants Anderlecht and Standard Liege, whilst narrowly losing out to the champions Club Brugge.
After failing to win in their opening two fixtures, Genk have now established a three game win streak, including a 1-0 win over rivals Anderlecht last time out. Had they played the same number of matches as the teams above them, they could easily find themselves at the top of the table.
Can Saint Gilloise keep Genk out?
Total goals under 1.5– 4.50
Attack is the best form of defence has been Saint Gilloise’s ideology this season and it has been brilliant to watch. Although Denis Undav and Dante Vanzeir had superb seasons to help their team get promoted, nobody could be sure that they would find the net with such frequency in the first division. But that’s exactly what they have done.
The strike partners have combined for nine goals and five assists in just six games, and they show no signs of slowing up. There has only been one game in which neither of the forwards found the net, the only game thus far in which Saint Gilloise have failed to score. The 3-5-2 formation has been largely effective so far and has afforded the young Belgian playmaker Senne Lynen with creative responsibility which he has relished.
However, Genk will provide an entirely new challenge for Saint Gilloise’s back three. The home side often opt to play with a front three, which could cause problems in the spaces vacated by the Gilloise wing-backs. If there is one thing you can’t give Theo Bongonda in his current form, it’s space. We don’t expect by the visitors to alter their style of play which has served them so well, but Genk’s wingers could cause havoc if they are not addressed.
Can Genk outscore the visitors?
Total goals over 4.5 – 4.20
Last time the home side went toe-to-toe with a team, they were beaten 4-3 by Oostende and squandered leads on two occasions. They have sharpened up since that game and have conceded just once in the three games that followed. However, the Colombian centre-half pairing of Jhon Lucumi and Carlos Cuesta will have to have their wits about them in order to stop Saint Gilloise’s deadly duo, which only Club Brugge have been able to do.
Genk do of course have the personnel to outscore any team in the division on their day. Paul Onuachu has not yet rediscovered the form which saw him net 33 times last season, but always remains a threat with his goalscoring instinct and physicality. Bongonda is also on track to match his best goalscoring campaign, with four in five already this season. As if that pair wasn’t enough, Genk have recently signed Ike Ugbo on a permanent transfer from Chelsea after he impressed last season, scoring 16 times for Cercle Brugge. The Englishman hit the ground running and scored the winner after just five minutes on the pitch against Anderlecht.
There is not an awful lot to pick between these two teams, but we think Genk will just edge it in an entertaining game. They have improved defensively and have a dynamic attack which could exploit the Saint Gilloise back three.