It’s time for Belgium’s first competitive match today as champions Anderlecht play cup-winners Racing Genk. The match takes place at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium and it looks like the weather and the timing will lead to quite a few empty seats.
Many Anderlecht fans are concerned that the club has not done more to replace several senior players. Lucas Biglia, Dieumerci Mbokani , Tom De Sutter and Milan Jovanovic have all left the club and the only notable signings have been young Federico Vico from Cordoba and the return, on loan, of Demy de Zeeuw from Spartak Moscow. Vico though is on U20 international duty and is not available for today’s game.
De Zeeuw’s return on loan came as a surprise to many as he did little last season. John van den Brom is a fan however and the club is struggling to replace Biglia. On the positive side, 16 year-old Youri Tielemans looked promising against Hamburg and could start in place of de Zeeuw today.Up front, it looks like Massimo Bruno, Matias Suarez and Jordan Lukaku. The last-named is at last getting a run in favoured position. Overall the side currently lacks experience and a proven goalscorer. If Cheikhou Kouyate leaves, which is possible, Anderlecht will be in need of quite a few signings. If not, the club does have a high number of promising youngsters and it may be a time to test out Alan Hansen’s theory about winning titles with kids. Genk have a side similar to the one that won the cup last year. Reportedly, Genk were trying to sign Thorgan Hazard on loan but the Chelsea midfielder has chosen to stay for another season at Zulte Waregem. It seems a strange choice on paper but it’s good to see a player in the spotlight show signs of loyalty.
Steven Joseph-Monrose will miss the game through injury which gives another chance to Anthony Limbombe, who has been around for three seasons and is only 19. Genk have a useful side including Jelle Vossen, Julien Gorius and ex-Ranger Thomas Buffel.
I think Genk could offer a real challenge for the title this season. Like Anderlecht, they have a number of talented youngsters ready to break in to the team. It could be an interesting season for both clubs and I see them both as title challengers, along with Club Brugge.
Today I take Genk to win.
Anderlecht: Proto, Deschacht, Nuytinck, Kouyate, Gillet, Kljestan, Praet, Tielemans, Lukaku, Bruno, Suarez
Genk: Köteles, Anele, Koulibaly, Kara, Tshimanga, Kumordzi, Gorius, Limbombe, Buffel, De Ceulaer, Vossen;