Cercle Brugge absolutely dismantled KV Kortrijk and kept their hopes for a spot in the playoffs with a chance of reaching the Conference League alive. Cercle ‘only’ won 2-0 but was very dominant against Kortrijk, which didn’t register a shot on goal throughout the match. Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 but Kortrijk couldn’t deal with the home side’s aggressive pressing at all. Dominik Thalhammer’s Cercle counter-pressed very well when losing the ball high up the pitch and recovered it numerous times. All Kortrijk could do was try to play a long pass to then win the second ball which they barely did.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Norwegian
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 06/01/2000
- Current club: Cercle Brugge
- Career: Stabæk (Y), FK Vigør, IK Start, Cercle Brugge
- Position: Centre Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Jesper Daland didn’t have a very busy night against KV Kortrijk but when his side needed him he was an absolute brick wall. The 22-year old Norwegian joined Cercle Brugge for around a million euros after a successful season with IK Start in the Eliteserien. Daland has adapted to the Belgian Pro League easily and has been a starter for Cercle since the start of the season. Only missing two matches because of a head injury and a suspension after five yellow cards.
At the start of the season Cercle often played with three central defenders but under Thalhammer Cercle found success in their 4-2-3-1. Jesper Daland played as the left-sided centre back against Kortrijk and did very well. Daland’s side often won the ball back very high up the pitch with a defensive line often around the halfway line. This of course means that balls in behind the defence could be very dangerous, but Cercle didn’t look vulnerable for a single moment this match. Partly because Kortrijk’s players didn’t have a lot of time to play a good long pass, but when they did Daland or the right centre back Utkus did a great job. The 6’2” tall defender has an athletic build and used his body very well in defensive duels. He also showed great tactical awareness and concentration knowing well when he had the possibility to step out of the defensive line to press higher up the pitch. Daland didn’t look like the most agile defender but was still surprisingly quick. He easily kept up in some of his sprint duels and then was able to use his body to his advantage. Daland wasn’t really tested in the air that often but cleared a few balls with his head and also won two offensive aerial duels after a corner. In the 49th minute, Daland got a penalty for his side when his opponent pulled his shirt over his head after a corner.
The Norwegian U21 international looked very calm on the ball. He mostly kept his passing short, which he did well, but also played a couple of nice long passes. Daland stepped out of the defensive line with the ball at his feet a few times only and he looked very composed when he did.
Rating – A1
Jesper Daland got his 5th selection in the team of the week in the JPL after his flawless performance against Kortrijk. The Norwegian defender could be a great, and probably cheap, option for some sides in need of a centre back this summer.
Leonardo da Silva Lopes
- Nationality: Portuguese
- Age: 23
- Date of birth: 30/11/1998
- Current club: Cercle Brugge
- Career: Peterborough, Wigan, FC Gillingham (L), Hull City, Cercle Brugge
- Position: Centre Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Leonardo da Silva Lopes put in another very impressive shift for Cercle as their right-sided centre midfielder. The Portuguese midfielder played a very big part in Cercle’s high pressing and covered a lot of ground for his side.
Standing at just 5’6” da Silva Lopes doesn’t look like a very physical midfielder at first sight. However, the 23-year-old did very well in his duels against Kortrijk. His aggression combined with the smart usage of his frame and good timing allowed him to win most of his duels. Da Silva Lopes played as the right-sided ‘defensive’ midfielder but did very well to stay very close to his partner in midfield, Hannes Van der Bruggen, keeping the midfield very compact at all times. The midfielder also showed that he read the game very well. He moved around well, blocking passing lines forward for his opponents, and intercepted a lot of passes in midfield.
We didn’t see that much of Lopes da Silva on the ball this game, sadly. But he still showed a few glimpses of class. He showed great positional awareness, by scanning well, picking out runs from teammates easily and doing very well in small spaces. His great first touch allowed him to quickly turn away from his opponent, creating a lot of space for himself to pick out a pass. Da Silva Lopes kept most of his passing low and quite simple. He was almost always trying to look for a forward pass though, getting the ball to the wingers very often with good low driven passes. The midfielder looked very strong throughout the whole game, displaying great stamina and work rate for the full 90 minutes, but there were a few moments in the latter stages of the game where his decision making was a bit rushed.
Rating – A2
Another solid game from Da Silva Lopes who is so important for this team even if he doesn’t see that much of the ball. He covers a huge amount of ground for his side and recovers a lot of balls, playing a big part in Cercle’s high pressing.
- Nationality: Welsh
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 09/09/2000
- Current Club: Cercle Brugge
- Career: Cardiff (Y), Manchester City (Y), Schalke 04, Cercle Brugge (L)
- Position: Right Wing
- Secondary Position: Left Wing, Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
KV Kortrijk’s right back Bryan Reynolds had a night he probably would like to forget very quickly. Reynolds couldn’t get a grip on Matondo’s pace and was moved to the left side after around 25 minutes and subbed off at halftime. Not everything Matondo did worked out very well, but his runs in behind created a lot of danger. Matondo played as Cercle’s left winger and was constantly making diagonal runs in behind Kortrijk’s defenders. The Welshman had quite some opportunities but didn’t manage to score. Some of the moments were just unlucky, with one of his shots hitting the post, but on different occasions, he could’ve done a lot better. He seemed to miss that tiny bit of composure in the final third which cost him.
Matondo is still a very raw player. Standing at 5’9” with quite a slim build he is a bit of a lightweight, which set him back quite a bit in his duels. Matondo is lightning quick however with great agility and a low centre of gravity. With the ball at his feet this makes him very hard to stop in tight spaces. He was a little predictable at times though when dribbling, always cutting back to his right, but he recognized the moments where it was better for him to just play a simple pass back instead of looking for a 1v1 duel.
Cercle’s manager Thalhammer asked a lot from Matondo who was constantly running around the pitch. If he or one of his teammates lost the ball on Kortrijk’s half, Matondo was instantly pressing forward trying to win it back. As I said Kortrijk really struggled with this and were barely able to keep the ball for longer than two passes.
Rating – B1
His pace was without a doubt his biggest weapon in this game, but besides his dangerous runs he couldn’t get that much done.