Sam Vines

With the Belgian Pro League coming to an end over the weekend, the Royal Belgian Football Association announced the play-off schedules for both the Champions’ and Europe Play-offs on Monday afternoon.

Finishing in the top group, also known as the Champions’ Play-offs, four teams will be fighting it out to claim the title and join Europe’s elite in the illustrious Champions League competition next season.

Newcomers to the Pro League, Union St Gilloise, finished in first place on 74 points, just two points ahead of Club Brugge, who will hope to retain the title that they won last season. In the third spot is Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht on 64 points, followed closely by Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp on 63. Each of the teams will play each other twice, both home and away with a total of 18 points up for grabs.

To make the competition more open and perhaps more exciting, every team will have its total points from the regular season cut in half.  If that happens to be an odd number, such as with Antwerp, the points will be rounded up.  The top group and points are as follows:

Union St. Gilloise37
Club Brugge36
Anderlecht32
Royal Antwerp32

In the European group, Mark McKenzie’s Genk barely edged out Sint Truiden for the eighth and final spot. The points in this group will also be halved and this is how the teams will line up:

Gent31
Charleroi27
Mechelen26
Genk26

The winner of this group will go up against the fourth place team in the top group and slug it out for a European place. All of this could change however, depending on the outcome of the Belgian Cup that will be contested on Easter Monday between Gent and Anderlecht.

The play-offs get underway April 24th when Vines and Antwerp travel to the Jan Breydel Stadium. McKenzie and Genk get underway on April 23rd when they travel west to take on Cup finalists Gent. Both Americans’ full schedule is as follows:

April 24Gent vs Genk
April 24Club Brugge vs Antwerp
April 29Genk vs Mechelen
May 1Antwerp vs USG
May 6Charleroi vs Genk
May 8Antwerp vs Anderlecht
May 10Genk vs Charleroi
May 12Anderlecht vs Antwerp
May 15Antwerp vs Club Brugge
May 15Genk vs Gent
May 21Mechelen vs Genk
May 22USG vs Antwerp

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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