Posted in Pro League in Europe, Transfers, Uncategorized

Random Ramblings

This blog post is a post where, like some I have done before, I spill my thoughts onto a screen via my thumb as I’m having to use my phone. I am @currently in Luxembourg, mainly because flights were cheap, along with accommodation, and I have worked a lot in 2017.

It’s tough for me and whoever may read this because it’s a reality check in some ways. I managed to go to the stadia of the 2 biggest clubs in Luxembourg City. Their capacities aren’t big and in all honesty, they resemble a non league ground in England. How they’d be able to play in UEFA competition is beyond me, and furthermore, how did Glasgow Rangers get knocked out by Niedercorn (if that’s correct).

I then think about the Pro League. A league where people in England scoff at the players, league and clubs. Where the other night on what is the biggest sports radio station in the world, they said they’d keep us abreast of all goals as they go in across Europe. Belgium apparently isn’t in Europe because Oostende vs Antwerp wasn’t mentioned at all. As I’ve said many times, I find Belgian football entertaining, fascinating, and with most clubs, approachable in that you can contact the clubs and ‘converse’ I guess.

But every club have their problems and expectations. The club I actually support is in total disarray on and off the pitch. The players want to leave, the manager won’t and the fans basically want everyone to go! If you know who I’m on about you will say that I don’t know how lucky I am. But because if all this I have become disillusioned. The negativity is beginning to wear me down and I no longer have the affinity with my club anymore.

I have Belgian Football as my release. I see that Standard Liege are almost capitulating in some ways. I see a big name in Jordi Clasie has come across from Southampton. But as much as I try to keep up to date, I tend to give my opinion of the facts or rumours that I’ve read, whether it’s immediate or later. I have played and loved football since I was 4 years old and 23 years later, that relationship is hanging by a thread because of who I support and the money thrown about. 

In England, money from fans no longer pay wages. When you see £30-£40-£50 million + deals made between July and September and then in January, you are no longer surprised. When you see insurmountable wages thrown about and players say THAT’S NOT ENOUGH! You almost need to question the parents. 

I don’t know. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the Lokeren press officer said don’t compare us to England. But we invented football and have over 100 professional football clubs. To not make a comparison with what I know…Well…I have nothing to go by then. When I saw 2 managers sacked after 2 matches in Belgium I actually got worried. It gave me something to write, but I was hoping Belgium was better than that.

It is. It gives you Mouscron, Kortrijk, Antwerp and Sint Truiden looking down at Oostende, Anderlecht, Gent and Standard Liege and it shows that things can be different if team ethic and hard work comes into play. I hope this continues, at least til Christmas because it gives clubs hope that togetherness is more important than individualism. Especially in football…

Posted in Matches in Brief

Antwerp March on as Anderlecht Stutter

And not forgetting Club Brugge, we had to wait for the last game of the weekend to see a thriller where we just didn’t know what’d happen in the end. But before that, we saw 4 team I felt would be fighting for the title, but instead, only one of those four have really turned on the style leading up to the international break.

After Charleroi kept up the pressure yesterday, Club Brugge had to show real bottle against a Standard Liege side who were hoping to turn their form around after recent poor displays. Unfortunately for Les Rouches, they slumped again. Another 4-0 drubbing at the Jan Breydel Stadion this time where Hans Vanaken turned up and must’ve had his weetabix! Scoring a decent half volley from close range, he then played a sumptuous through ball to Wesley where his strength shrugged off the chasing defender and gave Brugge a 2-0 lead after just 6 minutes!

Ricardo Sa Pinto couldn’t inspire his team as a deflected effort from Vanaken went in and then lax defending saw Brandon Mechele unmarked and scored from a quick free kick. A real terrible performance from Standard Liege and I did tweet saying that Sa Pinto must have some questions to answer. Signing South Americans are fine when you need a luxury player, but right now they need some players to dig in and dig deep and ground out some wins in my opinion. Brugge march on domestically after an embarrassing European qualification campaign (if you can call it that).

