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Belgian First Division A Intro

Time and time again in betting guides and strategy tips you will come across advice to compare as many options as possible. In order to find the best betting offers, you need to be able to dig through as many as possible. Knowledge of the game is another thing you can’t really do without, though.

So, in order to prepare you for football leagues and matches you might not be as familiar with, you can find some useful information about them right here on Betting Fellow. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Belgian First Division A – the highest echelon of Belgian football.

Belgian First Division A History and General Info

This league is the top-level competition for professional football clubs in Belgium. The first-ever season for was held way back in 1895/96, making Division A one of the longest-standing pro football leagues in the world. It was created by the Royal Belgian Football Association, which later went on to be one of the founding members of both FIFA and UEFA. As of the writing of this article, UEFA’s coefficient ranking system places it as the eighth-best national league in Europe, based on performances in the last five years.

The name is a bit of a mouthful, and it was only recently accepted in place of the Belgian Pro League, by which it was known before the 2015-2016 season. However, the Leuven-based beer brewing company AB InBev has been the main sponsor of the competition for quite some time now. As such, the league is currently officially known as the Jupiler Pro League, in honour of InBev’s Jupiler beer brand.

The league consists of 16 best football clubs in Belgium. These then play against each other, with each team hosting every other team once as the season progresses, running from July to early May. This regular season follows a familiar format, where a win earns a team 3 points and a draw earns 1. The teams are then ranked by total points, then by total wins and finally by goal difference, number of scored goals, number of away goals and number of away wins. If after all of this two teams are still equal on the scoreboard, a test-match is played in two legs to determine the final order in the standings.

The league system in Belgium also follows the promotion/relegation system. This means that, with the current rules, the 16th-placed team is automatically relegated to the lower-tier league – the Belgian First Division B. Conversely, the best team from the Division B is promoted to take its place.

This system went through a lot of changes, some of which happened as recently as 2016. For example, a playoff portion was added then to decide the final outcome of each season. It works as follows: the top 6 teams from the regular season enter the championship playoff. The teams then play each other twice and earn points and are ranked in the same way as during the regular season, except that the teams start with half of the points they previously earned, rounded up.

The first-placed team is, of course, named Belgium’s champion. The champion and the runner-up qualify for the 3rd UEFA Champions League qualifying round. Teams ranked 7-15 are placed in a different set of playoffs, which are used to determine qualifications for the Europa League.

Traditionally, Brugge and Anderlecht are seen as the dominant teams of the league, considering they have the most titles won; followed by Standard Liège, Gent, and Genk – who were also champions in the 2018/19 season. An important thing to consider for the Belgian First Division A league betting is that this is not one of those leagues where the title always goes to one of two teams – it’s a bit more exciting than that.

Erwin Vandenbergh is seen as the league’s all-time top scorer and is the only player ever to have managed to get the top scorer title four consecutive times. In fact, he snagged the title 10 times in total during his active years in the 70s and 80s. Besides him, Victor Wegria and Josip Weber were also named top scorers 3 consecutive times each, with Wegria managing a fourth title some time later.

Since the title was only introduced in 1945, however, the person who actually scored the most goals is Bert De Cleyn with a whopping 350 goals between 1932 and 1954 with KV Mechelen.

Belgian First Division A Title Challengers

As previously mentioned, a look at history will not be enough to give you a great idea about who the current favourites are. As such, the Belgian First Division A betting odds for the ultimate winner might be a better indication.

Somewhat expectedly, Club Brugge are at the top of the pack, with odds of 11/50, or 1.22. This paints them as a clear favourite, and with good reason. They are then followed by Gent with 7/1 (8.0), Antwerp with 10/1 (11.0), and Standard Liege with 13/1 (14.0).

The reigning champions Genk are somewhere further down with odds of 40/1, and Anderlecht – who, as we’ve mentioned before, are historically the most successful team of the league – are way below with a horrifying 75/1. This should paint a clear picture of just how hard to predict this league can be.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of Belgian First Division A’s most promising contenders.

