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.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Goals Galore at the BosuilStadion as the Champions Slip

After a raft of fantastic away performances so far this weekend, along with dreadful defending, Genk, Anderlecht and Standard were hoping to continue the trend! 

And starting at the Bosuil, fans were treated to 8 goals! De Smurfen were hoping to finally bag their first win of the campaign and they had this match wrapped up by half time. Mbwana Samatta, Leandro Trossard and a fine individual run and finish from Siebe Schrijvers raced the team from Limburg into a 3-0 lead! Before you could catch your breath,  Joeri Dequevy pulled a goal back. So 3-1 and just over a quarter of the match played! This is where Albert Stuivenberg felt better, when Samatta doubled his tally on the day.

Antwerp had a mountain to climb, and the match was basically sealed and sewn up when Arslanagic put the ball into his own net making it 5-1. The Great Old rallied and never gave up with a late surge scoring through Owusu and Arslanagic atoning for his earlier own goal, but it was too little too late. I personally think this is positive for Antwerp to stop complacency further down the line, whereas Genk will feel better claiming their first win of the campaign.

Next up saw Charleroi host Anderlecht. A match where either Charleroi would lose their 100% record, or Anderlecht will continue to splutter this season. Splutter maybe harsh, but Les Mauves haven’t shown the style that won them the title last season. 

After a goalless first half however, it was Charleroi who hit the front. Ten minutes into the second half Amara Baby rasped the ball past Mats Sels from the edge of the box into the roof of the net at the front post. Anderlecht on the back foot. Could Rene Weiler get a response of champions? 

In short…no. Peruvian Cristian Benavente scored an even better individual effort than Schrijvers. Beating 3 defenders before slotting past Sels, sneaking it in at the far post. Brilliant result for Charleroi as they keep pace with Brugge at the top, whereas Anderlecht haven’t found their stride just yet…

Lastly, Sint Truiden welcomed Standard Liege to the Staaien in the first match since Tintin Marquez. Another goalless first half (which I missed) was followed by a scrappy second half (of what I’ve seen because I have an 18 month old boy scrambling around my apartment!) but with the snippets I was allowed to see, Ochoa was certainly the busier out of the two keepers! 

With five minutes to go, Collins Fai saw his second yellow card, where in honesty, I thought it may have been a bit harsh, but could STVV take advantage of this? Well, the task was possibly made easier, as Orlando Sa saw a straight red by kicking out. VAR worked so well in truth as Sint Truiden took the lead. Again, woeful defending as there was a mix up from a cross and from 2 yards out, Yohan Boli nodded home.

Standard Liege. The curators of their own downfall through wasted chances and ill discipline saw De Kanaries take a lead that they would hold onto. A fine win in the end, no matter how and late it happened.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Anybody Fancy Defending?

I have decided to post this blog now rather than this morning because firstly, hopefully someone will read it and because it could still be fresh in the morning right? Anyway, the title is self explanatory when you look at some of the goals scored in the Belgian Pro League today.

And starting with the last match at the Versluys Arena, Oostende gifted 3 goals to Beveren frankly. To sum up, Silvio Proto who is an experienced and still a decent goalkeeper, basically bounced the ball onto Nana Ampomah’s head before he stuck the ball into an empty net. Then Zinho Gano got on the scene, firstly dispossessing the Oostende defender and slotting the ball just inside the post, and then from a cleared corner, the ball came back in where it was a 4 vs 1 in favour of De Kustboys, and Gano nodded home.

Beveren ran out 3-0 winners and were of course 3-0 up at half time. This is truly embarrassing and poor from Oostende. I genuinely feel sorry for the fans where their jubilation of last season has just been sucked out of them. No wins in any competition and have just faultered unbelievably. On the other hand, all credit to Phillipe Clement and Beveren who have 5 points so far and have looked very good in every match so far!