Then Gent hosted Anderlecht in a 0-0 draw at the Ghelamco Arena. Both teams on the face of it needed a win, maybe Anderlecht more than Gent, but in the end maybe both were more scared to lose than chance a win. In most occasions the away side would always be happy to take away a point, but lying 10th with just one win isn’t great for the reigning champions.

Lastly, the Versluys Arena still didn’t see an Oostende win…or draw for that matter. After Franck Berrier scored a cheeky penalty, maybe De Kustboys may have felt confident. But 1-0 went to 1-3! Fantastic improvisation by Ivo Rodrigues brought the Great Old level. Then a great header by Matheus Borges and a strong and willing run, rounding the goalkeeper with defenders on his back, Stallone Limbombe made it 3!

However, I gave up and had to look after my son with 7 minutes of normal time to go…an instinctive back post header from Zinho Gano brought a lifeline and his first goal for Oostende. But 2 minutes later, Ivos Rodrigues doubled his tally and took Antwerp’s tally to 4 on the night, 4-2 with four minutes left. But…again…Oostende showed fight knowing that they were going to lose anyway, and fought back to grab another goal. Ibrahima Conte ended the scoring on the night.

A 4-3 scoreline with six second half goals where Oostende just can’t win and it is upsetting because they did play well last season, but defensively all goals conceded are preventable. Awful defending all round though. Antwerp however… possibly the toughest start possible yet they’ve won 3 matches and have been great. Have they been a surprise? I don’t know. But long may this run continue for the oldest club in Belgium!

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Matches in Brief

Les Zèbres Earn Their Stripes

Okay, before I begin its been difficult to actually find a decent place to see the highlights of what any of you saw. I typed in all possibilities and I found some, honest, but not all! Now that I’ve confessed I’ll also say that I’m late posting this because I was watching Match of the Day. I’m a charlatan and a fraud but it is the Premier League! 

Now back to business. Charleroi eventually showed that they are here to stay at the top of the table. Zulte Waregem played extremely well judging by how the match actually went, and maybe the red card proved vital for Charleroi? But just before half time, Peter Olayinka nodded home from a cross. Nicolas Penneteau has a lot to answer for in my opinion. He has kept clean sheets but he has let in a couple of goals where I felt he could’ve done better.

But this is where the match kicked into life, at least the last 15 minutes anyway. Firstly, Kaveh Rezaei tapped home from around 3 yards to equalise. Then, I was shown by a score update app that substitute Aaron Leya Iseka could’ve snatched the win with not long left, although it was clearly an own goal by Stergos Marinos. But that wasn’t to be. Amara Baby grabbed another equaliser before Julien De Sart saw red in the 92nd minute, and somehow, that man difference seemed to help the hosts as Kaveh Razaei sent the Stade du Pays de Charleroi into raptures. A 3-2 home win, 100% regarding wins and points. Charleroi have battled and have put pressure on Club Brugge every week which is testament to them. Zulte on the other hand lost their second match of the season, and I’m believer that losing these matches aren’t as much of an emergency compared to losing to the lesser sides in the league.

Now that I can breathe, three more matches saw us out on Saturday. I’ll start with Genk where Alejandro Pozuelo passed the ball into the bottom corner 7 minutes before the break to seal a win for Genk. Their first home win of the season. Thomas Buffel saw red in the 90th minute, but unlike at Charleroi, that didn’t make an impact on the outcome. But Mechelen…I’m not sure what to say. Three points won but no actual wins this season. With a week til the window shuts, Yannick Ferrera must think about buying?!?

Now to the 2 matches where we didn’t see much in the first half, but Lokeren more than made up for it in the second half disposing of Eupen in a 3-0 win. Samy Kehli started the scoring just after half time until Robin Söder and Marko Miric put the gloss on another decent win for Lokeren. Give Peter Maes credit, his getting a tune out of this side now. Eupen, who got an encouraging win last time out have lost 4 matches out of 5. I’m still unsure about whether Jordi Condom will see out this season but time will tell…

Lastly on Saturday, it took until the 74th minute for Sint Truiden to bang the door down. A fine half volley from Charlton loanee Igor Vetokele at the front post, grabbing his SECOND, that’s SECOND goal of the season and continue this great run of form and perfect start for Jonas De Roeck. I’ve exclaimed Vetokele’s goal as he corrected me on Twitter as I rushed the update to say STVV took the lead! Beveren have slumped since Zinho Gano has left and I really hope they can turn their form around sooner rather than later.

