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Belgian First Division 2020/2021 season preview Football

Belgian league switches to 18-team format

Belgium was one of the first countries to end the 2019/20 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, awarding Club Brugge their 16th league title and relegating Waasland-Beveren. However, following appeals from Waasland-Beveren and a court ruling that ordered the reinstatement of a demoted team, the coming championship has changed its format for the next two seasons, switching to a 18-team competition.

Waasland-Beveren took the case to court, arguing that it could have stayed among the elite if the season had not been cut short, and the league was ordered to reinstate the club in the toplight. A failure to do so would have resulted in a penalty of €2.5m for every match played without Waasland-Beveren.

The topflight season was initially planned with 16 teams, including the winner of the second division playoff between Leuven and Beerschot. But to avoid a complex 17-team format both will now play in the top division in addition to Waasland-Beveren. Matches will be played behind closed doors at until the end of August.

  • Champions: Club Brugge (Champions League group stage)
  • Runners-up: Gent (Champions League QR3)
  • Third place: Charleroi (UEFA Europa League QR3)
  • Fourth place and Cup winners: Royal Antwerp (UEFA Europa League group stage )
  • Fifth place: Standard Liege (UEFA Europa League QR2)
  • Relegated: -
  • Promoted: Leuven
TeamTitles15/1617/1817/1818/1919/20
Anderlecht3421368
Club Brugge1612121
Standard10109235
Beerschot7-----
Genk448517
Antwerp4--1244
Mechelen410716-6
Cercle Brugge3---1314
Beveren21314151516
Gent133452
Zulte Waregem-667119
Kortrijk-7109811
Charleroi-85693
Oostende-54131415
Mouscron-1215111010
Sint-Truiden-141210712
Eupen--13141213
Leuven-16----

The number of titles since 1896. Cercle Brugge - the Belgian champions 1911, 1927 and 1930. Beerschot, the Belgian champions 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1928, 1938, and 1939, merged into Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen (GBA), now Beerschot.

Standard appoint Philippe Montanier as their new coach

Standard Liege named Philippe Montanier as their new coach this summer, replacing Michel Preud'homme. The 55-year-old Montanier, a former goalkeeper like Preud'homme, previously coached in France and Spain. He led Real Sociedad to a fourth-place finish in La Liga in 2013. Financial terms of the deal and the length of Montanier's contract were not disclosed. Preud'homme, a product of Standard's youth system, will stay at the club as vice-president.

Paul Clement is the new coach of Cercle Brugge

Former Derby County boss Paul Clement has been named new coach of Cercle Brugge. The Brit worked with Carlo Ancelotti for years and had big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic under his wing. He already has a decorated track record as an assistant at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but as head coach he has a lot less experience. Clement admits he takes the job knowing very little about his new club.

This page contains additional information about the 2020/2021 Belgian First Division season. Latest news, statistics, results and predictions you can find on our main Euro Football > Belgium page.

Muscat appointed head coach of Sint-Truiden

Kevin Muscat has been named head coach of Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Pro League, making him the only Australian head coach of a men's team in Europe. It is Muscat's first head coaching role outside of Melbourne Victory, and comes one year after his exit from the A-League club following a successful six-year tenure. After some time off from football, he moved to Belgium and was hired by Sint-Truiden as a football analyst initially because UEFA didn't recognise his AFC coaching licence.

Other coaching changes

Fernando Da Cruz, 48, replaces Bernd Hollerbach as Excel Mouscron coach, a job he had already occupied between January and June 2015. Oostende appointed the unknown and inexperienced Alexander Blessin, 47, as the new coach. The German was only a youth coach at RB Leipzig, but there he worked with young stars such as Timo Werner, Naby Keita and Ibrahima Konate. Nicky Hayen, 39, is the new head coach of Waasland-Beveren. He comes from Sint-Truiden, where he was a trainer with the youth team. Former Club Brugge boss Ivan Leko is the new head coach of Royal Antwerp.

TeamPtsGDW-D-L
1Brugge704421-7-1 (29)
2AA Gent552516-7-6 (29)
3Charleroi542615-9-5 (29)
4Antwerp531715-8-6 (29)
5Standard491514-7-8 (29)
6Mechelen44313-5-11 (29)
7Genk44313-5-11 (29)
8Anderlec.431611-10-8 (29)
9Mouscron36-29-9-11 (29)
10Waregem36-810-6-13 (29)
11Kortrijk33-49-6-14 (29)
12St.Truiden33-179-6-14 (29)
13Eupen30-238-6-15 (29)
14Cercle23-277-2-20 (29)
15Oostende22-296-4-19 (29)
16Beveren20-395-5-19 (29)

Belgian football league playoff standings for season 2019/2020

Bookmakers tip Club Brugge for Belgian title

Last year's runaway league leaders Club Brugge look the strongest again, although they lost last the final of last season's Belgian Cup 1-0 to Antwerp on August 1. Brugge have by far the biggest budget and retain retained the core of their team with Simon Mignolet in goal and Ruud Vormer and Hans Vanaken running midfield. Gent, a distant second last season, seem set to lose star striker Jonathan David to Lille, who are prepared to pay a club for a record €30m for the Canadian.

