The Belgian Jupiler Pro League, aka the Belgian First Division A, kicks off on Saturday as the 2020-21 season gets underway. The league begins after the previous campaign was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Club Brugge were awarded the league title in 2019-20 after the league was ended with 29 matches played. The club were 15 points ahead of second-placed Gent at the time the league was suspended. Sixteen points separated Club Brugge from third-placed Sporting Charleroi.
Sporting Charleroi finished third in the division with 54 points from 29 matches. They qualified for the Europa League third qualifying round. Trophies have been a rarity at Sporting Charleroi over the years. While Club Brugge and Anderlecht have dominated Belgian football, Sporting Charleroi have bounced between the divisions.
Last season’s third-place finish could be a change of wind for Sporting Charleroi. Head coach Karim Belhocine will aim to get the Zebras to contend for the Pro League title once more and back into Europe.
Games have been low scoring between these clubs in recent meetings. Coming off of a long layoff, Club Brugge and Sporting Charleroi could experience a close fixture to kick off the Pro League season.
Club Brugge took four of six points last season against Sporting Charleroi. Just one goal was scored over the course of 180 minutes of football between the pair. That goal came at Club Brugge’s Jan Breydel Stadium and was scored by Eder Balanta in the first minute of the match. The two clubs are evenly matched in defence and Saturday’s game is bound to be a defensive masterclass once more.
The Blue Black conceded just 14 times last season, the lowest mark in the league. Coach Philippe Clement’s team allowed an average of just 0.48 goals per game. Not to be outdone, Sporting Charleroi conceded just 23 times, the second lowest figure in the division. The defence allowed just 0.79 goals per match.
Sporting Charleroi have been recent winners against Club Brugge and even went to the Jan Breydel Stadium and won in 2018-19 in the 2018-19 season. That fixture finished 1-0 in favour of the Zebra. The last three matches between the clubs finished with under 2.5 goals scored and both teams not scoring goals. These sides have had high scoring games in the past. In the 2017-18 Pro League Championship Playoffs, Club Brugge defeated Sporting Charleroi 6-0. Now, with both sides playing as defensive juggernauts, it is unlikely a scoreline such as that will occur.
Club Brugge are actually coming off of a loss as they go into this game. The Belgian Cup Final was played on August 1st with the Blue Black losing 1-0 to Royal Antwerp. Although it may appear to be a shock result, Royal Antwerp did finish fourth in the league last season. Still, Clement will be frustrated that his side were unable to do the double.
It is difficult to see where Club Brugge’s challenge will come from in the title race this season. They finished 15 points ahead of Gent and the Pro League’s traditionally strong teams were non-contenders. Standard Liege finished fifth, Genk seventh, and Anderlecht somehow ended the season in eighth. On paper, the traditionally strong teams should be difficult to defeat once more but with the Covid-19 pandemic changing the face of life in 2020, things may end up similar in the end to last season.
One player excited to kick off the new campaign for Club Brugge is striker David Okereke. The 22-year-old signed from Spezia in 2019 for €8 million. He scored 10 goals in all competitions last term. However, after scoring four goals in his first three matches, Okereke cooled down significantly.
Under 2.5 goals - BET NOW
The last three league matches between Club Brugge and Sporting Charleroi finished with under 2.5 goals scored. Just two goals have been tallied over the course of the last 240 minutes of football between these clubs in the Pro League. Club Brugge and Sporting Charleroi were the two best defensive teams in the division in 2019-20. The Blue Blacks allowed 14 goals while the Zebras conceded 23 times.
Club Brugge to win to nil - BET NOW
Club Brugge posted a 1-0 win the last time they hosted Sporting Charleroi at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Brugge. A third minute goal from Eder led to the victory as they held firm throughout the rest of the 97 minutes of football. Clement will deploy former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in goal against Sporting Charleroi. He had 16 clean sheets in 27 Pro League matches a season ago. Two of those 16 shut outs came versus Sporting Charleroi.
Correct score: Club Brugge win 1-0 - BET NOW
Four of Club Brugge’s 29 matches in the Pro League last season finished as 1-0 wins. The Blue Blacks kept teams out of goal and should do it again this weekend versus Sporting Charleroi to kick off the campaign. The Zebras scored 49 times in the Pro League, but struggled in 180 minutes of football versus Club Brugge to find the back of the net. Twice they were held to clean sheets.
Although Club Brugge lost to Royal Antwerp in the Belgian Cup Final on August 1st, they should perform better versus Sporting Charleroi. The Belgian Cup Final can be simply viewed as a preseason match for the new campaign due to the issues presented by Covid-19. On Tuesday night, Club Brugge defeated Union Titus in a preseason game 3-0.
Perhaps the big news for Sporting Charleroi is the sale of Lille striker Victor Osimhen to Napoli. The Belgian club are set to receive a sell-on clause fee that will rake in a few million euros. That could be used to strengthen the squad.
Regardless of the players that may come in later, Sporting Charleroi will struggle to score versus Club Brugge. The reigning champions should get off the mark quickly and get a win in a low-scoring fixture.
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The Club Brugge vs Charleroi match kicks-off at 15:30 UK time.