Going back in time, Kortrijk drew Friday night with Mouscron who come back from behind, again, to take a vital point. A goal in each half from both sides settled the match where the goals weren’t exactly classics. So 1-1…end of really.
(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Stefan Mitrovic

I rarely ever do Player Profiles about defenders because they don’t always influence a match. If they do, it tends to be through red cards, own goals, conceding penalties, errors etc. But this weekend sees a so far hapless Gent side host champions Anderlecht (who have been equally as hapless) but this could be the match that ignites the touch paper for De Buffalos. Let’s have it right, they’ve gone out of Europe, lost to Sint Truiden, Antwerp and were embarrassed last time out away to, who I thought were relegation fodder before a ball was kicked, Mouscron. A point away to Mechelen was gained, although it was technically 2 lost.

Without being too negative, I’m not pointing fingers at individuals, although Lovre Kalinic didn’t cover himself well, but it’s more of a team problem. This is where my Player Profile comes in. Stefan Mitrovic, now in his 3rd season at the club, will hope the club turns it’s form around. Playing every minute this season, not that he wouldn’t have encountered this individually, but the club haven’t really been in a rut like this in his tenure. What I mean is, Gent are a big club who rub shoulders with the top 6 regularly.

The Serbian has a wealth of experience too, playing in 7 countries! So he’ll have to draw on all his experiences and adversities to turn the clubs fortunes around. But let’s face it, I’ve chosen to write about Stefan because this is a huge match this Sunday. Anderlecht are coming to town. The Ghelamco Arena will be rocking. Hopefully an atmosphere that the visitors won’t enjoy, although they have been in many a hostile environment, and Mitrovic will have to be on top of his game. With a quadrant of Onyekuru, Teodorczyk, Hanni and Bruno coming his way, he’ll have to use his organisational skills, dedication and commitment to want to stop this formidable front 4.

I’ve always been a believer that footballers get paid to concentrate for 90 minutes. If everyone did their job every weekend then we’d only have nil-nil scorelines. And it starts with a defence more than a goalkeeper in some aspects as if they position themselves correctly, they can cut out any chances before they begin. Is Stefan was to read this, it may get into his head where focussing on his communication and where to be, as well as thinking about where to be and what to do, without complicating things, he could well have a comfortable weekend?

Beyond this match things should turn around. Two things we always learn from football. Firstly, the cream rises to the top. Secondly, league positions tend to full into place by which club pays the best wages (it does in England anyway) meaning Gent will turn it around. I believe in the manager and the players anyway. A bad start also tends to mean a good finish. Gent finished fantastically last season sneaking it to 3rd spot when all said and done, and with Stefan Mitrovic being a leader in that changing room, I’m sure things will get better, hopefully starting Sunday…

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Matches in Brief

Five Weeks in and We’re None the Wiser

What I mean by that title is that other than the top 3, the rest of the league looks all over the place from what I would’ve predicted! When Charleroi and Club Brugge are 8 points clear of champions Anderlecht, and Gent and Oostende just falling apart at the seams, I love the underdog factor and unpredictability currently on show. This weekend is no different either, because right now, with the way the league looks, this weekend could prove to be the best weekend of the season. The players are all hungry, fresh, alert and…well…nervous!

No nerves in the proverb curtain raiser to an outstanding weekend of football, where 7th host 4th. In other words, Kortrijk vs Mouscron…wait… Mouscron are 4th?!? I love this. I can’t help it. I love how these two have been great so far and unfortunately, one will take points off of the other. Christophe Lepoint, Jovan Stojanovic, Omar Govea and Dimitri Mohamed have been great the past couple of weeks, and with a spirited defeat from Kortrijk last week, and am amazing turnaround by Mouscron, both will feel confident going into tonights match. I feel a home win is on the cards, but Mouscron are so unpredictable, in a good way, that this could be the match of the weekend!

