On Wednesday, February 15, the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 will take place between Club Brugge and Benfica at the Jan Breydel Stadium. On Friday, February 10, Brugge and Union St. Gilloise played to a 1-1 draw in the Belgian Pro League. Hans Vanaken scored in the first half. That brought their overall winning streak to six games. In contrast, Braga beat Benfica on penalties to knock them out of the quarterfinals of the Taca de Portugal.
After finishing one point behind the winners of Group B, Porto, the hosts have qualified for the knockout stages for the first time. Benfica, on the other hand, won Group H over heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, completing an unbeaten group-stage campaign. Last year, they made it to the quarterfinals but lost to eventual champion Liverpool (6-4 on aggregate).
Brugge has only lost once this season, but their last six games have been drawn. Additionally, their last four home games have been drawn. In four of their last six games, Blauw-Zwart has scored less than 2.5 goals.
In contrast, Benfica has scored at least twice in six of their last seven games and has kept a clean sheet in four of their last five games. However, Brugge has not lost in their last seven games, and given that they have the advantage of playing at home, a draw could occur.
Prediction: Club Brugge 2-2 Benfica
Although Brugge and Benfica have previously competed against teams from Portugal and Belgium, this will be their first meeting. In 15 competitions, Brugge has faced Portuguese opponents, winning five and losing seven. Twenty-two times, Benfica defeated Belgian opponents, winning 12 and losing 5.
This season, Benfica has only lost twice, both times to Braga. In the Champions League group stage, Brugge had the second-best defensive record, allowing just four goals in six games. Benfica had the fourth-best attacking record, scoring 16 goals while allowing seven goals in six games.
Tajon Buchanan (knock), Andreas Skov Olsen (hip), and Ferran Jutgla (back) of Club Brugge are all considered doubtful due to minor injuries and will be evaluated prior to kickoff. Antonio Nusa, along with Noa Lang and former Benfica striker Roman Yaremchuk, could be added to the starting lineup to play on the right flank in the event that Buchanan is ruled out.
Abakar Sylla will be competing with Jack Hendry and Brandon Mechele for a starting position at center back, while Hans Vanaken, the captain, and key playmaker, is expected to continue playing in the center of the field. Since Benfica is in good health right now, Schmidt will have a healthy team ready for the trip to Belgium.
Chiquinho and Florentino Luis have been playing center-midfield together frequently since the big-money departure of Enzo Fernandez in January. On Wednesday, both players are expected to remain in the team. Rafa Silva will try to start in an advanced midfield position ahead of either Aursnes or David Neres, and Goncalo Ramos will compete with Goncalo Guedes for the offensive lead.
Club Brugge (4-3-3):
|United States||Fox Soccer Plus, ViX|
|France||Molotov, Free, L’Equipe, L’Equipe Web|
|Nepal||SONY TEN 3 HD, Sony LIV, SONY TEN 3|
|India||JioTV, SONY TEN 3 HD, SONY TEN 3, Sony LIV|
|Sri Lanka||Sony LIV, SONY TEN 3, SONY TEN 3 HD|
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