Real Madrid will be aiming to get off the mark in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League when they host Belgian outfit Club Brugge on Tuesday night.
After three consecutive matches without a defeat, Real Madrid will be aiming to carry that form into the UEFA Champions League and register their first victory when they take on Club Brugge in their second Group A encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid’s European campaign was off to a horrendous start as they were beaten 3-0 by PSG in the opening game, which has put them at the bottom of Group A. Since that hammering, Los Blancos have won two of their three matches, while drawing the other one – a goalless stalemate against local rivals Atletico Madrid this past weekend.
Manager Zinedine Zidane will be hoping that his team carry that form into the midweek encounter and move away from the bottom of the standings with a victory. However, they will find it hard against a Club Brugge outfit that is yet to beaten in any competition this season (W10 D4).
Indeed, Philippe Clement’s side have made a very solid start to the season and head into Tuesday’s clash on the back of three wins in a row. Prior to that, the Belgian league leaders had played out a goalless draw against Galatasaray in their first Group A encounter last month. They will be aiming to get at least a point, if not all three from their visit to the Spanish capital.
Ahead of this enticing match-up between the league leaders of Spain and Belgium, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Real Madrid will have captain Sergio Ramos and fellow defender Nacho available for selection after the duo missed the PSG clash due to suspension. There is more good news on the injury front as Marcelo and Isco are back in contention for the Merengues. However, Ferland Mendy remains sidelined along with Marco Asensio.
Zidane is unlikely to make a whole lot of changes to the side that started in the Madrid derby this past weekend. Thibaut Courtois is a certainty to feature in goal for the hosts and will be protected by an unchanged back four of Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Ramos and Nacho, who is expected to be retained in the side despite Marcelo’s return.
Casemiro, who has been integral in Real Madrid’s recent run of solid displays, should continue at the base of the midfield, while Toni Kroos, who was Los Blancos’ standout player at the weekend is also expected to start. Luka Modric made his return from injury against Atletico and should start ahead of Federico Valverde and James Rodriguez, who hasn’t been named in the squad by Zidane.
Vinicius Jr. put in a fine display when he started against Osasuna last week, but is likely to be on the bench once again, with Eden Hazard getting another chance to kickstart his season. Star striker Karim Benzema should continue to lead the line for the hosts ahead of Luka Jovic.
Gareth Bale isn’t part of the 19-man squad named by Zidane for the game, meaning his place on the right flank will most likely be taken up by Spanish international Lucas Vazquez.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro; Vazquez, Modric, Kroos, Hazard; Benzema
There are question marks over the availability of midfield mainstay Eder Balanta, who missed Club Brugge’s weekend clash against Mechelen with an injury. Federico Ricca is another player who is unlikely to be involved for the Belgian league leaders in Madrid.
Manager Clement has used a 4-3-3 formation in domestic matches, but had set his team up in a 3-5-2 in their first Champions League clash against Galatasaray and is likely to stick with the same system against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet ought to continue between the sticks for the visitors. The three-man backline protecting the Belgian should comprise of Clinton Mata, Matej Mitrovic and summer signing Simon Deli. Winger Krepin Diatta should slot in as the wing-back on the right side, where he will need to be more responsible defensively. Eduard Sobol start up on the opposite flank.
Mats Rits will be in-charge of breaking up play and recycling possession in the heart of the park. He will have support from Club Brugge captain Ruud Vormer, while the forward drive from midfield should come from Hans Vanaken, who has netted 7 times in 14 matches across all competitions this term.
David Okereke is a certainty to start in the two-pronged attack for the Belgian giants. The second position will be a toss up between Emmanuel Dennis and loanee Mbaye Diagne. The latter could get the nod though, after scoring twice in the last game against Mechelen.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Mignolet; Mata, Mitrovic, Deli; Diatta, Vormer, Rits, Vanaken, Sobol; Okereke, Diagne
- Real Madrid and Club Brugge last met in the European Cup in 1976-77, with the Belgian side progressing 2-0 on aggregate (W1 D1).
- Club Brugge have failed to score in 50% of their 18 Champions League away games (9), including in four of their last seven (W1 D1 L5).
- Real Madrid failed to find the back of the net in their last two matches against Club Brugge. The Belgian outfit is one of three sides that they the Merengues have failed to score against in European competition, Ipswich Town (two games) and Arsenal (two games) being the other two.
- Club Brugge have kept clean sheets in each of their last four Champions League matches, they had only kept five shutouts in their first 33 games in the competition.
- Real Madrid have won all three of their Champions League home games against Belgian opposition. Their last competitive home defeat to a Belgian club came back in December 1969 against Standard Liege in the European Cup (W4 D1 L0 since).
Player to Watch
It has been a disappointing start to life in Madrid for the Belgian wing wizard, who arrived from Chelsea this past summer amid huge expectations. In his four appearances till date for Real Madrid, Eden Hazard is yet to score or assist a single goal and has looked well below his usual standards.
This past weekend against Atletico, the 28-year-old put in a forgettable display, lacking any sort of cutting edge and incision in the final third. There have been questions asked about Hazard’s fitness and physical shape, but there is no question about the quality that he possesses and he will be keen to start firing for his new club, starting from Tuesday.
Real Madrid 2-1 Club Brugge
Club Brugge come into the game having not been beaten even once so far in the 2019-20 competition. Philippe Clement’s men have won their last three matches, scoring ten goals while conceding just once and will not be pushovers by any means on Tuesday night.
Real Madrid will be out for redemption after the thrashing they received against PSG in their first Champions League clash. They have improved significantly since that defeat, especially in the defensive half, having kept a clean sheet in all of their subsequent fixtures.
It should be a tightly-contested battle at the Santiago Bernabeu, where the visitors will make things difficult for the hosts. However, given the quality that Real Madrid possess in all areas of the pitch, they should get over the line, handing Club Brugge their first defeat of the season.