But I could say that about any match coming up. Look at Saturday. Charleroi put their 100% start on the line against free scoring Zulte Waregem. The best defence against the best scorers. This could be a draw, mainly because Les Zèbres may be too scared to lose against a team where an away draw against a rival could prove vital. Charleroi have been great also, as they’ve taken points off of Anderlecht and Genk in the past two weeks, regardless of their poor forms. But that 4-0 away win last time out from Essevee was as impressive so it’s tough to call.

Next sees 2 teams who finally got off the mark last time out. Lokeren host Eupen in what could already prove to be a relegation 6 pointer. The positive for Eupen in my opinion is that they can score a goal, especially now with Mbaye Leye. The problem is, and always have been that they can’t keep them out. That could work in Lokeren’s favour. Scoring their first 3 goals last weekend in a huge win against neighbours Beveren, they’ll hope Samy Kehli will pull the strings again and provide some more chances!

The other Saturday fixtures sees an inspired Sint Truiden welcome, what could be a now toothless Beveren, whilst Genk vs Mechelen round off the Saturday matches. Firstly, De Kanaries will hope to carry on with their magnificent form against Beveren where, without Ryota Morioka, we don’t know where they could eventually end up. The Japanese has been brilliant and has done a bit of a Yuya Kubo in hitting the ground running. But against Sint Truiden, it could be an uphill task for Beveren if I’m honest.

The other match, surprisingly in the Limburg area at the same time, is De Smurfen against De Kakkers. Both teams desperate for a win to kick start their season. Okay, we know Genk have won, but their home form has been patchy, seeing as they haven’t won at the Luminus Arena yet. However, Mechelen haven’t won at all and that last minute loss to Antwerp must’ve stung, especially when Laszlo Bölöni said it probably should’ve been a draw last time out. This will probably be another draw, as I feel an away win will be a shock for me at least.

Sunday could be a cracker. We kick off with European rejects Club Brugge who domestically have been outstanding, but abroad have been useless. Out of Europe completely after last night’s defeat to AEK Athens, they’ll hope they can bounce back against Standard Liege. Talking of bouncing back, Liege will be desperate to get their season back on track. Two defeats in a row, no goals scored. A couple of red cards. Ricardo Sa Pinto will need to rejuvenate his squad. Recent signing Carlinhos may help lift some spirits and add some quality. The problem for Les Rouches is that they’re playing the best team in the league right now, regardless of how they perform out of the country.

Now…Anderlecht, drawn in an horrendous Champions League group, will hope to actually crack on this season. René Weiler needs to lift spirits right now to breed confidence into this side. An awful 3-2 defeat at home to STVV and a poor away defeat to Charleroi the week before, Les Mauves fans will really need to be a bit more switched on and ruthless too. Minor rant over, time for Gent. Poor…poor…poor! Hit a new low last time out with 3-2 defeats, a red card and that’s before I’ve mentioned a 2 goal head start at half time. I do think that Anderlecht will take this one. Gent seem so out of sorts I just can’t see a result for De Buffalos at all. Players suspended or injured doesn’t help, but excuses can only go on for so long.

And finally… Oostende. Currently the worst team in the league say hello to Antwerp. De Kustboys have been worse than Gent. That’s how bad they’ve been! Losing to Mouscron, Beveren and Eupen so far, the great thing is that Belgian football isn’t played on paper otherwise they’d probably have 9 points. Key players returning to the setup this week, especially Knowledge Musona, Oostende will hope the same Antwerp side who played Genk will turn up Sunday night. However, Antwerp have been equally as good, if not better than Mouscron and STVV in their own way. Easily the trickiest start out of all Pro League clubs, they’ve been magnificent. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a draw when it’s all said and done.

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m Worried with One Week to Go!

In one week, the transfer window slams shut for another summer and I was going to write this last night, but Family Guy and American Dad prevented me. Then I wake up to the reason for why I was contemplating this blog post with a week left. With the Belgian League almost a month old, even with 5 matchdays completed compared to other countries. Other leagues may begin to poach players as Pro League players are raring to go.

