2020/21 Recap: Regular Season Dominance
Club Brugge will be seen by many as favourites to retain their crown going into the 2021/22 season, but their poor form towards the back end of last year’s campaign will be somewhat of a concern for manager Philippe Clement.
Brugge’s impressive regular season performance saw them 16 points clear of runners up Antwerp at the top of the Pro League, having won 24 out of 34 games, six more than their closest rivals. Not only were they the league’s top scorers with 73 goals, averaging 2.15 goals a game, but they also boasted the best defensive record in the league, conceding only 26 goals at 0.76 per game.
Whilst winning 12 from 17 games at the Jan Breydel stadium, it was their away form which really set them apart from their competitors. They managed 10 more points on the road than any other club and lost just twice, even fewer than they did at home.
Despite their mammoth lead at the end of the regular season, Club Brugge struggled to replicate their form in the Championship group. They managed just one win from a poor six games which saw them beaten twice by eventual runners up Genk, including a disappointing 3-0 defeat away to John van den Brom’s side.
Fortunately for Brugge, their regular season performance was strong enough to see them scrape through as Pro League Champions, but it will have been a little too close for comfort for Clement.
2021/22: Can Club Brugge Complete the Treble?
Since the 2014/15 season Club Brugge fans have enjoyed a period of dominance at the top of the Jupiler Pro League. They have seen their side crowned champions in four out of the last seven seasons, and when Brugge haven’t managed to go all the way, they finished runners up in the remaining three campaigns.
This season, Clement will be looking to retain the crown, earning his third in a row and securing Brugge their 18th title, edging them one championship closer to Anderlecht’s impressive 34. But it won’t all be smooth sailing, even if Nao Long can keep firing on all cylinders!
They will face stiff competition from Genk, who ended the season in sublime form with the league’s top goalscorer Paul Onuachu firing on all cylinders. Antwerp will also fancy their chance having finished runners-up in the regular season and Anderlecht have proven time and time again that they can never be ruled out.
Genk to Spoil the Party
Genk’s title chances will rely heavily on them keeping hold of star man Onuachu. The Nigerian’s exceptional season has not gone unnoticed in Europe, with reports linking the 6ft 7 striker with a potential move to London to spearhead David Moyes’ West Ham attack. Genk’s talisman contributed 35 goals in 41 games in all competitions last season, a number almost impossible to replicate in an individual campaign should the player choose to leave.
Van den Brom will be desperate to keep hold of the striker, but the decision may be taken out of his hands should a big money bid come in from England. However, it is not all doom and gloom for fans should the centre forward decide to take his talents elsewhere.
Theo Bongonda had his most productive goalscoring season to date, netting 16 times whilst also providing eight assists. Cyriel Dessers also scored seven times, as did Kristian Thorstvedt who will be looking to kick on in his third season for the club with an even better midfield campaign. The Japanese forward Junya Ito also proved an important creative spark, scoring 11 times and creating 13 in an impressive individual season.
On top of all this, Joseph Paintsil will be returning from his loan spell with Ankaragucu in Turkey, where he enjoyed his best goalscoring season so far in his senior career, finding the net 11 times.
Plus, whether or not you see this as an indicator for Onuachu’s departure to a new club, Genk seem to be about to seal the signature of Chelsea’s Ike Ugbo, who enjoyed a fantastic campaign with Cercle Brugge last season.
We fancy Genk will spoil Club Brugge’s party. They have plenty of goals in their midfield and attack and have proven that they can find form when it really matters. They will have a point to prove after narrowly missing out on the title last season despite winning five of their six Championship play-off games.
When you also factor in Anderlecht’s poor away form last season, coupled with the loss of wonderkid Lokonga, we don’t think they’ll have quite enough to challenge.
It might be a two-horse race, and we think Genk will come out on top to secure their fifth Belgian Pro League title.