The other ‘heroes’ in my opinion are Mouscron. Finding their highlights have been near on impossible unfortunately for me, but a goal in each half from Taiwo Awoniyi and Dimitri Mohamed saw off Lokeren. What a terrible start Lokeren have had too! Goalless and on their second manager of the season already! Peter Maes hasn’t hit the ground running and if they’re demolished next weekend against Beveren, which is possible, will he suffer the same fate as Rùnar Kristinsson? Highly unlikely, which I still feel uncomfortable about if I’m honest.

The Tricolores will have to be without Koen Persoons too who saw 2 yellows, and of course 2 lemons make a strawberry. I had my doubts about Mouscron this pre season, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The club have shown real determination to succeed this season, so far anyway, and 6 points out of mine is a fantastic return already!

Kortrijk travelled to Eupen where the cream rose to the top. De Kerels ran out 2-1 winners, and if Eupen were better defensively, again, it could’ve been a totally different story. Van Crombrugge let a tame effort from Jovan Stojanovic sneak in at the front post late in the first half. Then with one ball straight down the middle of the pitch, Teddy Chevalier looped a sumptuous lob over the keeper to wrap up the game in the second half. Jordan Loties scored a diving header from a corner to halve the deficit, but it was too little too late. With sackings all the rage already this season, will Jordi Condom see out this week? Let alone this season?!? Kortrijk yet again go from strength to strength, building from last week’s victory.

In the first match of the evening, a 1-1 draw took place at the AFAS Stadion. Gent took the lead through a Samuel Kalu finish 3 yards out, after good work from Kalifa Coulibaly down the left. But with time running out, a simple set piece routine caught out De Buffalos, and Tim Matthys (thank you for the like on Twitter Tim) struck a venomous effort into the bottom corner. The pure definition of a daisy cutter! Gent finally get a point on the board whereas Mechelen maintain their 100% draw record. Both teams do however seem to be petrified to lose, so any points will do right now!

Last night saw the top 2 battle at the Regenboogstadion where the Blauw-Zwart came out on top. Goals from Emma Dennis Bonaventure (who else) and a Jelle Vossen penalty sealed the away win. Zulte rallied and hit back through Aaron Leya Isaka with plenty of time left, but regardless of what players were saying on twitter about VAR, Brugge have maintained their 100% record. I truly believed Ivan Leko may not have been fit to lead Club Brugge this season, but so far he has definitely proved me wrong! Just a minor setback for Zulte Waregem who have been great so far, a blip along the long, loooong road of this season.

Posted in Matches in Brief

Match Day 3 Run Down

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.

Posted in Matches in Brief

One Goal Can Make all the Difference

Today has seen some real quality in regards to taking that chance and then holding onto what you have (unless you’re Eupen) but even then…well, I’ll get into that later. But four of last season’s top 6 we’re in action, with 3 of those unfortunately disappointing in Europe as well in midweek.

And talking of disappointing, Gent welcomed Antwerp to the Ghelamco Arena. A lovely sunny day where the sun shines on the righteous. And that applies to Royal Antwerp who have been fantastic without being extravagant. One goal in two matches, but those two matches were against 66.666…% of last season’s top three. And this is where one goal makes the difference. Reda Jaadi intercepting a lose ball and with his second touch, finishing with devastating style.

And that was that for the Great Old, where right now, Gent are royally stinking out the place at home and in Europe. This season already is one where De Buffalos would love to unsafe, restart until they get their season well and truly going. Nobody is taking charge right now and it’s too early to look at the manager. Then again, all credit has to go to Antwerp who are fully riding the crest of the wave since promotion!

A few hours later, Sofiane Hanni showed how vital he really is to Anderlecht. Netting the winner against Oostende, follow an initial Henry Onyekuru effort. The Algerian, in my opinion, may not last til either the end of this month, or certainly won’t be at Les Mauves at this point next season. He really is a top player in everyone’s eyes surely, and this won’t be the last time this season where his presence and leadership will be the key factor between one point and three! The champions did however deserve the win regardless anyway. But the clubs first three points will be a big relief!

Lastly, Club Brugge bucked the trend as they were 3-1 winners at the Jan Breydel Stadion. Before I started this it was 2-1 and I thought that would be that, but a late red card for Siebe Blondelle and an Abdoulay Diaby goal changed everything, at least in this post!