I’ve woken up to the news that Stoke City are bidding a reported£8.5 million for Club Brugge defender Bjorn Engels. Without sounding selfish, it doesn’t bother me if Pro League players move within the country, because we want quality within the league, like Zinho Gano moving to Oostende for example. But if players leave the league altogether then we have to start again. Engels going to Stoke doesn’t bother the Potters in one way, and I’ll explain.

If you’re Brugge, Gent and Oostende, even though tonight Club Brugge can complete the hat trick of Belgian clubs out of Europe, their players leaving the league for Europa or Champions League clubs are unlikely due to being cup tied. However, the lure of Ligue 1 or the Premier League right now may be too strong. Considering Kalifa Coulibaly and Jose Izquierdo have gone to Nantes and Brighton respectively, these clubs aren’t always guaranteed top flight status come May. Other examples include El Ghannasy and Stef Peeters also moving south east to France as well with clubs that are mid level.

But instead of focusing on those who have moved, think about those who haven’t. Tony Pulis recently said that every player has his prices when Manchester City considered a move for Jonny Evans. As money talks, in Belgium, every player certainly has his price. With bigger wages in England, or elsewhere, clubs can’t resist a transfer fee from these countries. I know I said I’ll focus on who’s still in Belgium, but when Youri Tielemans moves to Monaco for a pitiful £20 million (I think) then you know any money can buy anyone in Belgium as they are that far off the pace in Europe by some distance.

For example, in one way or another, the entire Genk squad is up for grabs. If Timothy Castagne can go Atalanta, who over achieved last season, the Pozuelo, Samatta and Trossard would also be good elsewhere. Especially Siebe Scrijvers! Then you have Yohan Boli who has hit the ground running scoring poachers goals and lifting Sint Truiden up the table! Mats Rits could be another. Already had a taste of a bigger club and I really rate him. With Zulte Waregem not playing in European competition just yet, and the way they’ve played in the league, any of their players are up for grabs too. The list goes on…

And that’s my worry. When you have players earning good money and they’re happy, that’s all fine. When they get offered a 5 year deal with a pay rise and signing on fee with job security for them and their family, that’s when you have to slightly panic. A footballers career is short, and unless theirs things beyond the pitch, like Mbaye Leye with his media work, then there’s no guarantee where these players will end up. But with their wages doubled or tripled in France, Italy, Germany or England, then every summer, and Belgium has always had this, we’ll run the risk of losing top talent, just in this window, maybe we’ve lost more than we thought…

(All Pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Back in Time

Back in Time: Cercle Brugge 1929/30

I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.

After the weekend Cercle had, I didn’t know whether this would cheer them up as they were champions of Belgium, and they have been three times, or it’ll upset them knowing there was once better times in an era the majority of fans never existed in. A time where, in 3 calender years, Cercle Brugge were the best in Belgium twice.

To actually dig out information on this team was difficult. There are of course sites where facts are, or what I’ve decided as facts, but it was actually typing in the correct words on any search engine to find this information. Not just simply ‘Cercle Brugge 1929/30’. But once I found out, other than the basic search which isn’t difficult to find, Cercle’s last ever season as champions was a tight one, winning the league by one point from Antwerp! And the league, in the surface, looks weird compared to nowadays. Not just because there were just 14 teams, but a points tally of 37 points from 26 games never looks impressive. Obviously I know back then it was just 2 points for a win.

What could make this win better is the turn of form from the 20s to the 30s, picking up around 50% more points in the run in, and what was most vital was the away win against Antwerp four matchdays from the end. If that were to even be a draw, the Great Old would’ve won the league on goal difference! What may also cheer up Cercle fans, is that they took 3 out of 4 points off of rivals Club Brugge, where Blauw-Zwart finished 6th back then, 10 points off of Cercle!

