In the peaceful center of Bruges, the facilities for the time trial of the 2021 World Cycling Championships on Sunday are ready and the event, which will take place all next week in Flanders, leads to sightings all over the city the face of defending champion Julian Alaphilippe.
But this Wednesday, the effervescence that will invade the cobbled streets and the surroundings of the Jan-Breydel stadium will smell the scent of the great evenings of European football. The 30,000 places in the match between FC Bruges, reigning Belgian champion, and PSG, second in Ligue 1, were torn off in a few hours. Because there will be Messi, Mbappé and Neymar on one side. But also because the Flemish club is attracting more and more and continues to grow. Here are five things to know about Blue and Black.
1. Smart recruitment
Under the impetus, since 2019, of coach Philippe Clement, 47, former Belgian international central defender, FC Bruges has been inspired by the transfer market. The arrival from Liverpool of Belgian international goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the summer of 2019 was a sign of the club’s ambitions. This summer, after selling its 20-year-old Ivorian defender Odilon Kossounou for 30 million euros in Leverkusen, Bruges was able to be active with no less than eleven arrivals. Striker Kamal Sowah was notably recruited for 9 million euros from Leicester. Former Parisian Nsoki arrived from Nice for 6.5 million euros. And Rennes defender Faitout Maouassa for more than 4 million euros. But the club also knew how to be loaned by Aston Villa Wesley, the Brazilian striker.
2. Growing resources
The American investment fund Orkila Capital has just, at the beginning of July, invested 50 million euros (20 million euros injected into the capital) and 30 million euros to acquire 23.26% of the shares. Alongside Grizzly Sports, the majority shareholder of the club chaired by Bart Verhaeghe, the investment fund intends to contribute to the international development of FC Bruges. The club with a budget of 100 million euros, also has high quality facilities. Its training center, very efficient, also earned it the nickname “Bayern of Belgium”, in reference to the German club.
As for the facilities, they impressed Nsoki upon his arrival. “Seeing the club facilities, I said: Oh yeah anyway. Honestly, it’s far from what I experienced in Nice or even at PSG, ”said the defender to the Goal site. Finally, the charming but dilapidated Jan-Breydel stadium will soon be completely renovated and its capacity increased from 30 to 40,000 seats. Last March, the people of Bruges announced their next IPO, before suspending the project.
3. Wide popularity
Considered the second club in the country in the 1990s and early 2000s, Club Brugge is now ahead of Sporting Anderlecht. Since 2015, he has won four titles. Above all, its popularity is not limited to the north of the country and its part of Flandria where it is located. If Standard de Liège has a few supporters in Flanders, FC Bruges has them all over the country.
4. A heckled leader
Leader of the Jupiler Pro League, FC Bruges is only one point ahead of Union Saint-Gilloise, Standard de Liège and Charleroi. After seven days, he has indeed already conceded two draws and especially a severe defeat during the Flandrian derby in Gent (6-1, August 29) club which was his runner-up in the 2020 title, where Bruges finished with 15 points. advance. However, he remains on a clear success against Ostend (3-0), in a full stadium. This gives him confidence before approaching his meeting against PSG, even if Philippe Clement, the coach, emphasizes that his team “will not be able to play the same match against Paris, that’s clear! “
5. An old Parisian acquaintance
PSG have already crossed paths with FC Bruges in the group stage two years ago. After a delicate first period in the first leg, in Belgium, the entry into play of Kylian Mbappé in the 52nd minute had changed everything. A decisive pass and a hat-trick: the Parisian striker had ended up being applauded by the public, a good player despite the heaviness of the score (5-0). Philippe Clement had called him “the best striker in the world”.
This Tuesday, at the end of training, Belgian supporters cheered Mbappé. Even if their eyes were focused above all on Messi, “the biggest star in the whole world”, according to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. As for Marquinhos, the Parisian captain he did not forget this confrontation and in particular the difficulty on the return where Paris had won by only one goal (1-0).