Play-off pain for ex-Portsmouth favourite Christian Burgess but Champions League hopes remain alive

Christian Burgess’ hope of securing an unprecedented Belgian league winners’ medal looks set to fall agonisingly short – but his Champions League hopes remain well and truly on.

By Pepe Lacey
Monday, 16th May 2022, 2:30 pm
Updated Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:16 pm

The ex-Pompey favourite has played a key role in Royale Union Saint-Gilloise’s fairytale season back in the Jupiler Pro Division after a 48-year top-flight absence.

After helping the side secure promotion from the second tier last season, Burgess & Co climbed to the summit after 11 games of the current campaign, where they remained for the conclusion of the regular season.

It wasn’t enough for them to be crowned champions, though, with the top-four teams subsequently qualifying for a play-off-type system, where each side’s points are halved and two more games against those who have qualified are played.

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Les Unionistes’ impressive season-long form couldn’t be maintained, however, and the Brussels-based outfit have since dropped off top spot and conceded the position to Club Brugge, whom they have lost twice to in the championship round of games.

Despite a 2-0 win over rivals Anderlecht on Sunday, the gap to the new leaders stands at three points.

And with just one more game remaining – at home to Antwerp this weekend – Burgess will need a win and Brugge to slip up badly in their final match against Anderlect.

Indeed, a five-goal swing is also needed for everything to go Union’s way and for Blauw-Zwart to be denied their fourth league title in five seasons.

Ex-Pompey favourite Christian Burgess is set to miss out on the Jupiler Belgium Pro Division title but his Champions League hopes remain alive.

Although the title is out of Fellice Mazzu’s side’s hands, a seven-point cushion separates them from third-place, which means Burgess & Co have reached the Champions League qualifiers for the very first time.

This means the former Pompey favourite is in with a chance of playing against the likes of Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland and Mo Salah on club football’s biggest stage next term.

The former Blues defender and News/Sports Mail Pompey player of the season has been pivotal to Union’s success since his Fratton Park switch in 2020,

And as Danny Cowley’s side gear up for a sixth season in League One, Burgess is set to embark on Champions League football despite appearing to fall short in the battle for the Belgian Pro League title.