Our prediction for this Belgium Pro League match:
Antwerp will be looking to regain their spot in top four when they face Mechelen in the first game of the year. Antwerp head into the match following back-to-back wins over Charleroi and Waasland-Beveren, and they are seen as favourites to beat Mechelen. Dieumerci Mbokani, who is not getting any older, will be the man to watch in the home team. Mechelen, on the other hand, were showing signs of improvement before the break, with the team beating both Leuven and Mouscron.
Both sides are high on spirits ahead of the match, but Antwerp seem to be more of a team than Mechelen, and we are tempted to put our money on the visitors. In the first half of the season Antwerp rolled over Mechelen 4-1 at Bosuilstadion, and we believe that the history is going to repeat itself on Sunday afternoon.
Highlighted Player (Lior Refaelov):
Lior Refaelov is an Israeli footballer playing as an attacking midfielder for the Belgium giants with whom he has been a mainstay since his arrival in 2011. Rafaelov began his career at Maccabi Haifa where he played 161 league appearances and scored 30 goals before moving to Belgium.
The experienced 30-year-old Israel international has made his senior debut for his country in 2007 and has since earned over 30 caps for Israel. Lior Rafaelov is a player of vast international experience despite the fact Club Brugge are his first and so far only club in Europe.
The 30-year-old attacking midfielder is a major force upfront who has scored six times during Brugge’s Europa League campaign in 2014-15, while he also scored the winner in the Belgian Cup final to earn his club a first trophy in eight years. Last season Rafaleov repeated the feat, having scored in the 2016 Belgian Cup Final, but it wasn’t enough for Club Brugge to avoid getting defeated 2-1 to Standard Liege.
Highlighted Team (Antwerp):
Founded back in 1880, Antwerp is one of the oldest clubs in Belgium. The Great Old welcome their rivals at Bosuilstadion, the venue with the capacity of 16,144 people. Antwerp are well known for their red home kits, with the team wearing white shirts and white jerseys when playing on the travels.
Over the years Antwerp have been trying to close the gap between Belgian giants Anderlecht and Club Brugge, but they have yet to win the title in the recent history. The Great Old clinched their first domestic trophy back in 1929, with the team repeating the success two years later. The third and the fourth titles came in 1944 and 1957 respectively.
Beerschot A.C. are considered the club’s fiercest rivals, but they have a rivalry with Club Brugge as well. The club chiefs had a long-term partnership with famous English club Manchester United in the past, with Antwerp taking young footballers on loan to Old Trafford.