The two traditional giants of Belgian football, Standard Liege and Anderlecht, seemed mired in mediocrity. Anderlecht finished eight last season after the arrival of Vincent Kompany in the triple role of player-manager-investor did not have the desired effect. Before handing the coaching reins to Franky Vercauteren, Kompany put his faith in youth. The experiment failed but the youngsters start this season with much more experience.

TeamOddsTeamOdds
Club Brugge1.5St Truiden501
Gent5.5Eupen501
Anderlecht9Zulte Waregem501
Antwerp13Waasland-Beveren1001
Genk13Oud-Heverlee1001
Standard Liege17Mouscron1001
Charleroi101Oostende1001
Kortrijk251Mechelen1001
Cercle Bruges501Leuven1001

Preseason odds for the outright winner of the 2020/21 Belgian football league

Belgian Cup finals in last five years

2020   Royal Antwerp - Club Brugge   1:0
2019   Mechelen - Gent   2:1
2018   Standard - Genk   1:0   (aet)
2017   Zulte Waregem - Oostende   3:3   (4:2 on penalties)
2016   Standard Liege - Club Brugge   2:1

Key players
(transfer market value in m€)

Anderlecht

Goalkeeper Hendrik Van Crombrugge (5.5); Defense: Marco Kana (4.5), Vincent Kompany (4), Elias Cobbaut (3.5); Midfield: Yari Verschaeren (13.5), Albert Sambi Lokonga (10), Jeremy Doku (9), Michel Vlap (5.5), Francis Amuzu (3.6); Forward: Percy Tau (4), Landry Dimata (3.2).

Beerschot

Goalkeeper Mike Vanhamel (0.6); Defense: Dario van den Buijs (0.7), Jan Van den Bergh (0.7), Yan Vorogovskiy (0.6), Mohamed Reda Halaimia (0.6), Denis Prychynenko (0.5); Midfield: Raphael Holzhauser (1), Tarik Tissoudali (0.5), Abdoulie Sanyang (0.5); Forward: Marius Noubissi (0.6), Felipe Micael (0.5).

Brugge

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (8); Defense: Clinton Mata (8.5), Simon Deli (5.5), Brandon Mechele (4.8); Midfield: Krepin Diatta (20), Hans Vanaken (12), Charles De Ketelaere (9), Eder Balanta (4.8), Ruud Vormer (4.8); Forward: Emmanuel Dennis (16), David Okereke (5.5).

Cercle Brugge

Goalkeeper Merveille Goblet (0.3); Defense: Naomichi Ueda (0.8), Alexander Corryn (0.8), David Bates (0.5), Dimitar Velkovski (0.5), Vitinho (0.5); Midfield: Dino Hotic (1), Alimami Gory (1), Aboubakary Kante (0.8), Kylian Hazard (0.8); Forward: Guy Mbenza (0.6).

Charleroi

Goalkeeper Remy Descamps (0.7); Defense: Maxime Busi (2.5), Dorian Dessoleil (2.4), Modou Diagne (1), Steeven Willems (0.8); Midfield: Marco Ilaimaharitra (4), Ryota Morioka (2.4), Ali Gholizadeh (2), Massimo Bruno (2); Forward: Kaveh Rezaei (2.8), Shamar Nicholson (1.6).

Eupen

Goalkeeper Ortwin De Wolf (0.8); Defense: Silas Gnaka (1.8), Jordi Amat (1.6), Senna Miangue (0.8), Benoit Poulain (0.7), Menno Koch (0.6); Midfield: Stef Peeters (1.4), Knowledge Musona (0.8), Amara Baby (0.7), Jens Cools (0.5); Forward: Leonardo Rocha (0.4).

Genk

Goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt (1.3); Defense: Joakim Maehle (8), Jhon Lucumi (7.2), Carlos Cuesta (3.6), Daniel Munoz (3.6); Midfield: Bryan Heynen (5.5), Theo Bongonda (4.5), Junya Ito (4.5), Patrik Hrosovsky (4); Forward: Paul Onuachu (5.2), Cyriel Dessers (4).

