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Belgian Pro League | Gameweek 1
Jul 29, 2023 at 5.15pm UK
Stade du Pays de Charleroi
OH Leuven

1 - 1

Dabbagh (9')
Mbenza (39'), Ilaimaharitra (52'), Heymans (79')
Stulic (17')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Opoku (84' pen.)
Maertens (62')

Preview: Charleroi vs. Leuven - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Belgian Pro League clash between Charleroi and Leuven, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Charleroi and Leuven get their 2023-24 Belgian First Division campaign underway when they lock horns at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi on Saturday.

Having lost both home and away meetings between the sides last season, Leuven will be looking to get one over the visitors and kick-start the new season on a high.

Match preview

A run of one point from their final two games saw Charleroi miss out on the First Division qualifying round last season as they finished ninth in the league table.

After suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Standard Liege in their penultimate league game, Felice Mazzu's side went into the season finale against Genk needing all three points to guarantee a top-eight finish.

However, they could only salvage a 2-2 draw against the Blauw-Wit as they came from behind twice courtesy of goals in either half from Isaac Mbenza and Ken Nkuba.

Charleroi picked up 48 points from 34 matches to finish ninth in the First Division table, with Cercle Brugge moving two points above and into eighth place courtesy of a 3-2 final-day victory over Zulte Waregem.

Les Zebres wrapped up what was a decent pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano last Saturday when Marco Ilaimaharitra and Alvaro Garcia scored for either side to force a share of the spoils.

Despite a strong end to the season, Leuven failed to reach the qualifying round as they missed out the top-eight places for the third consecutive year since their promotion in 2020.

Marc Brys's men racked up three wins in their final three games of the season, beating Mechelen, Oostende and Standard Liege while scoring an impressive 11 goals in that time.

However, 12 defeats and nine draws in their previous 35 matches saw the Leuven-based side finish 10th in the table — also with 48 points — only below this Sporting Charleroi on head-to-head record.

They lost both home and away games against this weekend's host last season, extending their losing streak against Les Zebres to four consecutive games since a 1-1 draw in August 2021.

Leuven head into the season opener on a run of four wins in their five pre-season friendlies, with a 4-0 loss against Genk on July 8 being the only exception.

Charleroi Belgian Pro League form:

Leuven Belgian Pro League form:

Leuven form (all competitions):

Team News

Joris Kayembe Ditu, who made 29 league appearances last season, ended his three-year stint with Charleroi this summer after signing for league champions Genk.

However, the club have brought in former Arouca striker Oday Dabbagh, who netted seven goals in 14 appearances in the Portuguese Premiera Liga last season, as they look to bolster their attack.

On the injury front, Mazzu will be unable to call upon the services of centre-back Nadhir Benbouali, who has been sidelined since January through a cruciate ligament injury.

Nkuba did not feature in any pre-season game after coming off with a knee injury in April's game against Genk and the Belgian forward is out of contention for the hosts.

Leuven will take to the pitch without the services of 20-year-old defender Alexandro Calut, who has been out of action since January through a torn knee ligament.

Ivorian forward Konan N'Dri recently signed for this weekend's visitors and the former Eupen man, who registered seven goals and two assists last season, could be handed his despite this weekend.

Charleroi possible starting lineup:
Koffi; Bager, Marcq, Knezevic; Tshiend, Zorgane, Ilaimaharitra, Tchatchoua; Badji, Stulic, Mbenza

Leuven possible starting lineup:
Cojocaru; Sagrado, Pletinckx, Ricca, Mendyl; Schingtienne, Schrijvers; Banzuzi, Maertens, Thorsteinsson; Opoku

SM words green background

We say: Charleroi 2-1 Leuven

While Leuven will be looking to continue with their fine pre-season form, they face the stern challenge of facing an opposing side who have won their last four meetings. With that said, we are backing Charleroi to extend their recent dominance in this fixture and claim all three points.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Tables header RHS

Group A

Q Germany Germany22006
2 Switzerland Switzerland21104
3 Scotland flag Scotland20111
4 Hungary Hungary20020

Group B

Q Spain Spain22006
2 Italy Italy21013
3 Albania national flag Albania20111
4 Croatia Croatia20111

Group C

1 England flag England21104
2 Denmark Denmark20202
3 Slovenia Slovenia20202
4 Serbia Serbia20111

Group D

1 Netherlands Netherlands21104
2 France France21104
3 Austria Austria21013
4 Poland Poland20020

Group E

1 Romania Romania21013
2 Belgium Belgium21013
3 Slovakia Slovakia21013
4 Ukraine Ukraine21013

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal22006
2 Turkey Turkey21013
3 Czech Republic Czech Republic20111
4 Georgia Georgia20111

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