But before all of that, it was in fact Eupen who took the lead. I mentioned in the first paragraph that Eupen ruined the ‘taking your chance and holding onto it’ as we all know they didn’t, but an extremely deep run from Diawandou Diagne, almost Forrest Gump-esque and capped it off with a sweet, low drive under the keeper to give the Pandas the lead!

However, another penalty conceded in the Pro League was converted by Jelle Vossen before half time maybe changed the complex of the match. It took til the 65th minute where the fantastic Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure scored a fantastic goal, striking across his body diagonally past Hendrik Van Crombrugge. So 3-1 for the Blauw-Zwart, Club Brugge maintain their 100% record, second to Zulte Waregem on goal difference.

I honestly thought I’d pine for Youri Tielemans and Nany Dimata this season, but nothing of the sort has happened. Two matches in and with Oostende, Gent and Genk stuttering, this could be a fantastic season ahead!

Posted in Matches in Brief

This Week has Gone Fast!

I was out yesterday wandering around, no cares, just casually going about my business. Had a nice meal last night in a Mexican restaurant and got back late, keeping abreast the Europa League results where, the less said the better. And then I realised it’s Friday today and I’ve given no thought to any Belgian football. The only thing I really took note of was Orlando Sa’s retweet from Standard Liege regarding Genk rocking up to the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.

And that’s where I’ll start, where tonight see’s a huge !arch early on this season. Both drawing their first matches after coming from behind in both, and with it being so early into the season, it can be tough to see where both teams are at. The fact they both didn’t crumble after going behind and won a point, I’m guessing the far more deflated will be De Smurfen who also threw away victory too. The likelihood of a home win is greater in my opinion.

Saturday see’s…hmmm…a lot less glamorous fixtures taking place. We begin with two teams where one will definitely lose their 100% record. Mouscron, who shocked me, welcome Les Zèbres to town. Both won 1-0 last time out, and maybe Charleroi were less convincing with an 11th minute penalty sealing a home win. Mouscron may well surprise us again, with Mircea Rednic bolstering his squad this week with at least 3 signings that come to mind.

Following this is Kortrijk vs Lokeren and Beveren vs Mechelen. To be honest, these are the sort of matches where, no offence, I write about but in honesty, am I bothered? But then it gets to full time and there’s been 8 goals like Roeselare – Mouscron last season. You’re pleasant surprised. To be fair, Beveren taking on Mechelen looks the more… appetising, but all four are looking for their first win and Lokeren are looking more at keeping the scoreline down to a respectable figure.

Saturday finally ends with table topping Zulte Waregem, who demolished a lackluster Eupen last weekend, taking on a spirited Sint Truiden who picked up an impress and late victory at home against Gent on the first weekend. Zulte will look to carry on their form, but it won’t be as simple as last time out, and I’m sure STVV won’t commit so many errors either.

Sunday sees the, no offence, European rejects come out and play. Gent will hope to see three points at home against promoted Antwerp. Gent have performed pretty poorly in all honesty. Out of Europe altogether, it makes you think if they weren’t in the Championship play off last season at Mechelen’s expense, maybe Mechelen would’ve performed better? We’ll never know, but they may not have done any worse. Antwerp will look to last weekend as a huge positive and a stepping stone as on paper, they have had the toughest start out of all the teams thus far.

Sandwiched in between Gent – Antwerp and the final match is Anderlecht against Oostende. De Kustboys will be without Sebastien Siani who is suspended and that is a big blow. Oostende were embarrassed last weekend with that defeat to Mouscron. No offence to REM but I didn’t see anything but an Oostende win. Anderlecht play their first home league match and will hope to do a lot better than last weekend!

Finally see’s Club Brugge host hapless Eupen. Brugge, who lost to Istanbul Basaksehir will maybe have the league as their relief. They seemed to treat Lokeren like that last week with a huge marker of a result and will hope Dennis Bonaventure will have his shooting boots on again! Eupen on the other hand would probably treat this as a ‘free match’ and will just hope they’re not too embarrassed again?

