It hit me yesterday that as of Sunday night, 10% of the Pro League regular season would done with. We’re only in mid August and yeah I’m thinking ‘Why is the season going so fast!?!’. Bit of an exaggeration but if I didn’t think it were fair I wouldn’t have said it.
And starting with tonight there are two huge matches. Arsenal vs Leicester is one, but the one I’m focusing on here is the top of the table clash between Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge. Essevee top the table on goal difference but both have maximum points. Brugge will have to do it without Jose Izquierdo who has joined Brighton for a reported club record fee of £13.5 million. Even though he is a difference maker, there’s no surprise he has gone to pastures new and hasn’t actually played for Blauw-Zwart in the league yet. It Dennis Bonaventure who could be the difference tonight. Both would love maximum points but a draw may suit Brugge right now.
Saturday sees Mechelen host a Gent side who haven’t a point to their name. Mechelen have two draws in the bank so far, both coming from behind. De Buffalos would love to get off the mark though as they just seem to have stalled in every way. Mats Rits will again look to be the key in midfield, with Stefan Drazic being the winner for the home team, unless, well, who would you wanna name to step up for Gent? Kubo? Simon? Kalu? Could be a top match to kick off Saturday’s round of matches.
The last match on Saturday sees another winless team in Oostende welcome Beveren who drew with Mechelen last weekend and have exactly the same points tally. Both these teams are looking for their first wins of the season and with Beveren actual showing some real quality, drawing from the jaws of defeat…and victory, Waasland will hope if they’re in a promising position they’ll hold onto it. Oostende will probably just like a goal…and a clean sheet. Two 1-0 defeats have put them in a negative position so far. Last week against Anderlecht could’ve been predicted, but losing to Mouscron at home certainly wasn’t. The way Belgian football has gone this week, it’s highly unlikely, but would a defeat for Oostende or Gent see the back of Hein Vanhaezebrouck or Yves Vanderhaeghe?
Squeezed between these two matches is Eupen at home to Kortrijk and Lokeren vs Mouscron. Two matches where goals will certainly be scored. Firstly, because Eupen can’t keep a clean sheet, along with the fact they can score a goal, albeit they’ve only netted in one match, last week away to Club Brugge. Jordi Condom will hope Eupen can finally get off the mark in what could be a long and hard season. Kortrijk on the other hand have performed reasonably well in my opinion. A 1-0 win last time out saw the end of Rùnar Kristinsson’s reign at Lokeren and could it domthe same to Señor Condom?
And speaking of Lokeren, Peter Maes will look for goals at the Daknamstadion against Mouscron. Unfair on Kristinsson where this match could’ve been the springboard for Lokeren, but with Mouscron winning away at Oostende and losing at home to Charleroi, they’ve had a tough start, but a decent points haul so far in my opinion. It all depends on which Mouscron side wants to turn up on Saturday?
Sunday afternoon kicks us off with one of the matches of the weekend. Antwerp who have been magnificent so far have another tough test, at home to Genk. De Smurfen haven’t really got going so far, drawing at home and losing away, taking the lead at some point in both matches too. Antwerp who have had such a tough start on paper will look to their togetherness and team spirit, as well as quality to get them through this match at the Bosuilstadion. Genk will just hope to grab hold of the lead and look after it til the final whistle, no matter which minute that comes in!
The middle match on Sunday brings us Charleroi, another team on maximum points, against Champions Anderlecht. Les Zèbres will hope to gain top spot, depending on tonight’s match of course, whereas Anderlecht will want to keep in touch with the top three, even at this point of the season. The competitive nature of these league is great. Okay were only 2 matches in at the point I’ve written this, but the scrap for points early on is vital, especially against those who will most likely be around you come March, April and May.
Lastly, Sint Truiden host Standard Liege who will also hope to keep their unbeaten start and within touch of those around them. Whilst I’m writing this, STVV have apparently hired Jonas De Roeck as their manager. The Spaniard who spent his entire career in Belgium (except for three seasons at Augsburg) so he’ll know the Pro League exceptionally well. Without knocking De Roeck, which I’m not, I’m actually knocking the club. Is this the man they want? He will have ideas and at a point, an expansive system due to his age and that he’ll want to impress, but is this a hasty appointment? As hasty as the Marquez acquisition?
But back to match, unfortunately it could be a baptism of fire for Jonas, that’s if he’ll officially take charge this Sunday, against Les Rouches, who have been impressive under Ricardo Sa Pinto. A fantastic match to end another weekend of Belgian football, this could be the best of the lot at the Staaien…some how.