Manchester United face Club Brugge this evening in the first-leg of the UEFA Champions League qualifier at Old Trafford, a good time to be playing under the floor lights of Old Trafford again.
Venue: Old Trafford
Channel: BT Sport Europe
Club Brugge Last Season
Club Brugge hail from Belgium and play in the top division in Belgium, the Jupiler League. Last Season, Club Brugge won the Jupiler League with 61 points and a +41 goal difference. This was Brugge’s first league win in 10 years.
They are currently joint top of Belgian top division, along with Anderlecht, KV Oostende and St. Truiden. All teams have 7 points after 3 games with a +3 goal difference.
Meaning no disrespect, Club Brugge shouldn’t cause too many problems for even a second string Manchester United team. Their Jupiler League top scorer last season was José Izquierdo. The 21 year old Colombian scored 10 league goals in 22 appearances for Brugge.
Club Brugge rotated their team a lot between the league games and Europa games. Their top goal scorer in the Europa League was Argentinean winger Lior Refaelor, who netted 7 goals in 11 games.
The Belgian side has also just acquired Hans Vanaken from KSC Lokeren for a club record fee of £2.8 million. The 22 year old has played all of Brugge’s league and Champions League qualifier matches so far this season, and has assisted one goal.
Brugge in the Champions League
Club Brugge have made 4 appearances in the Champions League group stage, and have never surpassed the group. However, in the Europa league last year, they made it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Dnipro 1-0 over 2 legs.
This season, Brugge have had to conquer Panathinaikos. They travelled to Athens for the first leg and lost 2-1. But on the return leg to Bruges, they dominated the Greeks and won 3-0, 4-2 on aggregate.
History against Manchester Untied
There is no competitive history between the two clubs. This will be their first meeting in the competition. United have never failed to surpass the qualifying stage of either the Champions League or the Europa League. It’s very likely that United will win this match up and go on to the group stage.
In reality, this should be a mere formality for the Red Devils. Hopefully, this will give van Gaal a chance to field some of the young prospects like Johnstone, Blackett, Pereira and Lingard.
In pre-season, the second half of the first two matches would see a kind of second string United take the field. It’s likely that a few of these players will play against Brugge. It’ll also be a chance for those considered to be unfit to take the field. Rojo and Schweinsteiger should be able to get some match fitness from the fixtures.
Any score is possible; even United’s poor forward play in recent games should still be able to get a goal. As it’s the home leg, a clean sheet will be crucial and it would be preferred that the tie is wrapped up before the away leg. A 3-0 score line should enable United’s youngsters to start in the second leg. Hopefully Rooney will score to start the goals rolling in.