Posted in Matches in Brief

Week One is Done in the JPL 

Belgium football kicked it’s season off this weekend and Sunday, as in yesterday, saw a couple of results of raise some eyebrows and make you think that this season could be an unpredictable one. The majority of the top teams haven’t picked up maximum points and the main reason is most probably rustiness, but isn’t it great that a few people down the bookies were seen to have egg on their face.

Yesterday saw two matches that looked good on paper, and one that seemed a bit of a walkover. That’s what I believed, and I’m guessing many followed suit. And a good looking fixture saw Mechelen welcome Standard Liege which was settled in the opening 10 minutes. A goal from summer signing Stefan Drazic was immediately cancelled out by the reliable Orlando Sa. It seemed a must not lose rather than a must win, as both teams eased themselves into the upcoming Pro League season.

Secondly, we saw Sint Truiden, under the management of Tintin Marquez hosted Gent who probably had both eyes on the Altach match rather than the match at the Staaien. But De Buffalos took the lead through Franko Andrijasevic six minutes before the break. Thereafter, the Charlton Athletic connection came into play. Igor Vetokele equalised before Cristian Ceballos completed the turnaround with around 20 minutes to go!

However, Gent never gave up and scored an equaliser of their own through Samuel Gigot 3 minutes later, pegging back De Kanaries! Fifteen minutes left, you’d feel the imputus and quality would be with the visitors, but with the freshness of STVV, Cristian Ceballos stole the show, as the Spaniard netted a winner just before stoppage time! Gent already pegged back and a fantastic win for Sint Truiden who have lost some real quality over the summer.

Lastly, this was the match where you felt it’d be one way traffic, and some stats proved that to be right. But with a goalless first half, Mouscron would’ve taken a draw before the match. I was speaking during the week and I haven’t given the team any hope for survival. Thankfully though, my opinion counts for nothing in Belgian football, especially on the pitch, and Congolese striker Jonathan Bolongi struck midway through the second half. And that was that. A fantastic win and already a vital one for Mouscron. Sebastien Siani saw red too as De Kustboys lost their discipline late on in a poor home defeat to open their league season.

I would’ve posted this earlier but with other things going on around me, I still felt I had to write this for Mouscron. A fine win for a team where they do show they have it when the chips are down. Just ask Westerlo. 

Posted in Matches in Brief

This is What We’ve Been Waiting For!

Belgium football has come back with a bang, and not just because of the results. Actually, that’s exactly why there’s a bang! It’s Saturday night and five matches have come and gone so far this season, with four of last season’s top six kicking us off. And I’ll get back to the curtain raiser at the end.

But we’ll kick off with quite a magnificent display of attacking play, clinical play and bounce back ability. Club Brugge travelled to the Daknamstadion where I thought this could be a banana skin for the Blauw-Zwart. But Ivan Leko gets paid to do and know more than me. Resting some key players, Dennis Bonaventure was outstanding on his Pro League debut for Club Brugge. Brandon Mechele opened the scoring though before a brace by the young Nigerian. Twenty four minutes played and 3-0. Could anything go wrong? 

Well yes. Helibelton Palacios saw a straight red just after the half hour, possibly making a game of it in the second half. But unfortunately…that didn’t happen. An own goal by Marko Miric five minutes before the hour sealed a comfortable win and proving me wrong in a couple of ways. Yes, it is only Lokeren, but these are the matches Brugge drew or lost last season and Leko has, so far, irradiated that. Also, I felt Rùnar Kristinsson would have Lokeren firing rather than stalling, but it is only the first game.

And Eupen will be saying the same. Essevee arrived at the Kehrweg Stadion and were more impressive than Brugge. A 5-0 scoreline, it goes to show that Eupen may be toothless up front this season and still haven’t dealt with how poor they can be defensively. A 5-0 defeat should be unacceptable in every way, especially at home. But a 1-0 half time lead courtesy of Davy de Fauw maybe wasn’t what you’d expect when you see the final score. 

