Preview: Genk vs. Gent – prediction, team news, lineups

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Preview: Genk vs. Gent – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Belgian Pro League clash between Genk and Gent, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

KRC Genk are set to host KAA Gent at the Cegeka Arena in Belgium’s Pro League on Sunday, and the winner will qualify for the Europa Conference League.

The home side finished fifth in the championship playoff group while Gent finished first in the seventh to 12th-placed playoff stage, but in the regular season Genk ended the campaign one place higher than their opponents in sixth.

Match preview

© Reuters

The hosts will naturally be disappointed with their season considering that last term they had directly qualified for the Conference League by finishing first in the regular season.

Indeed, Genk’s record of 1.6 points per game this league campaign was significantly lower than their average of 2.2 last season.

Assistant Domenico Olivieri was appointed interim manager earlier in May after Wouter Vrancken was sacked following his side’s disappointing championship playoffs, an issue compounded by the fact he expressed a desire to depart the club for Sunday’s opponents Gent.

Olivieri has long been associated with Genk having coached their reserves from 2006 to 2017 and having been appointed interim manager on two previous occasions, most recently in 2020.

Mark McKenzie for Genk© Reuters

The 56-year-old interim boss won his first match against Antwerp but did lose his second against Union Saint-Gilloise last Sunday.

Genk have lost five of their last six playoff matches, conceding 15 goals and scoring just three times in this run of poor form.

As for the away side, though they failed to qualify for the championship playoffs, they did accumulate 47 points in the regular season, the same number as opponents Genk.

With manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck‘s contract expiring at the end of the season it had been rumoured that Gent would not be extending his three-and-a-half-year stay, and in May it was confirmed that he would be leaving the club by mutual consent at the end of the campaign.

Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck reacts on February 21, 2024© Reuters

Vanhaezebrouck was also at the helm between 2014 and 2017, and in 2015 he delivered the club’s first ever Pro League title.

Gent’s seventh-placed finish this regular season meant that they were placed into the league’s Europa Conference League playoffs, and having topped their group they must now defeat Genk in order to qualify for the UEFA competition next term.

The away side come into the game in good form having won nine of their previous 11 domestic fixtures, including their last two against Standard Liege and Sint-Truiden.

Since 2017, matches between Sunday’s opponents have been closely fought contests, with Genk winning eight times and Gent six, while clashes have ended in stalemate five times.

Genk Belgian Pro League form:

Gent Belgian Pro League form:

Team News

Gent players look dejected after the match on February 21, 2024© Reuters

The hosts will certainly be without forward Luca Oyen as a result of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in early March, the exact same injury he suffered in 2022.

Zakaria El Ouahdi is set to miss out due to his red card against Union Saint-Gilloise.

In more positive news, Genk will hope to have Bryan Heynen and Aziz Mohammed back in the squad, although the pair do remain doubts for Sunday’s clash.

As for the away side, they have no confirmed injury absentees but Gent still have doubts over the fitness of Franck Surdez following his hamstring injury, as well as Tibe De Vlieger after he suffered a knock.

Tarik Tissoudali is Gent’s top scorer with 15 league goals and he will likely lead the forward line once again.

Genk possible starting lineup:
Vandevoordt; Kongolo, McKenzie, Sadick, Ditu; Galarza, Hrosovsky; Baah, El Khannouss, Fadera; Arokodare

Gent possible starting lineup:
Roef; Mitrovic, Watanabe, Torunarigha; Samoise, De Sart, Gandelman, Brown; Hong, Fernandez, Tissoudali

SM words green background

We say: Genk 1-2 Gent

Considering Gent’s outstanding form of late as well as Genk’s inconsistency, the away side should be favourites in Sunday’s matchup.

However, clashes between the two sides have often been close affairs and with so much at stake, the game could be tense and low scoring.

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