The final day of the Belgian Eerste Klasse season promises to be the most exciting in the competition's 113-year history with champions R. Standard de Liège and RSC Anderlecht locked together on 74 points heading into Saturday's 34th and last round of matches.
The two teams have each recorded 23 victories and, though Anderlecht have marginally the better goal difference, should they remain level on points after Saturday's game a two-legged play-off would decide the destination of the title. There is much work to be done before then, however, with Standard facing a tough trip to third-placed KAA Gent and their captain Steven Defour is calling on his team-mates to show the spirit that so nearly overcame Liverpool FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round back in August, explaining: "The match we played at Liverpool is our reference. The level we reached then was sky high technically, tactically and mentally. We have never played better this season but in Gent we must reach that standard again to achieve our goal."
As if more intrigue needed to be added, the coach who ended the Liege club's 25-year wait for a league title in 2008, Michel Preud'homme, will be in the opposing dugout at the Jules Otten Stadium and Defour recognises this poses an added challenge. "[Preud'homme] knows our strengths and weaknesses and will have a perfect plan ready to minimise and exploit them," the 21-year-old midfielder admitted. "That's how I know our old coach works – but luckily it's us players who get to perform on the pitch."
While Standard are seeking to defend the title, Anderlecht are bidding for a record 30th Belgian crown at cup finalists KRC Genk. Mbark Boussoufa, who was this week voted the best player of African descent in Belgium, started the verbal sparring by describing Anderlecht as "the biggest club" in the country. "We might be at the crucial stage of the championship, but why shouldn't we be relaxed? I imagine that, when we go to the training camp [before the game], the tension will rise," he said. "I am very calm, though. We have been Standard's equals all season and even if we don't become champions, Anderlecht will remain the biggest club in Belgium. Another side can always become champions but that does not change the established order."