Lokeren vs Genk
Lokeren didn't actually have a really positive season last time, as they finished only at the thirteenth position in the regular part of the championship. They were also just four points behind rock bottom placed KV Mechelen.
However, they did improve the situation in the latter phase. The side managed to get the first position in Europa League group, ending it with four points more than St Truiden. With six victories, three draws and a defeat they really looked far better in that part of the season. However, playing against Zulte Waregem in the semi-finals of play-offs for Europa League was too much as they suffered exclusion via penalty kicks even though they had a man more for more than eighty minutes of play.
The side had really plenty of friendly matches for preparations, starting slowly firstly with amateur opponents. Apart from these three victories, the team had a goalless game against Cercle Brugge, but also a narrow victory over Waregem. In the last three matches, the team didn't show much of improvement losing to AZ Alkmaar, Lommel SK, and Lokomotiva Zagreb last Sunday afternoon.
Lokeren tried not to change much, they mostly signed players on a free transfer but also let few of them leave the club in the same manner. Right back Tirpan came from Eupen, while central back Diaby was signed from Sampdoria. Striker Saroka came from Dinamo Minsk. A couple of more came on loan deals, such as offensive midfielder Kehli from Leuven and winger Slagveer from Twente.
Genk, on the other side, didn't have that poor season but still could have done much more - something that they will try in the new one. The side finished regular part at the fifth position with a significant shortage in comparison to best sides and with only two points more than seventh and out of play-off zone placed Kortijk.
However, they were in the battle for the Champions League exit as well, finishing that play-off stage with a 4-4-2 record and fifth position in the end. That made them play an additional match against Zulte Waregem for the Europa League, which they have won with a 2:0 result. As for the Cup competition they were really close to a trophy losing it in the finals at extra-time against Standard Liege.
The side showed some decent performances in the preparation period winning over some amateur clubs, but also against Valenciennes 4:1, Mouscron 5:2, Greek giants Olympiakos 4:0. Seems that scoring goals is far away from a troubling part of the game for them, as they convincingly won in the second qualifying round over Fola 5:0 in Europa League last Thursday afternoon.
It could be said that the team got boosted with quality during the transfer period. They have signed offensive midfielder Paintsil from Tema Youth, but also central back Lucumi from Deportivo Cali, defensive midfielder Screciu from Craiova, midfielder Piotrowski from Pogon, offensive midfielder Ndogala from Standard and Gano striker from Oostende. Few players have left too, including central back Colley who went to Sampdoria and striker Schrijvers who signed for Brugge.
- Genk are undefeated in their last 6 away matches against Lokeren.
Not only due to Europa League game against Fola, but also during the friendly matches players of Genk looked very superior and dominant with the ball to their feet. It seems that the things are looking almost perfect for them so early in the season and if they continue in the same manner, they will be even bigger favorites for this one than what the odds suggest.
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Lokeren vs Genk prediction
Genk Wins @ 1.92 with Pinnacle