Matchday eleven of the Belgian Pro League 2022/2023 was full of surprises, especially at the Jan Breydal where newly promoted Westerlo stunned reigning champions Club Brugge with a 2-0 away win. Here is this weeks team of the week in a 4-3-3 formation:
Sinan Bolat (Westerlo)
Experienced goalkeeper Sinan Bolat put in a masterful goalkeeping display on Saturday night. The former Antwerp and Gent shot stopper was vital as the away side escaped Brugge with the three points and a clean sheet. The 34 year old made 12 saves in total to deny the hosts who ended the game goalless despite a 2.44 in expected goals (xG).
Jelle Bataille (Royal Antwerp)
The former KV Oostende defender has had to bide his time at Antwerp, playing second fiddle to Ritchie de Laet for the majority of his first season at the Great Old. This year however, he has made the right-back spot his own. Against Sint-Truiden he played well in attack and defence. Bataille ended the game with an 86% pass accuracy rating, which included four accurate long balls, as well as three chances created. Unfortunately for him none of these chances were converted. At the other end, the 23 year old won 60% of his defensive duels and recovered the ball five times.
Joseph Okumu (KAA Gent)
Gent’s Kenyan centre-back didn’t start the midweek defeat to Djurgardens in the Europa Conference League, so perhaps felt he had a point to prove away to Eupen. The 25 year old certainly showed manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck that he deserves to start in midweek. Okumu won every headed duel he faced (four) and 70% of those on the ground as well. Seven interceptions and four recoveries also show why Eupen were unable to get on the scoresheet.
Siebe Van der Heyden (Union St Gilloise)
This position could easily have been Toby Alderweireld, however the defensive work of Siebe Van der Heyden just edged the Belgian international out of the team. The 24 year old was all action at home to Cercle Brugge, putting his body on the line to ensure his side came away with three points. He passed both the eye test and the data test, winning all but one of his aerial duels, recovering the ball seven times and coming up with six clearances as Union held on to a 2-1 home win.
Maxim De Cuyper (Westerlo)
Many Club Brugge fans and staff may be wondering why they didn’t include a clause in the loan deal that sent De Cuyper to Westerlo that meant the young defender could not feature against them. The 21 year-old Belgian put in a quality display against one of the leagues best players in Andreas Skov Olsen. While usually an attacking full-back, De Cuyper’s defensive workload was outstanding, as he finished the game with nine recoveries, three interceptions and winning all three of his tackles. Club Brugge fans will certainly be hoping to see plenty more of those performances in black and blue in the future.
Simon Adingra (Union St Gilloise)
Perhaps unbalanced, given he was playing left-midfield, Simon Adingra deserves a place in this weeks team of the week. It was the winger who provided the assist for Dante Vanzier’s opening goal, before then grabbing the winner from a fantastic Teddy Teuma assist in the 56th minute. All of Unions best attacking moments in this game featured Adingra. The 20 year-old Ivorian loanee from Brighton was looking to create for his teammates, while also being willing to fire shots on goal. At the other end, he was also tracking back, recovering the ball five times.
Hyun-Seok Hong (KAA Gent)
Hong made an instant impression on Gent and Belgian football fans with his opening goal in the Pro League against Oostende a few weeks ago. This week he was scoring again, this time at the double against Eupen. Efficiency was the name of the game, as both goals came from the only shots that the 23 year-old South Korean took. Hong also created three chances for his teammates, who unfortunately couldn’t take them.
Sofian Kiyine (OH Leuven)
The first of three half-time game changes in this weeks team of the week, 25 year old Kiyine made an instant impact after coming on at half time for OH Leuven against Zulte Waregem. The Moroccan midfielder, who joined from Lazio in the summer, got his first goal in Belgium with a fine strike on 58 minutes to put his side 2-1 up. He then grabbed an assist in the 90th minute to set up Mario Gonzales for the strikers hat-trick. This was just the second appearance for the former Venezia midfielder, who will be hoping it brings a few more.
Mario Gonzales (OH Leuven)
As with Kiyine, Gonzales was also introduced at half time against Zulte Waregem. 45 minutes later, the striker on loan from Braga had a hat-trick and an assist, giving him six goals for the season. One long range strike, another from close range thanks to great movement and the final being a composed finish on the break, Gonzales will have certainly shown manager Marc Brys that he should be starting every game.
Mario Stroeykens (Anderlecht)
The final of the half-time game changes was Mario Stroeykens of Anderlecht. 1-0 down at half time and with pressure mounting following fan protests to start the game, the Mauves really needed something to change. Felice Mazzu turned to the 18 year-old and he delivered. Just a minute since coming on he had made it 1-1, before adding a second in the 67th . Many will be predicting that these are the first of many goals that Stroeykens will be scoring in the Belgian Pro League.
Lyle Foster (Westerlo)
While his two goals may not have been the most spectacular, Lyle Foster’s all round game against Club Brugge was excellent. The 22 year-old South African was chasing lost causes, putting constant pressure on the Club Brugge defence and also doing his own defensive work. On a personal note, for Foster to put in such a display at the Jan Breydal may have filled him with even greater joy, given his struggles when playing for the other half of Brugge. During his time with Cercle, the young striker only managed one goal in 19 appearances. In 10 this season at Westerlo, Foster already has five goals.
All stats references in this article were taken from FotMob.