BELGIAN SUPER CUP – SUNDAY 21ST JULY
RSC Anderlecht 1 – 0 KRC Genk
It’s finally July, the month when all football fans are just re-growing their fingernails after the dramatic close to the season, wherever you are and whatever team you watch. However in Belgium, the growth of these nails was about to come to an abrupt close as two of Belgian’s heavyweights; RSC Anderlecht and KRC Genk battled it out to win the Belgian Super Cup. This final is put together when the winners of the Belgian Cup play the winners of the Belgian League. KRC Genk being the winners of the Belgian Cup, whereas Anderlecht breezed to their 32nd league title, so they played Genk. Anderlecht get the advantage of playing at their home ground, the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in all its might.
Anderlecht (4-1-4-1): Silvio Proto; Olivier Deschacht, Bram Nuytinck, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Demy de Zeeuw; Guillaume Gillet; Dennis Praet, Sacha Kljestan, Massimo Bruno; Matias Suarez; G. Cyriac.
Genk (4-3-3): Laszlo Koteles; S. Mbodji, K. Tshimanga, Kalidou Koulibaly, A. Ngcongca; Khaleem Hyland, Julien Gorius, Anthony Limbombe Ekango; Jelle Vossen, Thomas Buffel, Benjamin De Ceulaer.
Both teams chose very predictable line-ups, with Matias Suarez leading the front-line on his own with Gohi Cyriac playing in just behind him. A packed midfield of five was behind these two spearheads, but the most notable of differences being Sacha Kljestan playing in a very central role. The defence being led by highly rated Cheikhou Kouyaté who has been linked with a move to the Premier League anytime soon.
Genk however adapted their usual line-up to fit the benefits of Thomas Buffel playing in a more attacking position, he acted as a centre-forward behind the partnership of Vossen and De Ceulaer.
The First Half
The first half was very much played in the centre of the park, with both teams struggling to find the ball comfortably. This was down to Anderlecht’s use of very versatile Guillaume Gillet, he was obviously deployed in the holding-midfielder position to stop the very active Thomas Buffel from playing the ball about.
The first real opportunity came around the 15’ minute mark fell to Anderlecht striker Cyriac, a tasty dead ball situation which was put in at the near post for Cyriac to point towards goal, the Ivorian played it right at ‘keeper Koteles who could parry the ball away with ease.
The second opportunity fell to un-favourited Genk, again a lovely ball whipped in by Buffel towards the back-post which was headed straight across the face of the goal towards Benjamin De Ceulaer, all he had to do was tap it in, what did he do? You guessed it, he completely misjudged the ball and played it straight into the hands of helpless Silvio Pronto. One of the worst mistakes I’ve seen in a long while.
That was it for about 30 minutes, two chances which should have really been scored by Cyriac and De Ceulaer respectively. In the 37th minute, the ball was pin-balling around in Genk’s box and it fell to talented striker Mattias Suarez, it was a half chance at most but he managed to spin around and curl a beautiful shot with clipped the outside of the right post.
Finally the breakthrough for Anderlecht came deep into added time of the first half, Denis Praet receiving the ball about 25 yards out, playing the ball into Zoli Cyriac with his back to goal. The Ivorian internation then clipped a beautiful disguised pass over the head of centre-back Koulbaly into predominantly right-sided player Massimo Bruno to have a volley on goal; Bruno’s half chance (at most) was played with real power and Koteles couldn’t help but watch the ball deflect into the net off his legs. Nevertheless a very good finish from Bruno after some wonderful work from Cyriac.
That concluded the first half, which was pretty boring in all honesty. Anderlecht were obviously still coming to terms with the loss of Lucas Biglia, Jovanovic and Mbokani; three very important figures for Anderlecht that have dominated the team for a couple of years now. They played it across the park a bit too often, which made it quite a boring first half for both sets of fans. The only real delight to watch was Denis Praet, who looked very creative in his central role, he was the only real outlet of joy for neutrals like myself. Praet looked comfortable on his home ground and played the ball about with real personality and gesture.
The Second Half
I’m not going to lie to you, the second half was exactly the same as the first, however Genk manager Mario Been installed a fighting spirit in the heart of the Genk midfield that made them pressure the defensive triangle of Kouyaté, Gillet and Nuytinck.
The first 20 minutes were completely dominated by Genk possession, the first chance for them came to Jelle Vossen, he latched onto an in-swinging cross from the left hand side which was headed onto goal by Vossen, goalkeeper Pronto had to keep Anderlecht in it and he produced a spectacular save to deny Genk a path back into the game.
Not long after this, wave after wave of through balls from Thomas Buffel finally came to surface as he played in De Ceulaer who knocked it around a ball-watching Kouyaté and Pronto yet again come out and got to the ball just before De Ceulaer.
Genk then brought on midfield duo Jordy Croux and Yao Kumodzi, who offered diversity and widespread attacking fluidity together; while Anderlecht brought on the other Lukaku, Jordan. If you haven’t heard of Jordan Lukaku, he is very, very good. Alike Lukaku, he is strong and pacey, except Lukaku can also be transformed into a makeshift left-back. In this case this is what he was brought on to do, he helped Demmy De Zeeuw protect the left flank from Yao Kumodzi’s diagonal runs.
Despite the substitutions, Genk failed to bring out any more important chances, as Anderlecht had opted to protect the ball instead of going for a second goal themselves. You could clearly see the lack of match-fitness the Genk midfield had, one of the downfalls of last years failure to qualify for Europe.
The last couple of chances actually came to Anderlecht, albeit on the counter attack. Denis Praet yet again picking up a loose ball in the centre of the back and playing a perfectly weighted ground pass into Suarez, who bottled it in front of goal and out ran himself. Shortly after this, Lukaku (who looked like he was going into the corner flag) played a cross into Suarez who put it just over the bar. Another chance Suarez could of put away, really.
The final few seconds saw Anderlecht carelessly playing the ball across the backline in front of a fatigued Genk, the referee blew his whistle and that was it. This years Super Cup went to RSC Anderlecht, however seemingly not decisive winners but they pulled through. Muted celebrations from players were crowded out by cheers of the Anderlecht pyro’s.
If anyone watched the game, I’m sure you’d agree that Dennis Praet offered the most to the game. An underrated man at Anderlecht, he produced lovely passes and dictated how Anderlecht played throughout the game. The 19-year old showing the Anderlecht faithful a glimpse of what to come this season, a season that surely brings home silverware whatever the competition.
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