Manchester City will be aiming to take a step closer to qualifying for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League when they face Club Brugge this midweek.

The third set of group fixtures of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League kick off this week. And last season’s finalists, Manchester City will be in action on Tuesday night when they travel to Belgium to lock horns with Club Brugge.

After having a slightly iffy start to the new season, Manchester City seem to be back on the right track. However, they have had to go through a tough run of fixtures that saw them beat Chelsea narrowly (1-0), lose to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and then play out an entertaining 2-2 draw versus Liverpool.

The Cityzens did bounce back to winning ways this past weekend when they defeated Burnley 2-0. And Pep Guardiola will be hoping to carry that form forward when he takes his team to Bruges.

Club Brugge, meanwhile, have made a fine start to the campaign. Just one defeat in 11 league outings and four points from their first two Champions League encounters against PSG and RB Leipzig means that Philippe Clement’s men are in a solid position to upset the applecart in Group A, after all, they are a point above the Cityzens in the standings.

Following a 1-1 draw prior to the international break, Club Brugge defeated Kortrijk 2-0 last time out and would be gunning for another upset win come Tuesday night at the Jan Breydel Stadium. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at both teams ahead of this crucial Champions League clash.

Team News & Tactics

Club Brugge

Club Brugge will be boosted by the return of Eder Balanta, who missed the weekend clash after returning late from international duty. Manager Philippe Clement now has a full-strength squad at his disposal and will look to pull off a big victory against the Premier League champions on Tuesday.

The hosts ought to set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who will need to be at his best to keep the Cityzens at bay. Jack Hendry and Stanley N’Soki should form the centre-half partnership for Brugge, with Clinton Mata and Eduard Sobol slotting in as the full-backs, who will largely stay back and provide defensive support to the centre-backs.

The returning Balanta ought to walk back into the lineup, at the expense of Ruud Vormer, who impressed in the win against Kortrijk. Balanta will be in charge of screening the defence while fellow midfielder Mats Rits should provide the attacking impetus from the centre of the park. Star man Hans Vanaken will slot in as the No. 10 and provide an additional goal-threat for the home team.

The creative spark will come from the wide areas where Kamal Sowah and Noa Lang, who is being linked with Arsenal and Liverpool, will look to engineer opportunities for the main striker Charles de Ketelaere.

Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Mata, Hendry, N’Soki, Sobol; Sowah, Rits, Balanta, Lang; Vanaken; de Ketelaere

Manchester City

Manchester City will have to make do without the services of in-form forward Ferran Torres who suffered a foot fracture while on international duty with Spain. Brazilian duo Ederson Moraes and Gabriel Jesus is available for selection after missing the weekend win against Burnley owing to a late return from international duty.

Pep Guardiola will set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of the returning Ederson between the sticks. Kyle Walker ought to start at right-back, at the expense of Joao Cancelo, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is in line to start on the left-hand side. Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte are set to form the centre-back partnership, with John Stones making way for the former.

Rodri ought to feature at the base of the three-man midfield unit once again ahead of captain Fernandinho. The Spaniard will be key to maintaining Manchester City’s control on the proceedings while he will also need to ensure that Hans Vanaken has a quiet outing. Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom were on target at the weekend, will occupy the two remaining midfield slots.

Gabriel Jesus ought to slot in on the right flank now that he is available, with Riyad Mahrez set to make way for the Brazilian. Phil Foden could move into the false-nine role for the Premier League champions while club-record signing Jack Grealish occupies the left-wing, from where he will look to score goals and create chances.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Jesus, Foden, Grealish

Key Stats

  • This is the first-ever meeting between Club Brugge and Manchester City in European competition.
  • In all European competitions, Club Brugge are winless in 12 matches against English opponents (D3 L9) since beating Chelsea 1-0 in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1995.
  • Manchester City have won five of their six European matches against Belgian opponents, losing the other 2-0 against Standard Liege in November 1978 in the UEFA Cup.
  • Club Brugge are unbeaten in their last four group stage games in the UEFA Champions League (W2 D2), picking up eight points in the process.
  • Manchester City were beaten by PSG in their previous Champions League game, losing 2-0 at the Parc des Princes. As manager, Pep Guardiola has only lost consecutive away games in the competition once previously – with Bayern Munich.

Player to Watch

Phil Foden

The 21-year-old Englishman has been at the heart of all the good things Manchester City have done in the new season. Foden, so far, has produced a tally of two goals and two assists from seven appearances across all competitions.

A key indicator of the importance that he holds in this team is the fact that since the start of the last season, Foden has been involved in more goal-ending sequences of play than any other Manchester City player in the UEFA Champions League (10). During this period, only Erling Haaland (13) and Kylian Mbappe (12) have been involved in more such sequences.

On Tuesday night, Foden will once again have a pivotal role to play as Manchester City look to get back to winning ways in the Champions League and take a step towards the knockouts.

Prediction

Club Brugge 1-3 Manchester City

Club Brugge are on a seven-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. Their draw against PSG and win over RB Leipzig indicate that they are not a team to be taken lightly. However, in Manchester City, they will be coming up against a team that oozes quality across all areas of the pitch and is starting to click after a dodgy start.

The performance against Liverpool and the result versus Burnley this past weekend show that things are falling into place for Pep Guardiola’s side. And even though it might not be as straightforward, the champions of England should be able to pick up all three points in Bruges on Tuesday.

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