Welcome to the first in a series of season previews from our resident scouting expert Sam Dunwell. The Belgian league is back and if you weren’t an avid fan before you started playing Sorare, we suspect you are now. After the excitement of last season, who isn’t looking forward to a convoluted play-off system, terrible pitches and suspension rules so confusing that Pythagoras has been brought back out of retirement to adjudicate. Onwards we go with a preview of the top six teams expected to challenge in this year’s competition.
Transparency statement: Sam owns no Sorare cards of the players mentioned in this article
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1. Club Brugge – 59% chance of winning the title
Where else to start other than the reigning champions and recently IPOd Club Brugges? Clearly the strongest side in the division the black and blue could do no wrong until a late season wobble saw them limp to their second consecutive title. Expectations are again high although they may be made to work harder this season by a resurgent Anderlecht side and a Genk team who are growing in confidence (see below).
Star Man: Noa Lang
Hot Prospect: Charles De Ketelaere
Budget Buy: Youssouph Badji
2. Anderlecht – 19% chance of winning the title
The purple and white have money to spend after selling star man Lokonga to Arsenal; also they have been busy in the market themselves, adding a number of players from around the continent. Vincent Kompany will be hoping for more from his young squad this season. The signs were there in 20/21 that improvement could follow given the amount of time that was made available for emerging youth players. Chasing down Club Brugge will be a tall order but it’s this Anderlecht side which has the best chance of making that a reality.
Star Man: Anouar El Hadj
Hot Prospect: Taylor Harwood-Bellis
Budget Buy: Evgeny Makarenko
3. Genk – 18% chance of winning the title
De Smurfen are a side with a growing reputation for playing attacking football; scoring the most goals out of any side in last season’s competition with the exception of the eventual champions. Whilst the side has made only a handful of signings, most importantly for the East Belgian side is the fact they have been able to hold onto the majority of the squad from last season, including Sorare favourites Bongonda, Ito and Onuachu. The season opener against Standard Liege is sure to have a poignant feel given the recent devastating flooding to have hit the region and it remains to be seen what effect that may have on the early weeks of this year’s campaign.
Star Man: Theo Bongonda
Hot Prospect: Maarten Vandevoordt
Budget Buy: Patrik Hrošovský
4. Antwerp – 8% chance of winning the title
“The Great Old” club of Belgian football ended the regular 2020/21 season extremely credible runners up to the competition’s eventual champions. It’s less than a year since the club won their first major trophy in nearly 30 years when they lifted the Belgian Cup in August 2020. This is a team which confirmed that promise and delivered excellent results throughout last season. The club have been busy during the summer months, splashing the cash on some exciting new additions, including the arrival of wide man Michel-Ange Balikwisha from Standard Liege for a fee of around six million euros. Although considered significant outsiders for this season’s title, don’t be surprised if Antwerp outperform the bookmakers’ odds again.
Star Man: Ritchie De Laet
Hot Prospect: Michel-Ange Balikwisha
Budget Buy: Jelle Bataille
5. Gent – 8% chance of winning the title
The good news for Gent fans is that in the 2020/21 season they were able to win an impressive 14 games. The bad news is that they also lost 13 matches, more than any other side in the final top 8 positions. This was a side which demonstrated that on their day they could beat anybody, scoring 7 on one occasion but let down by terrible inconsistency against opposition of all levels. Sorare favourite Gianni “The King” Bruno has arrived from ZW along with six other players to bolster the squad. As expected, the exciting playmaker Niklas Dorsch has returned to Germany following some impressive performances and it remains to be seen whether his creativity can be adequately replaced.
Star Man: Roman Yaremchuk
Hot Prospect: Anderson Niangbo
Budget Buy: Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui
6. Standard Liege – 2% chance of winning the title
We round out our season preview with a look at the last remaining realistic title contenders, Standard Liege. Standard showed flashes of brilliance last season, finishing sixth in a blanket finish of sides vying for a play-off berth. Despite €20m of player sales during the off-season, the club have not yet elected to make any signings, with no replacements on the horizon for either the aforementioned Balikwisha or new Inter Milan man Zinho Vanheusden. Without knowing what reinforcements may arrive in the next few weeks, it’s difficult to be bullish on Standard’s chances of improving on last season’s sixth place finish. This could all change however and prospective buyers should keep an eye on transfer news during the early stages of the season.
Star man: Selim Amallah
Hot Prospect: Hugo Siquet
Budget Buy: Konstantinos Laifis