Less than two weeks after the end of the Euro and while the Olympic Games will officially begin a few hours later, the Belgian football championship will already be launched on Friday at 8:45 p.m. The unofficial start of the new season was given last Sunday, with the Supercopa, won 3-2 by defending champion Club Brugge, over Genk, winner of the Cup and runner-up to Brugge in the league. These two clubs are likely to play the leading roles again this year.
Brugge presents itself with a workforce practically unchanged from last season, but will have to start its season without Hans Vanaken, who played in the Euro, and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, injured. In the Super Cup, Philippe Clement’s troops have shown that they have not lost any of their effectiveness, with Clinton Mata and Noa Lang in particular already very lively. The Bruges coach took the opportunity to launch several youngsters, such as goalkeeper Senne Lammens (19) and midfielder Noah Mbamba (16).
Genk was more active in the transfer window, with the arrivals of Mike Trésor Ndayashimiye, Mujaid Sadick, Simen Jukleröd or even Carel Eiting. Unless the transfer window changes the situation, the Limburgers will always rely on the formidable attacking trio Junya Ito-Paul Onuachu-Théo Bongonda.
The fight for Europe
In the second row, we find the other two clubs which took part in the Champions playoffs, Anderlecht and Antwerp. Vincent Kompany has certainly lost Albert Sambi Lokonga, but he has seen the reigning Golden Boot, Lior Refaelov, a defender through Serie A and the Premier League like Wesley Hoedt (ex-Antwerp) and the unpredictable land at Neerpede. Benito Raman, as well as a young Spaniard, Sergio Gomez. Fourth place last season represents a good base and gives the people of Brussels confidence.
Third last year, Antwerp is the only club in the last playoffs to have changed coaches. The new Bosuil strongman is named Brian Priske. The ‘Great Old’ managed to attract Michel-Angel Balikwisha and bring Birger Verstraete and Björn Engels back to Belgium. The attack will have to be reconstructed, after the departures of Refaelov and Dieumerci Mbokani. Author of 12 goals last season at Waasland-Beveren, Switzerland’s Michael Frey will be one of the men responsible for compensating for these departures.
Mbaye Leye’s Standard simply haven’t registered a single transfer yet, as they have lost Balikwisha and Zinho Vanheusden. In financial difficulties, the Standard must more than ever count on its academy to make Sclessin vibrate.
The Zebras on the revival
Charleroi was more active, with the arrival of goalkeeper Hervé Koffi, Stefan Knezevic from Stelios Andreou and Adem Zorgane, who has yet to join Belgium. The Zebras, who remain on a difficult season, bet on the youth, both on the field and on the bench, where Edward Still, 30, will have his first experience as a head coach.
The Ghent and Ostend, revelation of last season, will try to play spoilers in the race for the playoffs.
Among the attractions of the season are undoubtedly the returns of the derbies in Brussels and Liège thanks to the two promoted, the Union Saint-Gilloise and Seraing.
Inevitably, the promoted ones think first and foremost about staying among the elite. But by keeping Felice Mazzu on the bench and adding Felipe Avenatti to a attacking duo Dante Vanzeir-Denis Undav who has shaken the nets of the 1B Pro League 36 times, the Union shows it has no plans to do so. a brief stint in the Jupiler Pro League.
Seraing, the little Thumb
Seraing, for his part, changed coach, Jordi Condom succeeding Emilio Ferrera, and lost his striker Georges Mikautadze. The two teams will be able to draw inspiration from the example of Oud-Heverlee Louvain and Beerschot, authors of an excellent season as promoted, the two clubs remaining even a good part of the season at the top of the table.
The format of the championship remains the same as last year: a regular season of 34 days at the end of which the first four play in the Champions playoffs for the title, the clubs classified from fifth to eighth place play to try to win the last European ticket, the last is relegated to 1B Pro League and the penultimate play-off against the second in 1B.