Club Brugge: Opposition preview
Manchester United welcome Club Brugge to Old Trafford for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg this Thursday at 20:00 GMT.
Brugge have yet to win a game on English soil, and lost 3-1 on their only previous trip to the Theatre of Dreams, back in August 2015.
The Belgians, however, will be quietly confident of progressing, after a strong first-half showing during last week’s 1-1 draw at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
We’ve gathered together everything you need to know about the opposition, ahead of Thursday’s second-leg encounter…
HOW BRUGGE ARE SHAPING UP
Brugge edged out fourth-placed Sporting Charleroi 1-0 on Sunday, courtesy of Eder Balanta’s first-minute goal, to extend their unbeaten league run to 13 league games.
The Blauw-Zwarte made four changes to the side that drew 1-1 with United last week, with Ruud Vormer, Eduard Sobol, Charles De Ketelaere and Ikoma Lois Openda replacing Mats Rits, Odilon Kossounou, Percy Tau and Maxim De Cuyper.
Unfortunately for the Belgians, captain Vormer and last week’s goalscorer Emmanuel Dennis picked up injuries at the weekend, and haven’t travelled to Manchester. Balanta, meanwhile, is suspended after receiving his third yellow card of Brugge’s European campaign in the first leg.
In the absence of Vormer and Dennis, Philippe Clement’s side’s primary attacking threat will come from on-loan Brighton and Hove Albion forward Percy Tau, as well as reigning Belgian Footballer of the Year Hans Vanaken.
The former caused United’s backline problems with his pace in the first leg, while stand-in skipper Vanaken had a quiet game by his standards, but has 12 goals in 27 games this season.
BRUGGE’S EUROPEAN RECORD
Club Brugge travel to M16 having won just one of their five away games in European competition so far this season. They did, however, claim a creditable 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, having earlier led 2-0.
This is the fifth time the Belgian side have featured at this stage of the competition, and they have won only one of their previous four ties – against Aalborg, on their way to the quarter-final in 2015. As previously mentioned, the First Division A league leaders have never won a game on English soil, drawing two and losing 10 of their previous 12.
THE MANAGER’S VIEW
Brugge head coach Philippe Clement was pleased with his team’s performance in the opening game and played down any criticism of youngster De Cuyper. The full-back, making his European debut, played a part in Anthony Martial’s goal with a loose throw-in.
"I'm very happy with the game my team played, especially the young guys,” Clement said. “De Cuyper made a very good debut. He is the type of player that gives everything during training and deserved a spot in the starting XI. His mistake can happen. That's football.”
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