CELEBRATIONS over Standard Liege’s Belgian Cup triumph may have been put into perspective by the terrorism in Brussels on Tuesday morning, but the club’s 2-1 win against favourites Club Brugge deserves to be mentioned.
The Belgian national team postponed training on the day that the capital city was left stunned by bombing incidents. “Football is not important today,” said the Belgian Football Federation.
On Sunday, however, Standard won the Cup for the seventh time thanks to an 88th minute decider from Croatian centre-forward Ivan Santini, his first goal in the competition. Skipper Adrien Trebel was left as red-faced as the Liege shirts when he received the cup. Jumping up and down on the podium, his shorts fell down!
It has been a disappointing season for Standard Liege. They missed out on the Championship play-offs in the regular season and are in one of the four-team Europa League play-off groups that starts on April 2. They’re currently on their second manager as the summer appointment, Slavoljub Muslin, only lasted until the end of August. His replacement, Yannick Ferrera, took over in September. Standard finished seventh, one place below the top group. Brugge, Gent, Anderlecht, Oostende, Genk and Zulte Weregem will all play in the six-team Championship Play-Off.
Belgium’s cup final is one of the first to be played this season. Here’s a run-down on the situation in some of Europe’s domestic cup competitions:
Austria: Semi-finals – April 19/20 – Admira Wacker v St. Polten; Salzburg v Austria Wien
Bulgaria: Semi-Finals – April 6/20 – Montana v Lovech; Beroe v CSKA Sofia
Croatia: Semi-finals – April 5/6 (2nd leg) – Slaven Koprivnica v Rijeka; D.Zagreb v Hajduk Split
Czech Republic: Semi-finalists are Viktoria Plzen, Jablonec, Slovan Liberec and Mlada Boleslav
Denmark: Semi-finals – April 6/20 – FC Kobenhavn v Brondby; Roskilde or AaB v AGF
England: Semi-finals – April 23/24 – Everton v West Ham or Man.Utd; Crystal Palace v Watford
France: Semi-finals – April 19/20 – Lorient v PSG; Sochaux v Marseille
Germany: Semi-finals – April 19/20 – Bayern v Bremen; Hertha v Dortmund
Holland: Final – April 24 – Feyenoord v Utrecht
Hungary: Semi-finals – April 12 (2nd leg) – Ferencvaros v Debrecen; Bekescsaba v Ujpest
Italy: Final – May 21 – AC Milan v Juventus
Poland: Semi-finals – April 5/6 (2nd leg) – Zaglebie v Lech Poznan; Zawiska v Legia
Portugal: Final – May 22 – Porto v Braga
Romania: Semi-finals – April 20/21 (2nd leg) – Targu Mures v Cluj; Dinamo v Steaua
Russia: Semi-finals – April 19 – Amkar Perm v Zenit; CSKA v Krasnodar
Scotland: Semi-final – April 16/17 – Rangers v Celtic; Hibernian v Dundee United
Serbia: Semi-finals – April 19 (2nd leg) – Borac Cacak v Javor Ivanjika; Spartak Subotica v Partizan
Spain: Final – May 22 – Barcelona v Sevilla Sweden: Final – May 4 – Malmo v Hacken
Switzerland: Final – May 29 – Lugano v Zurich
Turkey: Semi-finals – April 20/May 10 – Galatasaray v Rizespor; Fenerbahce v Konyaspor