Club Brugge KV

This season’s favourites, Brugge have a long and proud history as one of Belgium’s most successful and decorated football teams. They were founded in 1891, and their home turf is on the Jan Breydel Stadium, which they share with their city rivals Cercle Brugge. Traditionally, their home jerseys are black and blue.

As of the writing of this article, the club have been crowned Belgian league champions a total of 15 times, second only to their biggest rivals Anderlecht. They’ve had notable success on an international level as well, being the only Belgian team to ever reach the UEFA Champions League finals (called the European Cup back then) in 1978, although they lost the match to Liverpool. They also lost in the 1976 UEFA Cup Final, again to Liverpool.

Beyond that, however, Clube Brugge holds the record for most consecutive participations in the UEFA Europa League with 20. They also hold the record for most Belgian Cups won with 11, and Belgian Super Cups with 15.

This team is heading into the 2019/2020 season in great form. They’re boasting an iron defence that even the most experienced teams heave trouble finding an opening in. Combined with a quick, aggressive, and decisive offence with striker Emmanuel Dennis upfront, it’s easy to see why experts are predicting a great run both domestically and in the coming Champions League.

K.A.A. Gent

The next team with the highest perceived odds is Gent, Brugge’s long-time rival. Although their football teams are the best-known part, Gent is a sports association spanning multiple disciplines. Their oldest divisions, field hockey and track and field, were founded way back in 1864, making it one of the oldest sports clubs in Belgium. They are based in Ghent, East Flanders. Gent’s home stadium is the Ghelamco Arena, and their team colours are blue and white. Up until 1971, the club was known by their French name La Gantoise – and are still called that in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Often referred to as De Buffalo's (The Buffalos), they’ve been a part of the First Division A every season since 1990. This participation only bore a single victory, however, in 2014-15. Before that, their history was full of promotions and relegations between this league and Division B. On an international level, Gent’s biggest success was making it to the quarter-finals of the 1991–92 UEFA Cup.

As such, Gent is not exactly a traditional favourite. They do show a lot of promise going into the season, however, and have so far been exceeding expectations. Gent utilise mixture of 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 formations, and their play seems to largely focus on attacks down the flanks.

R.S.C. Anderlecht

Founded in 1908, Anderlecht are the most decorated professional football team in Belgium. On the home front, they boast 34 league titles and nine Belgian cups. They also hold the record for most consecutive Belgian championship titles, back from when they managed to win it five times between 1963 and 1968.

On an international level, they’ve had some success with five trophies. This also makes them the most successful Belgian team in that aspect as well.

Anderlecht’s home stadium is the Lotto Park in Anderlecht, which is located in the Brussels capital-region and serves as the team’s base of operations. They were supposed to move to the massive Eurostadium upon its completion, but the project was scrapped. Their team colours are purple and white, which earned them the nickname Purple & Whites (Paars-wit in Dutch, Les Mauves et Blancs in French).

The most recent years have not been kind to this team, however. A strategy focused on ball possession and high-pressing has gone disastrously in the pre-season, resulting in this once-proud team of champions ending up with severely underwhelming odds of success.

Standard Liège

Together with Anderlecht and Brugge, Standard forms the so-called “Big Three” of Belgian football. Combined they share a total of 57 out of 113 Belgian Football Championships ever played and are generally expected to hold the three top positions.

They have won the league a total of 10 times, most recently in 2009. They’ve also on 8 Belgian Cups and have reached the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup, which they lost to Barcelona. Due to their red jerseys, they are known as Les Rouches because of the way the word rouge is pronounced in Liège.

Belgian First Division A Relegation Favourites

You know we’ll take a look at the flip side of the coin – the teams most likely to come in last and end up relegated to Division B. These are another important factor for betting on Belgian First Division A league.

Cercle Brugge K.S.V.

The other team from Bruges, Cercle managed to get into the top league in the 2003/04 season, following several years of relegation. They do have three national titles, but they were all won way back before WW2, so it seems this team’s golden days are far behind them. This season looks especially bad for them, and most bookmakers give favourable odds of them getting relegated.