But what I do love about these posts, when I look back then, is loyalty to the clubs they played for. Finding information on players is never easy, especially from nearly 100 years ago, but out of the players I have found, they either just played for Cercle, played over ten years (or 20 years for a couple of them) or represented the club in other ways too. Looking down my list, it’s hard to say who is the bigger ‘legend’ but starting with Louis Baes. The defender spent 15 years at Cercle as a player and was twice coach too. Florimand Vanhalme also coached the club twice, as well as played 320 matches and scoring 33 goals in a 20 year span.

You also have Robert Braet who was a goalkeeper who started at 18 in the first team, played 20 years too at the club, is 6th in the all time list of appearances AND became chairman between 1967-1970. He also was the best in the country as he represented Belgium at the 1938 World Cup. Then you have four strikers, although Roger Proot had a lot in common with Braet, in that he doubled up as a goalkeeper. Proot spent 13 years at the club, winning 2 leagues and a cup as well as top scorer in 1931 and 1933. Alphonse Decorte also shared the top scorer at the club in 33, as well as winning the accolade in 1932, spending the entirety of his career at Cercle Brugge too.

Lastly, you have a couple of strikers who left their mark on Cercle Brugge. Firstly, Michel Vanderbauwhede, who spent 12 years at the club,also winning 2 leagues and a cup. He is fourth on the all time goalscorers list. And finally, Arthur Ruysschaert spent 18 years at Cercle and is the only player to be in the top 10 Cercle players regarding goals and appearances! He later became a youth coach and interim coach.

This club will live forever at the club as possibly the last to ever win the league for the club. Football is ciclical and maybe one day, Cercle will come!e again, but until then, the 7-1 at the weekend will need to be revenged this coming weekend as the club strive to get back to the top flight!

Posted in Matches in Brief

This is Why I Love the Pro League

Sorry Anderlecht and Gent fans, but everyone loves an underdog story. Kortrijk could’ve provided a hat trick, but more of that later. Sint Truiden and Mouscron put in performances where people in England who never watch Belgian football wouldn’t have seen it coming. But form right now saw both victors through to the end, battling and fighting for three vital points, where if their form comes to an end, this great start may help at the back end of the season.

STVV travelled to Brussels with a new, young manager hoping to ride the wave created by a last minute win last time out against Standard Liege. And with Massimo Bruno striking a fine looping volley past Lucas Pirard, maybe normality was restored in Belgium. But this is where Les Mauves fans may not read on…

Yohan Boli, the king of the back post tap in, struck again courtesy of some lax defending. Then, Mats Sels saved a penalty (still in the first half) where Anderlecht do currently look out of sync. The second got a whole lot better for the underdog, as new signing Jonathan Legear wanted the finish more, tapping in from 3 yards out. Then Legear turned provider swinging a back post cross to, yeah that’s right, Boli, to make it 3-1! Lukasz Teodorczyk grabbed a goal with 5 minutes left, but was too little. Anderlecht lost for the second week in a row, whereas Jonas De Roeck proved how good he may well be with a day to remember for him.

Skipping the middle match for now, Gent were hoping to get their first win of the season in all competitions, and goals from Brecht Dejaegere and possibly goal of the week by Mamadou Sylla saw De Buffalos take a 2-0 lead against Mouscron at Le Canonnier. However, Samuel Gigot saw red for, to me, a straightforward challenge. Very harsh in my opinion.

With 10 vs 11 in the hosts favour, could Mouscron grab their 3rd win this unpredictable season and their first at home? Well, Mouscron’s man of the match helped out immensely! That man was…Gent goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic! Firstly, his horrendous headed clearance fell to in form Dimitri Mohamed who’s measured lob found the net. Then Omar Govea hit a fine effort for his second long range goal in 2 matches at home (to be fair, Kalinic did look unsighted). Before the come back of all come backs were completed! A penalty from Jonathan Bolongi wrapped it up. It could’ve been an own goal from a penalty as Kalinic’s save went everywhere, somehow, until it went in.

A Gent side missing key players and a harsh red card for Gigot may not help things, but a strong defensive display, plus 100% concentration for just 45 minutes. Forty five minutes! I’d be travelling back home livid if I were a Gent fan knowing that the players just haven’t stepped up. I won’t continue with Gent as I wrote a piece the other week, but what’s going on at the Ghelamco Arena?

