22nd August 2015.
Four weeks in and we assess the 2015 - 2016 Belgian Pro League so far. An interesting narrative arc has begun to emerge concerning the division's current leader, KV Oostende. Oostende-who have won three games so far, and drawn the fourth-have never won the Belgian Pro League before. In fact, just three seasons ago, the football club was playing in Belgium's Second Division. They won the Second Division to earn promotion into the Pro League, but struggled in their first two years in the top-flight, finishing ninth in 2013 2014, and 10th in 2014 2015. Both seasons saw Oostende losing more matches (14, each year) than they won (11 in 2013 2014, nine in 2014 2015).
An Unexpected Frontrunner
In other words, KV Oostende would have been no one's pick as a frontrunner contender for the 2015 2016 Belgian Pro League. Now, though, four weeks into the league's 38-game season, Oostende's success is beginning to look less and less like a fluke, and more and more like a soccer club that has hit its stride.
Starting with a 3-1 win over Mechelin in week one, KV Oostende have been fairly stellar throughout the first month of the 2015 2016 season. They also managed victories against Westerlo (2-1) and even Belgian Pro League heavyweights RSC Anderlecht (3-1). The latter triumph featured two goals from promising Oostende attacker Knowledge Musona, who has already netted three goals for the season-after only scoring five total in 2014 2015. The Anderlecht match also would have been a shutout, had Oostende's Antonio Milic not scored an own goal at the beginning of the second half.
Surprisingly, Oostende's poorest outcome so far-a 1-1 draw in week three-came against Sint-Truiden, a football club recently promoted from Belgium's Second Division. Sint-Truiden are also exceeding expectations this season, though, having won two games, drawn one, and lost one, for a current table position of fifth place.
The Top of the Table
KV Oostende are currently leading the 2015 2016 Belgian Pro League, as the only team to have won three fixtures. They have a point total of 10 in the standings, and a goal difference of +5-not a bad start, by any means. It will be interesting to see whether or not these underdogs can continue their Cinderella story in the coming weeks and months.
Gent, meanwhile, last season's champions, are currently in second place as the only other undefeated team in the entire league. Gent have won two games (against Genk and Sint-Truiden) and drawn two (against Westerlo and Anderlecht) for a point total of eight and a goal difference of +2. It's interesting that Gent, traditionally one of the best football clubs in Belgium, aren't performing as well as KV Oostende, despite having faced a similar slate of opponents so far.
The Struggles of Belgium's Elite Soccer Clubs
Also interesting is that Club Brugge, the 2014 2015 runners-up in the Belgian Pro League, are still trying to recover from a week one loss to Sint-Truiden. The 13-time national champions are in third, having also won a pair of fixtures and drawn the other. Still, Club Brugge have been surprisingly sloppy so far this season, drawing 0-0 in a dead heat against Charleroi (a club they've beaten three times in 2015 alone) and only avoiding a draw with Kortrijk thanks to a 90+2 last-minute goal.
Club Brugge aren't the only one of Belgium's elite teams that has struggled in the first weeks of the 2015 2016 Pro League. In fact, Brugge's current table position-third place-is solid when compared to other recent top finishers like Anderlecht and Standard Liege.
Those two teams are in seventh and eighth place, respectively, at the moment, both with two wins, one draw, and one loss on their ledgers. Anderlecht and Standard Liege topped the 2013 2014 Belgian Pro League table, and finished third and fourth last year. Needless to say, both have had slow starts.
Will the Belgian Pro League remain this unpredictable in the coming months, or will underdogs like KV Oostende and Sint-Truiden eventually fall into line behind typical frontrunners like Anderlecht and Club Brugge?
The 2015 - 2016 Belgian Pro League so Far: KV Oostende, Gent Hold on to Undefeated Records
22nd August 2015.