Only existing under this name since a 2010 merger with K. S. K Baveren, Waasland’s presence amidst the highest ranks of Belgian football is a fairly recent thing. Originally known as Red Star, they were founded in 1936 but only reached the national level in the 2000/01 season. They clawed their way up to Division A by 2011, which is a fairly quick ascent and deserves respect.

K.V. Oostende

Colloquially referred to as the De Kustboys, Oostende’s history is long but not particularly filled with trophies and titles – though they were Belgian Cup finalists in 2017. Their stint in the Belgian First Division A was more focused on staying there but the bookies do not exactly favour them dearly.

Belgian First Division A Top Players

To get to know a league, you must get to know the players. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most distinguished individual players within Belgium’s Division A, and what makes them stand out.

Sander Berge

Although he could easily fit into the rising stars section of this article with only 21 years of age, this Norwegian midfielder is easily the most valued player currently playing for a Belgian team. Undoubtedly a key part of Genk’s surprise victory in the previous season, Berge is a dominating defensive presence. His style is often compared to Nemanja Matić in his prime, and he has been known to score goals in spite of his defensive position.

Zinho Vanheusden

The former Inter defender Zinho Vanheusden is in many ways similar to Berge. He’s a young, ambitious defensive player currently making waves in a relatively small club. The 20-year-old is currently playing for Standard Liege who have also been projected to do fairly well in the upcoming season. Major world-class teams such as Arsenal and Milan have been scraping to get their hands on Vanheusden, and for good reason.

Hans Vanaken

This 27-year-old attacking midfielder was time and time again been shown to be instrumental in Brugge’s 3-5-2 formation. He has been known to create amazing opportunities in the field for both himself and his teammates, forming an incredible striker partnership with veteran Jelle Vossen. He bagged 17 goals and added 16 assists in 40 games played during last season with a pass completion of 84,8%.

Belgian First Division A Rising Stars

It appears that the strength of Belgian football right now is in its youth, seeing how some of their best players are very young. Still, there are a few more promising young footballers we’d like to point out.

Jonathan David

Aged only 18, this young US-born player has already shown to be one of Gent’s strongest assets. This footballer’s striking ability is shadowed only by his potential, and reports show that several Premier League and Bundesliga clubs are already scouting him out.

Krépin Diatta

Diatta is a 20-year-old Senegalese left winger who has been rising quickly through the ranks as part of Club Brugge. Known to be somewhat temperamental, he is nonetheless a great offensive player, and someone to keep your eyes on.

Belgian First Division A Derby Matches

Flemish Derby

This derby is a manifestation of the well-known rivalry between Anderlecht and Club Brugge. Historically, this match-up has been known to be definitive in determining who will bear that year’s title. Both teams have very passionate fans, which makes these games intense and sometimes controversial.

Derby of Belgium

A classic derby between Anderlecht and Standard Liège, this match-up has often been described as the Belgian “Classico”. Not only does it reflect the traditional rivalry between the cities of Brussels and Liège, but also a certain class struggle: Anderlecht is usually perceived as the team of the bourgeois elite while the Standard is seen as the worker’s club. Standard’s fans are known to be particularly unruly, however, and it is not uncommon for this event to erupt in violence.

Belgian First Division A Best Stadiums

Jan Breydel Stadium

Located in Bruges, this multi-purpose stadium is the home of Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge. It was built in 1975 and boasts a capacity of around 29,000. It bears the name of a famous Belgian historical figure, and is mostly used exclusively for football matches.

Lotto Park

Up until this year, this stadium was called the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, after the sponsor. It is Anderlecht’s home turf, and one of the biggest sports arenas in the country with a capacity of 22,500, although there are plans for expansion.

Stade Maurice Dufrasne

The home ground of Standard Liège, this stadium holds some 27,000 – odd spectators. It is also known as Stade de Sclessin, from the name of the district of Liège where it is located.