Club Brugge will host Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 knock-out tie on Wednesday night. The defending Belgian champions were excellent during the group stages as they qualified ahead of Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. They only lost one of their group matches, which came after qualification was secured against Porto.
They now have to contend with another team from Portugal in Benfica. The side from the Portuguese capital are top of the Primeira Liga and have won four of their last five matches. Club Brugge on the other hand are out of form. Under new head coach Scott Parker they have won just one of their last seven games. They have managed to pick up mainly draws during that time, but for a club with such high standards this has been a disappointing run of form.
To make matters worse, it appears that Andreas Skov Olson will not be present for the first leg at least. The Danish international has been struggling with an injury and has not recovered in time. His quality will certailny be missed, especially for a side that is struggling for a goal scorer. Ferran Jutgla has made a recovery, but it is unlikely he will be fit enough to start. Regardless, he has also been experiencing a goal drought since his fast start to the season.
Perhaps Club Brugge will turn to Roman Yaremchuk, their record signing who joined from Benfica in the summer. He has really struggled for form this season, but against his former side he may find the extra motivation needed to really kick start his season. If not, Parker will likely go with Noa Lang in the central striker role.
This will arguably be the biggest test of Scott Parker’s short managerial career. Many dream of leading a side in the Champions League, and all eyes will be on the Englishman to see if he can get Club Brugge firing again when Benfica come to town.