Manchester United will be aiming to qualify for the next phase of the UEFA Europa League when they take on Club Brugge in their Round of 32 second leg this week.
Manchester United will play hosts to Belgian outfit Club Brugge on Thursday night in the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League, with a place in the Round of 16 of the competition at stake.
The first leg of the tie, played in Bruges last week ended in a 1-1 draw with Anthony Martial cancelling out Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis’ goal for the hosts. Manchester United were not good enough in Belgium on last Thursday but bounced back with a strong performance against Watford in the Premier League, beating them 3-0 at home.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are unbeaten in their last six fixtures across all competitions (W4 D2) and the manager will be hoping that his team are able to carry forward that momentum and earn a place in the Last 16 stages of the UEFA Europa League.
Following the 1-1 draw against Manchester United, Club Brugge also returned to winning ways as they defeated Charleroi 1-0 in the Belgian Jupiler League to consolidate their position at the top of the table.
Philippe Clement’s side are undefeated in their last fourteen matches in all competitions (W8 D6) and will back themselves to come out on top at Old Trafford, after putting in a positive display in the first leg.
Team News & Tactics
The big news for Manchester United is the return to action of Scott McTominay, who made a substitute appearance against Watford. Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Lee Grant remain sidelined for the hosts while Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah will not be involved as they still work towards reaching peak fitness.
Solskjaer used a three-man backline against Brugge last time out but having switched to the 4-2-3-1 formation against Watford, the Norwegian is expected to stick with the same setup on Thursday. There will be a few changes made to the side that started at the weekend, starting from goal where David de Gea will be replaced by Sergio Romero.
Eric Bailly is likely to start from the get-go in defence for Manchester United partnering up with Harry Maguire. Diogo Dalot failed to make much of an impression in the first leg and is unlikely to feature here with Aaron Wan-Bissaka likely to start as the right-back again while the in-form Luke Shaw should start on the left ahead of Brandon Williams.
McTominay is in line to start in the middle of the park against Brugge on Thursday night after making a brief came at the weekend. The Scotsman is likely to be paired up with Brazilian midfielder Fred with Nemanja Matic likely to be given a breather here.
Bruno Fernandes has made a blazing start to life in England and should continue in the No. 10 role for Manchester United against Club Brugge. Flanking the Portuguese playmaker on either side ought to be Mason Greenwood and Daniel James, both of whom looked good in the Watford game. Anthony Martial is once again likely to spearhead the United attack, as Odion Ighalo waits for his full debut.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Martial
The Belgians have been dealt with a double blow heading into the game as Ruud Vormer and goalscorer from first leg Emmanuel Bonaventure have both been ruled out after picking up injuries at the weekend. Krepin Diatta is expected to recover from his injury though, but it is unlikely that he will start while Eder Balanta is suspended.
🆕 Kapitein Ruud Vormer en aanvaller Emmanuel Dennis reizen niet mee af naar Manchester. Beiden zijn onvoldoende hersteld van een contact in de match tegen Charleroi. Ontdek hier de 22 namen. #MNUCLU pic.twitter.com/wEPwAuslt8
— Club Brugge KV (@ClubBrugge) February 25, 2020
Clement is expected to stick with the 3-4-1-2 formation he used in the last game against Manchester United with former Liverpool star Simon Mignolet, who got an assist in the first leg, set to continue between the goalposts. The three-man backline for the visitors is likely to comprise of Clinton Mata, Brandon Mechele and Simon Deli.
Odilon Kossonou is expected to feature as the right-sided wing-back for Brugge, but Eduard Sobol is likely to get the nod on the opposite flank ahead of the 19-year-old Maxim van Cuyper, who started in the first leg against Manchester United.
The defensive duties in the middle of the park will fall to Mats Rits, who will be tasked with keeping an eye on the dangerous Bruno Fernandes. Partnering him in midfield should be teenager Charles De Ketelaere, who will provide the forward thrust. Hans Vanaken, who has scored 16 goals this season, should take up the attacking midfield slot for the visitors.
In the absence of Bonaventure, Percy Tau is likely to move into the centre-forward slot. David Okereke, who was an unused substitute in the first leg, could be in for a starting berth at Old Trafford. Krepin Diatta could be used as an impact substitute by the manager late on.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Mignolet; Mata, Mechele, Deli; Kossonou, Rits, De Ketelaere, Sobol; Vanaken; Tau, Okereke
- Manchester United have hosted Club Brugge once previously in a European game, winning 3-1 in a Champions League qualifier in August 2015.
- Club Brugge have never won an away European match in England (including qualifiers), drawing two and losing 10 of 12 previous visits. Their most recent game was a 2-1 defeat against Leicester City in November 2016 in the Champions League.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 12 home UEFA Europa League games (W10 D2) since losing to Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao in March 2012.
- Manchester United have kept five clean sheets in their last six matches across all competitions. The only game during this run where the Red Devils conceded was the first leg against Club Brugge.
- Anthony Martial has scored three goals in his last four European matches for Manchester United, having scored just three goals in his previous 26 European games for the Red Devils.
Player to Watch
The arrival of the Portuguese midfielder has definitely had a galvanizing effect on this Manchester United side. Fernandes, in his manager’s words, has added the missing X-Factor to the team and it is showing in their performances of late.
Fernandes has already been involved in three goals for Manchester United in four games in all competitions, opening his goalscoring account for the club against Watford last time out. Having not started in the first leg against Club Brugge, the 25-year-old is in line to feature from kick-off on Thursday and he will have an important role to play if United are to progress to the next round.
Manchester United 2-0 Club Brugge
Club Brugge are on a 14-game unbeaten streak heading into Tuesday’s encounter and having given a good account of themselves in the first leg, will be in confident mood. However, the absence of Emmanuel Bonaventure is likely to have a negative impact on their chances.
Manchester United, on the other hand, looked very impressive in their win against Watford and are now unbeaten in their last six contests. The 1-1 result in Belgium last week means the Red Devils have their noses slightly in front thanks to the away goal.
With Bruno Fernandes making the impact that he has and the form that Anthony Martial is in, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side should go in as the favourites, more so considering that they will be playing at home. And hence, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting Manchester United to notch up a win and progress to the next round.