Courtesy of Getty Images

After that, the Pandas capitulated. A Ivan Saponjic double, with a Nill De Pauw goal in between (his first competitive goal for the club) settled with a cherry on the icing of the cake by Sander Coopman settled the affair late on. Jordi Condom has a lot of work to do to Inspire rather than Aspire another Pro League bounce back from this major disappointment. Whereas Zulte Waregem need to continue this fine progress.

Then we head to the Luminus Arena, where Genk just couldn’t seem to get into gear, and Beveren struck at vital times! Olivier Myny netting just before the break, and Brazilian Zinho Gano scoring just after the break basic ruined Albert Stuivenberg’s team talk…and maybe mind?

But a fine 12 minute turnaround showed why Genk are real quality going forward. Firstly Jose Naranjo scored with 20 minutes to go! Then, the reliable Mbwana Samatta equalised ten minutes later to setup a grandstand finish! But just 2 minutes later, Siebe Scrijvers completed the turnaround superbly and set another title contender on their way! But maybe Phillipe Clement has instilled resilience into this side, and that reliable Brazilian Zinho Gano popped up in stoppage time to save a point! Another amazing game full of goals in Belgium.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Lastly on Saturday, Charleroi welcomed Kortrijk to the Stade du Pays De Charleroi. Kortrijk were very Jekyll and Hyde last term and would love some consistency this season. Although the loss of Idriss Saadi is a huge blow to De Kerels. Unlike the other matches played on Saturday night, this fixture bucked the trend as David Pollet dispatched an eleventh minute penalty to wrap up a win. End of the day it is three points, regardless of how emphatic they are gained!

Courtesy of Getty Images

On Friday night we saw the return of Antwerp to the top flight, against Champions Anderlecht! I singled out Sinan Bolat as my Player Profile, and putting in a man of the match performance, not only am I pleased with myself, I’m pleased for him, Antwerp and the league. Why the league? Because it can still have that unpredictable nature about it. A 0-0 where Les Mauves maybe should’ve taken more than a point, is what was taken from the night.

So with 16 goals in 5 matches, the football is back and raring to go. Onto Sunday!

Posted in Matches in Brief

It’s Back! The JPL is Finally Back!

Am I getting carried away? Slightly. But competitive league football in Belgique is back and I’m looking forward to it. Not saying those in Belgium aren’t of course, but I love football, England loves football and like most, those who love their club don’t mind the season ended, and then a day later the realisation of no football for 2 months kicks in.

This blog post may turn out to simply be a prediction post and I’ll end up saying how many results (rather than score lines) I managed to get right out of 10. Not all Belgian football is that predictable so I’ll definitely get a few, if not all incorrect!

But kicking off tonight sees the return of the oldest club in Belgium vs the most successful club, and current Pro League champions. I’ve written a PP about Sinat Bolat because it could be a tough one for him tonight with potentially the most devastating strike force in Belgium.

Tomorrow sees four matches that may look quite straightforward. In my honest opinion, I do see Zulte Waregem, Genk and Charleroi taking maximum points in their matches, maybe with Eupen vs Zulte being the most competitive. But Lokeren vs Club Brugge at the Daknamstadion could be a corker. Most likely a dull 0-0 will happen, but I don’t think Blauw-Zwart will win in all honesty. Could be the coupon buster!?!

On Sunday, this includes the Europa League sides, with Gent travelling to Sint Truiden and Oostende hosting Mouscron. Sorry, but I believe De Kustboys could just rip Mouscron apart if I’m honest. There’s a lot they can take away from the Marseille defeat. Gent travel to the Staaien disappointed from the draw against Altach, and I feel this could be tougher for De Buffalos.

Lastly, before all those matches on Sunday, possibly the game of the weekend involves Mechelen vs Standard Liege. I reckon Les Rouches could turn up and convincingly win on Sunday on Ricardo Sa Pinto’s first competitive match in charge, but Mats Rits does enjoy playing against Standard.

These are mainly predictions, along with my thoughts of certain…things? My mind’s gone totally blank. It’s the sun! Nevertheless, could be a cracking weekend of football in Belgium and it all starts tonight!