Gent

Goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski (2.4); Defense: Nurio Fortuna (5), Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui (4.5), Alessio Castro-Montes (3; Midfield: Jonathan David (25), Elisha Owusu (7.5), Niklas Dorsch (6), Giorgi Chakvetadze (6); Forward: Roman Yaremchuk (9.5), Anderson Niangbo (3.6), Laurent Depoitre (3.2).

Kortrijk

Goalkeeper Adam Jakubech (0.8); Defense: Kristof D'Haene (1.3), Brendan Hines-Ike (0.7), Gilles Dewaele (0.6); Midfield: Hannes Van der Bruggen (1.2), Julien de Sart (1.2), Yevgen Makarenko (0.8), Jovan Stojanovic (0.8), Faiz Selemani (0.8); Forward: Terem Moffi (3), Ilombe Mboyo (0.8).

Leuven

Goalkeeper Darren Keet (0.4); Defense: Kenneth Schuermans (0.4), Frederic Duplus (0.4), Derrick Tshimanga (0.4); Midfield: Mathieu Maertens (0.8), Yohan Croizet (0.7), Xavier Mercier (0.7), Yannick Aguemon (0.6), Aboubakar Keita (0.6); Forward: Thomas Henry (1), Sam Hendriks (0.3).

Mechelen

Goalkeeper Gaetan Coucke (0.9); Defense: Issa Kabore (4), Rocky Bushiri (1), Jules Van Cleemput (1); Midfield: Aster Vranckx (5), Nikola Storm (2), Rob Schoofs (1.4), Jordi Vanlerberghe (1.1), Joachim Van Damme (0.8); Forward: Gustav Engvall (1.6), William Togui (1).

Oostende

Goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa (0.6); Defense: Jelle Bataille (1.5), Jack Hendry (0.8), Brecht Capon (0.6); Midfield: Robbie D'Haese (0.8), Kevin Vandendriessche (0.8), Andrew Hjulsager (0.8), Maxime D'Arpino (0.6); Forward: Fashion Sakala (1.2), Makhtar Gueye (0.7), Sindrit Guri (0.5).

Royal Antwerp

Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand (2.8); Defense: Aurelio Buta (4.8), Simen Juklerod (1.7), Ritchie De Laet (1); Midfield: Didier Lamkel Ze (3.5), Birger Verstraete (3.2), Benson Manuel (2.4), Alexis De Sart (2), Frank Boya (1.7); Forward: Dieumerci Mbokani (2.8), Jonathan Bolingi (1).

Royal Excel Mouscron

Goalkeeper Herve Koffi (1); Defense: Alessandro Ciranni (1.2), Nemanja Antonov (0.6), Saad Agouzoul (0.5); Midfield: Deni Hocko (0.7), Marko Bakic (0.7), Benjamin Van Durmen (0.7), Jean Onana (0.5), Beni Badibanga (0.5); Forward: Harlem Gnohere (1), Cedric Omoigui (0.4).

Sint-Truidense

Goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt (0.8); Defense: Pol Garcia (1.2), Ko Matsubara (1), Ibrahima Sory Sankhon (0.8); Midfield: Santiago Colombatto (1.2), Samuel Asamoah (1), Keito Nakamura (0.8), Seung-woo Lee (0.8), Chris Durkin (0.7); Forward: Facundo Colidio (2.3), Yuma Suzuki (1.7).

Standard

Goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart (3.6); Defense: Zinho Vanheusden (13.5), Konstantinos Laifis (4.8), Mergim Vojvoda (4), Nicolas Gavory (2.8); Midfield: Samuel Bastien (4.8), Selim Amallah (4.8), Gojko Cimirot (4.5), Maxime Lestienne (4); Forward: Felipe Avenatti (2.4), Obbi Oulare (2.4).

Waasland-Beveren

Goalkeeper Lucas Pirard (0.4); Defense: Daam Foulon (0.7), Maximiliano Caufriez (0.6), Aleksandar Vukotic (0.6), Andreas Wiegel (0.5); Midfield: Yuki Kobayashi (1), Aboubakary Koita (0.8), Matthias Verreth (0.6), Djihad Bizimana (0.5); Forward: Jordan Faucher (0.5), Stefan Milosevic (0.4).

Zulte-Waregem

Goalkeeper Eike Bansen (0.5); Defense: Ewoud Pletinckx (1.8), William Bianda (1), Laurens De Bock (0.6); Midfield: Abdoulaye Sissako (1.6), Omar Govea (1.6), Bassem Srarfi (1.6), Ibrahima Seck (1.4); Forward: Saido Berahino (3), Gianni Bruno (1.6), Jelle Vossen (1).