Lastly this Sunday, Club Brugge continued their fine domestic form away against a progressing Kortrijk side under Yannis Anastasiou. But in the first half, a cool finish from the penalty spot by Jelle Vossen (again) set Blauw-Zwart on their way. In the second half, a Lior Rafaelov cut back found a free Abdoulaye Diaby settled the result frankly. Jovan Stojanovic set up another Pro League grandstand finish with a goal 20 minutes from time, but with Brugge’s resolve, they’re looking incredibly good right now. Almost unstoppable.

But with another week over, we’ve learned that on their day, anyone can beat anyone. Ask Mouscron, Sint Truiden, Eupen and Antwerp fans. Brilliant weekend for all four of those as the league is beginning to take shape in the weirdest of ways…

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Matches in Brief

Les Zèbres Have Done it Again!

Four matches took place last night, and I was going to write this out last night, but I was absolutely knackered. This has been my only release from work recently, and thankfully, the Pro League hasn’t disappointed. With only one team on zero points, and it’s surprised me who that is, 2 teams grabbing their first wins, players scoring on their full debut and one team, who’ll I’ll start with, still has maximum points!

Charleroi have, again, managed to get 3 points in their amazing start to the season. I did think with a start against Kortrijk and Mouscron, those results would be comprehensive, but with the starts those 2 have had, they’ve been big 3 points in each. Then having Anderlecht and now Genk. Charleroi have been great in that they’ve kept 3 clean sheets out of those 4 matches and have shown battling qualities, which have brought luck too.

And that luck was shown yesterday. After a goalless first half, a throw in on the far side seemed to just carry…and carry, scuttling across the box for somebody to deal with until it deflected towards the goal. Firstly, I saw a notification it was Kaveh Rezaei with his first goal. I also saw it was an unfortunate own goal by Sander Berge. Regardless, Felice Mazzu was left smiling at the final whistle with another win!

Next were two teams at the other end of the scale. Eupen and Oostende were still pointless, and before yesterday, one was goalless too. For those who read these posts often, I do get my predictions wrong. I get the occasional one right, like Mbaye Leye being the perfect fit for Eupen, but I also said yesterday wouldn’t be his day. Unsurprisingly I was wrong there! This match was, for me, remembered for 3 fantastic assists, although the finishes were very decent too. Nine minutes in and Mbaye Leye powerfully headed home a great cross from Luis Garcia. Fantastic start for the Pandas.

Around thirty minutes later though, Michiel Jonckheere smartly half volleyed an equaliser after a knock down from 12 yards out, setting up a tense second half for both teams, eager for their first win. And somebody did grab that win. A superb through ball by Jean Amani cut through De Kustboys defence like a hot knife through butter and Eric Ocansey smartly finished to seal Eupen’s first win of the season. A tough start for Eupen where they’ve finally chipped away and got their first win. Oostende on the other hand could feel worried. No wins. One goal. Not the difficult start people would’ve thought before the season. Has European elimination knocked their confidence? Granted they are missing big players, but is Eupen away that much of a test?

Then to the Freethiel where the goal pigs sat and enjoyed, especially if you’re a Lokeren fan. A 3-0 half time lead would’ve had Peter Maes crowing at half time. Beveren have been great, up to this point, and with a toothless Lokeren coming to town, they’d have fancied their chances before kick off. Goals from Stefano Matzo, Marko Miric and Mehdi Terki, with a couple of assists thrown in by Samy Kehli for good measure, the match looked over.

Some inspirational words from Phillipe Clement must’ve been spoken,as Beveren didn’t give up. Ibrahima Seck pulled one back just before the hour. Then, Rudy Camacho struck with 20 minutes left to set up a fantastic finish. Ryota Morioka seemed to pick up 2 assists of his own, showing what a quality signing he has been so far too. But the come back wasn’t enough as Lokeren held out for a first win of the season. Beveren, who have been great so far this season will hope to bounce back this week, and maybe invest in a new striker this week, whereas Lokeren will aim to continue down the same road they were on this week to get to this win.

