Belgium. A place famous for a number of things, mainly food related I may add…erm… diamonds. Anyway, what it isn’t visited for, and I maybe wrong, is for football. The Pro League isn’t ranked up there with the Premier League, La Logs, Series A, Bundes…You see where I’m going, and on the surface, yeah, I agree, people won’t necessarily watch it at prime time like some may in those leagues mentioned and others, including their neighbours from France and Holland, but there’s nothing to say that it’s not worth its place amongst the lesser leagues in Europe.
The cries for the league where the best from Belgium, Holland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden etc, etc has been mentioned, and strongly too, but would that help? Going by just Sundays fixture between Anderlecht and Standard Liege where scars run deep and the 2 red cards showed that, as well as lack of discipline, that if they were to be split, new rivalries will come, but never in the same way and to the same extent.
The goals so far in 2017 have shown there’s quality. There’s no lure of money and what else may come with that, but I enjoy visiting Belgium. It is one nation I could honestly say I wouldn’t be tired of. So loving there is a tick in my opinion. In its own way, it is competitive. Yes you’ll have the same teams battling out for the title, European places and what not, but that doesn’t, again, necessarily mean that they’ll automatically be champions. Teams have progressed, even through baby steps.
What I mean by that is, for example, Anderlecht. I remember watching them at The Emirates battling back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 to my disbelief. They defeated Tottenham last season if I recall, as well as overcoming Monaco in their group and beat Olympiacos as well which is impressive, regardless of what people may say. The year before that, Club Brugge were knocked out by eventual runners up Dnipro in the quarter finals, proving that there can be quality.
The thing is though, Belgium is a league where you can’t keep talent. Footballers are all ambitious and competitive and always want to prove themselves on the bigger stage, which is understandable, but the grass isn’t always greener at an early age. Obviously for every Januzaj the a De Bruyne, but even for De Bruyne it didn’t work out immediately. I mentioned Tielemans last week should still cut his teeth in Belgium, and I stand by that, because players think they can achieve more especially when they’re younger, but staying in Belgium, improving their league, progressing gradually can be considered better for development.
With either players exploring Europe and then coming back, or unknowns from eastern Europe, south America, Africa coming into the league before being the snatched can maybe show why the Pro League may even be considered a 3rd tier league, but now and again in the stage, they can brighten, and at home it’s always popular, to an extent, when teams like Anderlecht, Genk, Club Brugge sell out regularly, and that’s the life blood behind these clubs, hopefully pushing the league on, compete with the Eredivisie and topple them, and maybe continue.
It probably looks like I’m rambling rather than making sense but I’m genuinely interested because A) I love football and B) I really like Belgium and that’s why I waste my time either watching and briefing matches or wanting to rant about a league which may lose its best players and produce sometimes better players…