31.10.2022Champions League

Our next opponents: Brugge looking to win group

Club Brugge qualified for the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League on matchday four in the group stage with a 0-0 draw away to Atlético Madrid. The Flemish side is through to the knockout rounds of Europe's premier club competition for the first time in the club's history. After the 4-0 home defeat against Porto, the question for the Belgian champions at the BayArena on Tuesday night 1 November (kick-off: 18.45 CET) is whether they progress in first or second place. The Blue and Blacks produced a confidence boosting performance in the Jupiler Pro League at the weekend.

Club Brugge beat KV Oostende 4-2 on Saturday night. The team under coach Carl Hoefkens made life difficult for themselves after being two up at half-time thanks to goals from captain Hans Vanaken and striker Ferran Jutgla. First, Jutgla missed a penalty and then Oostende levelled with two goals in eight minutes. The former Hertha Berlin player Dedryck Boyata slipped up with both goals conceded. A misplaced pass from the 31-year-old in his own penalty area led to the first goal and then he gave away a penalty that saw Oostende level.

"the reaction you want to see"

"But the team reacted phenomenally after that," said head coach Carl Hoefkens. He asked himself after it was 2-2 whether his team would be able to come back "in terms of the mental stress and physical exhaustion." They could. Casper Nielsen (from the rebound from a penalty he took himself) and an own goal from the opposition saw Club Brugge win the game 4-2. "That's the reaction you want to see even when you're tired," said Hoefkens. After 15 games in the Jupiler Pro League, the Blue and Blacks are still in third place behind Royal Antwerp and league leaders KRC Genk.

The big Belgian club were doing even better up to matchday five in the group stage of the Champions League. Three wins, one draw and no goals conceded – was the record from four games. Then Porto came to the Jan Breydel Stadium after they had been beaten 4-0 in the previous meeting. However, Club Brugge had a bad night in front of their own fans on matchday five. Porto succeeded in inflicting a 4-0 win on the Belgian club. And that was a fair result. Winning the group ahead of the final matchday fell off the agenda.

Brugge's Problems with penalties

Brugge could have turned the game round after going a goal down. But similar to the clash with Bayer 04 when Patrik Schick was denied from the penalty spot, Porto's keeper Diogo Costa turned out to be a killjoy when he saved two penalties one after the other. First, he kept out a shot from Hans Vanaken. But the spot kick had to be retaken because a Porto player had encroached the penalty area. Costa succeeded in saving the second attempt from Noa Lang to keep his team in the lead (51'). Evanilson doubled Porto's lead six minutes later. And the visitors went 4-0 up on 70 minutes. "It definitely wasn't our night," said Brugge keeper Simon Mignolet after the convincing defeat. "It comes down to details in big games like that." Teammate Casper Nielsen added: "They were clinical in exploiting little mistakes of ours but it could have been different if we'd have converted the penalty."

three key players suspended

Talking about penalties: They appear – similar to the Werkself – to have become a small mental problem for Club Brugge. "Now there's more pressure on the next penalty taker and we’ll have to work on that in training," said Hoefkens.

The coach will have to manage without three key players in Leverkusen. Denis Odoi plus Raphael Onyedika and Abakar Sylla, who scored the only goal of the game against Bayer 04, are all serving one-match bans. There is also a question mark over striker Andreas Skov Olsen. The Dane missed the match against Oostende due to a hip problem. "But our squad is big enough to handle it," declared keeper Simon Mignolet. "And we definitely want to win our group."

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