Lastly, to the AFAS Stadion where I was hoping for a good game first, and hopefully a performance from my Player Profile Stefan Drazic (who was subbed around the hour mark) but it took until the 67th minute when a Frederic Duplus deflected effort looped over the despairing Colin Coosemans into the top corner. Antwerp were looking good heading into the final minutes, but, setback happened when youngster Boureima Bande hit the killer blow, equalising, and swinging the pendulum back in Mechelen’s favour with three minutes left. Although to my surprise, the Great Old weren’t giving up, and Faris Haroun hot the winner! Ninety minutes on the clock when the 32 year old hit a big winner! Again, you can’t be anything but impressed with Antwerp’s resolve after last week’s poor performance against Genk, whereas Mechelen lose their first win and lose their first match in the process too.

Another great weekend in Belgium so far, including the fantastic 4-0 Friday night win by Zulte Waregem away to Standard Liege.

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Matches in Brief

Every Game Means Something this Weekend

To anyone who reads this, and let’s be honest, I’d be lucky if 1 person does. Let’s have it right, I enjoy writing, but who enjoys reading?!? Mini rant over, every match does seem to have something riding on it. Apologies to Standard Liege and Zulte Waregem fans for not including their match in a pre summary but I was in London today. A post match summary, in short, fantastic performance from Essevee with a 4-0 away win and Onur Kaya looks to add goals to his assists this season, hopefully for Francky Dury.

Now, in order. Let’s begin with Genk-Charleroi. One team gained a striker this week, whereas the other lost one. Charleroi have lost David Pollet to Turkey, like most of the Pro League whenever I see where a player has gone, which is unbelievable. But Charleroi have been great. A magnificent home win last week keeping their 100% record, whereas the hosts finally got off the mark with a swashbuckling win away at Antwerp. Big match to kick off the weekend with goals definitely on the agenda at the Luminus Arena!

Following that is a Zinho Gano-less Beveren, hoping that that won’t affect them, against pointless and goalless Lokeren, where Peter Maes will hope to have put his stamp on the side this week. Beveren have been great. Really, I mean I didn’t expect such a fine start. Lokeren on the other hand have disappointed me. Loads of fresh faces and good players too, but the gelling of this side is still yet to happen. Personally, I think this could be something like a 2-2 draw, but I’m always wrong!

At the same time, the other two pointless clubs contest for their first points of the season. Eupen welcome Oostende where, in short, I can only see an away win. Both with new strikers, the likelihood of Zinho making the difference is greater than Mbaye Leye, not saying that the Senegalese won’t !Ake his mark on the side though since his arrival.

Lastly on Saturday, Mechelen, with my PP Stefan Drazic, host Antwerp, looking for a response, and most likely, a tighter defence. For my Player Profile, I’m hoping for goals, especially if Tim Matthys performs like he did last weekend, but Antwerp in my opinion would love a 0-0 if I’m honest, and try and put some confidence back into that defence?

Sunday will come quicker than we’ll know it, and 3 HUGE matches end the week for us. Anderlecht definitely can’t wait so that they may just get their season on track. Sint Truiden with Jonas De Roeck will have their toughest test (mainly because they’re at the champions) but with a good 1-0 win at home against Standard last week, it’s good in the surface, but with 9 men and a calamitous bit of defending which Yohan Boli capitalised from, I have a feeling Les Mauves will win.

Now. Kortrijk, who I’ve shown some love to this week, play Club Brugge who are the Kortrijk of last season, but between domestic and European football. Christophe Lepoint has been on point this season, however, Dennis Bonaventure has been nothing short of amazing. An inspired signing who may lift Blauw-Zwart to the title with his incredible form. However, I actually believe this could be a tough one to call…

Finally, Mouscron, who have also been fantastic, face a Gent side still looking for their first win. Kalifa Coulibaly left for Nantes which takes some goals out of the side, and other players really need to step up for De Buffalos. I do feel Gent will snatch a win here though. Mouscron could surprise us a few times this season, but without being too predictable, I just feel Gent will be too strong on the night.