The Union Saint-Gilloise sits at the top of the championship, shaking up the G5 and Belgian football as a whole. An almost unprecedented epic. Almost: in 1996, the Excelsior Mouscron, promoted, also began to dream …
The story is very different: while the Union Saint-Gilloise has a rich past and already 11 Belgian league titles, but found the elite this season after 48 years of absence, theExcelsior Mouscron is for its part a new kid, who entered the D1 in 1996 for the very first time in its history. In this sense, the epic of the Hurlus is even less expected than that of the USG which has already driven, last season, on a D1B whose level is regularly said to be comparable to that of the middle of the D1A classification.
Finally the climb … and more
After two consecutive failures in the final round, Mouscron finally reached D1 … and remained undefeated for 7 days, even holding Anderlecht in check at Le Canonnier. He will bow to Lierse (future champion, also unexpected) on September 28, before getting off on the right foot by crushing Sint-Truiden: 5 goals to 0 with a double from Emile and a goal from Mbo Mpenza.
The brothers are then at 4 goals each and their duo promises to be one of the phenomena to follow this season and in the years to come – a promoted carried by a duo of complementary attackers, does that remind you of anything? The machine is restarted, it beats Standard (2-1), Bruges (1-0), Charleroi (3-1), and will end up … taking the lead of the championship, on December 21, by beating Lommel during the 18th day of the championship. No, unlike the Union, Mouscron did not quickly take control, but the breath of fresh air blowing on Belgian football is comparable. The Excelsior only bowed twice before the holidays (a second at RWDM), and begins to dream under the tree, at this time when the winter break still really exists (we don’t play before January 18). .
Long knife in the back
Flashback to the 2020-2021 season now. Last season, the Beerschot won over Belgium with his shimmering, unapologetic play and his clear mentality – scoring one more goal than the opponent. But during January, and while the Rats left the championship lead, Hernan Losada says yes to the American challenge. The Beerschot will not recover. A few weeks ago, after the spectacular victory of the Union against Seraing, we joked with Felice Mazzù: “The Beerschot struggled in the second half of the season, but it is also because their coach left”. He replied with a smile: “It can happen, you never know”. We very much doubt it.
But there are some who will not have laughed at this joke, and not only in Antwerp: on the side of Mouscron, we know what it feels like to lose your mind. New Year’s Eve hangover at the Canonnier: during January, Georges leekens is debauched by the Belgian Union, in search of a savior who will be able to take Belgium to the 1998 World Cup. The return of karma will wait until 2012, when Long Couteau will plant the Devils for Bruges.
The Excelsior, however, despite a frankly reduced core (the base eleven moves very little) and probably less talented intrinsically than that of the Union today, will not collapse. It was not until March that Mouscron lost the lead in the championship, and the promoted still finished third, a record performance for a post-war promoted. Could they have done better? “Many supporters believe that we could have been champions if Georges had stayed at the time, but I think that is wrong,” said Mouscron president Jean-Pierre Detremmerie in 2003 when he brought Georges Leekens back to the fold. And after all, it’s not as if the Excelsior had been ridiculous after the truce. Just caught up with its limits. Where are those of the Union Saint-Gilloise? The future will tell.