Lokeren vs Club Brugge by Isaiah
Lokeren had decent previous season as the team ended up at eleventh position at the table after regular thirty rounds period, having not the best possible position, but they still ended up with a chance of playing in Europe later on. After ten rounds played in Europa League group competition, they finished second with eleven points less than first placed Genk.
They simply weren't quality enough in order to reach the European exit, but also there's no doubt that they looked like a side that is just below those who got to play in Europe. As for preparation period, they had some easy matches against lower profile teams with big margin victories, but also lost to Cercle Brugge and drew against Olympiakos, showing a decent performance in the last friendly game against Deinze winning it with 2:1 result.
Lokeren did not changed a lot during summer. They are still a tough team to break even if they are playing at home or away. Most important of the six transfers they completed are forward Luciano Slagveer from Dutch side Heerenveen and Belgian defensive midfielder Stefano Marzo also from the same club.
Generally we should expect a solid Lokeren this season once again, with their normal up and downs. The fact that the core of the team is kept, can bring only positive results for them, while they have more options in the front line in comparison with the past season.
For the team news, Forward Mohamed Ofkir is injured and long term absentee, while midfielders Samy Kehli and Killian Overmeire are also injured and probably won't be playing in the season opener.
Club Brugge was in the title race last season for a long period, however the team failed to show their best when it was needed the most - even though they ended up regular thirty rounds part with just two points behind Anderlecht at second position, the team had just 4-3-3 record in Championship Group competition and couldn't keep up the pace with them.
In the end, they ended up second with four points more than Gent, but also seven less than champions from Anderlecht. The team had seven friendly matches before the start of the season, winning over some amateur sides plus Ukrainian side Oleksandriya, but failed to get a victory in three most recent friendly games when they lost to Bilbao and AZ Alkmaar, having a draw against Dutch Sparta Rotterdam too. Season has already started for them, with a 3:3 home draw in third Champions League qualifying round against Turkish side Basaksehir and hell of a job awaits them in the second leg.
Brugge was very effective to the first half, they managed to score to the little number of chances they created, the second one with a great free kick from Denswil and the first one from new signing Emmanuel Bonaventure who came from Ukrainian side Zorya Lugansk and he is going to be their next star. But the second half was very different. Basaksehir turned up and improved their play a lot, Brugge had big trouble to follow the pace of the game and the Turkish side managed to score three times, while they could score even more goals.
Generally coach Leko risked a lot for such an important game. With a 3-4-3 formation that was not changed except the last twenty minutes, against such a dangerous side, it would not be normal not to receive goals. In the front line Bonaventure was more than good, the same goes for Refaelov, but Perbet was just a disappointment and I doubt that he will keep starting on the first eleven.
Forward Wesley and midfielder Tomas Pina are both long term absentees. Some additional rotation is very likely with Champions League game ahead of them.
Club Brugge didn't convince me against Basaksehirspor, at least in the second half, especially not once the Turkish side started playing a bit more relaxed to the last ten minutes. They had way too many defensive gaps and shown signs of fatigue, while a more difficult task awaiting them in the next few days.
Having that in mind and also the fact how important their next leg is, I don't even see them being favorites here. Lokeren is usually a side from which you know what to expect and they definitely could be able to pull out a point here at least with value surely being on their side.