We’ve saved a special occasion to get around to our first Sixy Talk of the season. Thursday’s trip to Bruge isn’t Latics’ first competitive game off these shores, but as no one is likely to give any credence to the Manx cup then we’re happy to go with the flow. The game against Zulte Waregem is definitely our first competitive European fixture though and what better way to celebrate it than finding someone who’s lived near Wigan so is as comfortable talking about pies as they are anything else.
Or we could find someone who writes a blog on Belgian football to talk to about kicking a ball about and stuff.
As it turns out, we found both in the shape of Chris Mayer, owner of the Belgian Waffle blog, previously of these parts and just as qualified to talk about Eden Hazard’s brother and chips and Mayonaise as he is Meat and Potato. Just don’t ask him about Christian Beteke.
Tell us about yourself, how do you end up writing a blog on Belgian football?
Basically through curiosity. Noticed quite a few Belgian players coming through in 2010 and thought it would be a good idea to track them and the league to see if any more were set to make it in bigger European league. I also felt no one else was covering the league and it deserved better coverage. Fortunately plenty of Belgian have gone on to do very well in last two seasons. I’m actually from the North West of England (lived on either side of Wigan through formative years),so been to a few Wigan games.
Belgian football is going through a purple patch at the moment. We’re all aware of the players scattered across the Premier League, but are there plenty more left at home, or is the Belgian League suffering?
The Belgian League is in the best state, at least in creating talent, than it has been ever arguably. Anderlecht, Standard, Genk are the three clubs with the best youth academies who continue to churn out good players. I’d say there’s a good 20-25 players capable of making a bigger move. The youth changes made at the national level have helped improved players to a degree (though most of the current Belgian national side made their name outside of Belgium). This hasn’t yet trickled down to every club in the league and you could say there is disparity between the bigger names in the country and those in the top division scrapping to stay in it.
How well are Wigan Athletic known in Belgium, what will people there be expecting from us?
I’d say they are fairly well known due to the spell in the Premier League. Belgians seem to love the Premier League more than their own league! I think they will be expecting a good game even though Wigan aren’t in the Premier League anymore.
And what should we expect from Zulte Waregem?
You should expect a team full of quick decent youngsters. Zulte Waregem were the surprise package of the Pro League last season taking Anderlecht to a final day title decider. They are going well again this season too with most of the same team they had, though they lost 5-2 against Genk yesterday. Defensively suspect at times.
Finishing second in the league last year, Zulte Waregem presumably have some decent players, who should we watch out for on Thursday and which of them are most likely to be Premier League bound in the near future?
Eden Hazard’s little brother Thorgan has been great for the side on loan from Chelsea. Plays a lot like Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne and was instrumental to team’s success last season. Against Anderlecht this season, he scored one and set up three in 4-3 win. Speedy, good passer, dead-ball specialist. Junior Malanda is the other player I’d look out for. Almost moved to Fulham in the summer, a energetic central midfielder who is relentless. Always wants the ball. Hazard is mostly likely to end up in the Premier League, but he’s got some way to go.
When you think of Belgian refreshments, Beer, Chocolate and Chips with mayonnaise spring to mind. Out travelling fans will probably drink plenty of the first, but will be on the look out for a pie or two to soak it up. Are pies a part of the matchday experience over there? If so what’s your favourite kind, if not what’s your preferred Belgian matchday snack?
I’m afraid there won’t be any pies. It’s pretty standard options of burgers and hotdogs, maybe some chips and mayo. I tend to skip the snacks 😉
Cheers Chris, thanks for taking time out to talk to us and I hope you’re right about it being a good game. We’ve not seen too much of that recently and our lot will need something to distract them from the lack of pastry.
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