Club Brugge ready to test their mettle against Reds
Club Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will be looking for history to repeat itself when his side take on Manchester United at the Jan Breydel Stadion on Thursday.
The 31-year-old moved back to Belgium in the summer after almost a decade in the Premier League, first with Sunderland and then Liverpool.
Mignolet was part of the Merseysiders’ team which knocked United out of the Europa League, 3-1 on aggregate, at the last-16 stage in 2016, but he says that game won't play too much on his mind ahead of this particular tie.
“It’s a different game, of course,” Mignolet told reporters at the pre-match press conference. “That was a good memory. It was a great campaign for us to go to the final. It’s a completely different fixture tomorrow of course.
“We saw United play Chelsea [on Monday], where they showed they are a very good team.We don’t know which 11 players will play tomorrow, but what will be sure it will be a strong side that we’ll face.”
Brugge started the season in the Champions League, where they came third in a tough group containing Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
One particularly impressive result saw the Belgian league leaders draw 2-2 at the Bernabeu – a game in which they led for the majority – and Mignolet believes that performance proves his side can match the best.
“For us it’s a huge challenge to look forward to where we can try and compete with a great club in Europe and in England,” Mignolet added.
“We’ve shown in the Champions League that we can compete with top teams like Real Madrid and PSG now it’s an English team which poses a different challenge.
“We’ll look forward to it and let’s hope we can play a good game, of course.”
The Belgian side’s manager Philippe Clement – who played 16 games for Coventry City in the Premier League – added that Thursday’s game would be a different challenge to what his inexperienced side is used to in domestic football.
“Like you know we are first in the league, we play cup final in Belgium so in Belgium we are always the favourites,” Clement said. “Wherever we go. Every game we play, everybody is adapting to us.
“My team is really looking forward to a team that always attacks. Of course, we have nothing to lose in these games.
“There is more quality on the other side but we have a young squad, not so much experience.
“But it’s interesting to play these two games and for sure my players will become better to come out of those two games and we’ll see at the end how high we can reach.”
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