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April 28th, 2023

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Croky Cup final 2022/2023: who will be champion?

Here we are! This Sunday 30 April at 14:30, the final of the Croky Cup will kick off. Will it be Mechelen or Antwerp that prevail and write their name in the history books of the competition once more? As we know, the stakes are high: a qualification for the last preliminary round of the Europa League is up for grabs.

To prepare for this final, we have crafted a brief recap of the competition and the stakes, as well as a small overview of the two great finalists’ history in the tournament. One thing is for sure: to enjoy the best odds and place amazing bets on the Croky Cup final, Circus is the place to be.

A bit of history

To cap off this 68th Croky Cup edition, once called Cofidis Cup, we have two usual suspects in the final.

On one hand, Mechelen have taken part in 6 finals and won twice. The Geel-rood last won in the 2019 edition by beating KAA Gent 1-2. On the other, we have Antwerp who, with 3 titles in 5 finals, have no reason to envy Mechelen. Their last title dates back to 2020, which is just one year after their rival’s last victory. The oldest club in Belgium had then beaten Club Brugge 0-1.

Can any clues be drawn from the championship form?

This year, all is still to play for and the hardest part is yet to come. For the Great Old, things are going very well in the championship and this final stands as great opportunity to pull off the double with a cup and a championship win. For Mechelen, things are not going so smoothly in the Pro League, and Steven Defour’s men are having an underwhelming season, as proven by their 13th place at the end of the regular season.

But Mechelen’s poor campaign doesn’t mean it’s all over, because as we know, the championship and the cup are two very different competitions. It’s still interesting to note that the teams who have won the Belgian Cup these last few years were all having a good championship seasons and were all at least in the top 6, except one:

The Malinwa! Indeed, when they beat Gent to win the cup, Mechelen were actually competing in Belgium’s 2nd highest division, known as “Division 1B.” All is thus still very much to play for and Mechelen are more than capable of making Antwerp’s life difficult. They have nothing to lose and will be giving their all on Sunday at the Heysel.

The European tickets

Beyond the prestige of securing a victory in the national cup, the teams will also compete for a spot in a European competition this Sunday.

The winner of the Croky Cup will indeed get the chance to take part in the last preliminary round of the Europa League. As a reminder, in the championship, the tickets for the preliminary round of the Champions League will go to the first two teams in the Champions’ Playoffs (once known as the playoffs 1). The team in 3rd place will win a spot in the 2nd preliminary round of the Conference League, while the team in last place of the Champions’ Playoffs and the winners of the Europe Playoffs (playoffs 2) will face off in a final to get the last ticket for the 2nd preliminary round of the Conference League.

If Antwerp were to win on Sunday, things would get even more complicated. Since Mark Van Bommel’s players are already qualified for the Champions’ playoffs, they would potentially be in contention to qualify for two different European competitions, which is not allowed.

So, in the event that Antwerp win the cup, the final between the team in last place of the Champion’s Playoffs and the first place of the Europe Playoffs wouldn’t take place, and all qualifying positions would be redistributed depending on Antwerp’s result at the end of the championship.

It’s safe to say that all eyes will be on the Belgian Cup final this Sunday, where the show promises to be breathtaking.

2 teams, 2 journeys

In total, no less than 314 teams from every division of Belgian football battled it out during this Belgian Cup. As usual, the big guns, which are the Jupiler Pro League teams, only entered the competition in the round of 32. Now, they are down to just two. To try and get a clearer view ahead of this final, it is important to recount KV Mechelen and Royal Antwerp Football Club’s respective journey to the last round of the competition.

In general, Mechelen have been very convincing and consistent. Unbeaten in the competition, the players from Limbourg have been very defensively solid and have only conceded a single goal in the entire tournament. They have successively eliminated KSC Lokeren-Temse in the round of 32, Seraing in the round of 16, Kortrijk in the quarterfinals, and Zulte-Waregem in the semifinals.

For Antwerp, this Belgian Cup was not exactly a walk in the park. The players have had to go through the penalty shootouts twice in order to qualify. While the results of Belgium’s oldest team may seem somewhat less impressive than those of the Malinwa, the players from Antwerp have had to contend with some serious opposition and have eliminated some of the major favorites, beating teams such as Standard (4-0) in the round of 16, and Genk (0-3) in the semifinals.

Which team are you going to bet on? Who out of Mechelen’s impregnable defense and Antwerp’s prolific attack will get the upper hand? Experience this clash even more intensely by betting at Circus. Place your bets!