Real Madrid will look to end their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign on a high when they take on Club Brugge on Wednesday.
The curtains will fall on the group stage of the UEFA Champions League with the final eight fixtures of Matchday 6 being played out on Wednesday. Club Brugge play hosts to Real Madrid at the Jan Breydel Stadium, looking to clinch the third spot in Group A and book their place in the Europa League knockout stages.
Club Brugge has unsurprisingly battled for the third spot in a difficult Group A, which has also had PSG and Real Madrid in it. Thus far in their group stage campaign, the Belgian outfit are without a win, but with three draws in five games, they have a one-point advantage over Galatasaray.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, have improved a great deal since a slow start to their participation in the Champions League group stage. After amassing just one point from their first two games, Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last three, with only two late strikes by Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia denying them all three points against PSG last time out.
The reverse fixture, played at the Santiago Bernabeu in October, saw Real Madrid come from two goals down to hold Club Brugge to a 2-2 draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Philippe Clement does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Real Madrid, with Matej Mitrovic the only player on the treatment table due to an ankle injury. The Club Brugge boss, though, will be without the services of Clinton Mata and Krepin Diatta, who were both sent off in the Matchday 5 clash with Galatasaray.
Clement should line his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet taking his place in goal. Mata’s absence should thrust Odilon Kossounou into the starting lineup, with the teenager starting as the makeshift right-back.
Federico Ricca will likely move out to the left side of the Brugge defence, with Brandon Mechele having Simon Deli as his central defensive partner. Eder Balanta will be deployed in front of the backline, with the 26-year-old playing the Anchor Man role and looking to stifle Real Madrid in their build-up play.
Brugge captain Ruud Vormer will provide addition defensive support in the middle of the park, with Hans Vanaken being tasked with transitioning from defence to attack. With Diatta suspended, Emmanuel Dennis will likely be deployed on the left side of the attack, with Siebe Schrijvers and Lois Openda taking their usual places in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Mignolet; Kossounou, Mechele, Deli, Ricca; Balanta; Schrijvers, Vanaken, Vormer, Dennis; Openda
Like his counterpart, Zinedine Zidane does not have any new fitness issues hampering his preparations. Against Club Brugge on Wednesday, the Real Madrid boss will continue to be bereft of the services of five first-team players, with Eden Hazard and Marcelo the major absentees.
In addition to the quintet who are on the sidelines due to their respective injuries, Zidane will also be without Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos in Bruges after resting the duo for Wednesday’s clash. In the absence of Ramos, the fit-again Nacho is likely to come into the starting lineup.
Raphael Varane and several other regulars could also be given a breather, with two difficult games on the horizon. In Varane’s stead, Eder Militao will get another chance to impress, having done so on his last start, against Alaves two weeks ago. Alvaro Odriozola and Ferland Mendy will likely be the full-back pairing, with Alphonse Areola starting between the sticks for Real Madrid.
Casemiro is a part of the travelling squad to take on Club Brugge, but is due a rest. In his place, the ever impressive Federico Valverde will line up as the holding midfielder, with Luka Modric taking up the spot left vacant by the Uruguayan. With Kroos rested, Isco should start in the three-man midfield, where he will be charged with providing the forward thrust.
Vinicius Jr. was outstanding in a rare start for Real Madrid against Espanyol and should be given another opportunity on Wednesday. Karim Benzema is likely to be another regular who will be rested, with Luka Jovic starting in his stead, while Gareth Bale ought to fill out the remaining spot in the side.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Areola; Odriozola, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Valverde, Isco; Bale, Jovic, Vinicius Jr.
- Club Brugge came out on top in their only other meeting with Real Madrid at home, beating Los Blancos 2-0 in the 1976-77 European Champion Clubs’ Cup second round return leg.
- Real Madrid have lost three of their last eight UEFA Champions League matches, conceding three or more goals in each of those defeats, and 15 in the eight-game sequence.
- Club Brugge have failed to score in three of their five Group A games, and five of their last seven matches in the UEFA Champions League proper.
- A 2-0 win at Anderlecht in October 2001 is their only away win against a Belgian side in their last eight games (D1 L6), although they are unbeaten in five matches (W3 D2) against Belgian clubs, home and away.
- Club Brugge’s home record against Spanish visitors reads W5 D3 L4; the Blauw-Zwart have won only one of the last eight (D3 L4), a 1-0 defeat of Valencia in the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg (1-3 aggregate). That is also their last victory against a Spanish club, home or away; their record since is D2 L4.
Player to Watch
After a stunning debut campaign with Real Madrid, 2019-20 has been a tale of frustration for Vinicius Jr. Rodrygo has usurped his compatriot following a strong start to life as Real Madrid player, leaving Vincius to fend for scraps, as far as game-time is concerned.
However, after a superb showing against Espanyol, Vinicius can now hope to secure more first-team minutes going forward. It also helps that Eden Hazard is sidelined for the foreseeable future, and if he can manage to impress once again against Club Brugge, his fortunes are likely to improve. A big game for the talented winger.
Club Brugge 0-3 Real Madrid
Real Madrid are a much improved side from the last time they locked horns with Club Brugge. The team is playing with much more swagger, enabled by the form of players like Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Karim Benzema.
Valverde ought to start once again on Wednesday, and his presence should make things difficult for the Club Brugge midfielders. Brugge will likely trouble their visitors early on. However, one should expect Real Madrid to find their feet early on, and with plenty of players looking to make a point, a driven collective performance is on the cards.
The Hard Tackle, therefore, predicts a 2-0 win for Zinedine Zidane & co., making it a memorable for Champions League debut in the Real Madrid goal for Alphonse Areola.