Manchester United are away to Club Brugge in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie.
We asked Belgian football journalist Sven Claes (@svenclaes) some questions about tonight’s opponents.
Third in their Champions League group for the second year in a row, Club Brugge are back in the Europa League round of 32. Will they fancy their chances against this United side?
No doubt. Strong belief they can beat this Manchester United at home. Don’t forget they were already 0-2 at half time in Bernabeu. Due to personal mistakes and a red card it finished 2-2. So they already were very close to a huge stunt. In a sold out stadium the confidence will be very big.
It was a difficult group, of course, with PSG, Real Madrid and Galatasaray. Are we playing a better Brugge side than the team we beat 7-1 on aggregate in the 2015/16 Champions League play-offs?
For sure. The team of this season is nowhere near that team. Club Brugge is this season the best team in Belgium and they also showed that with very good football in the Champions League. This summer they bought Red Devil Simon Mignolet from Liverpool FC and they were chasing some very expensive strikers in Latin-America this winter, so with good management they are doing a very good job the last couple of years.
What kind of football with Brugge try to play against United?
I guess they will play in a 3-5-2, so with 2 attacker upfront and 3 defenders who also run a lot to help the team upfront, to surprise the opponent.
Who is the star player?
Two times winner of the Golden Boot in Belgium: Hans Vanaken. Excellent number 10 with two excellent feet. He gives passes nobody sees. A lust for the eye. A big loss for Club Brugge if he’ll be sold this summer. Also have an eye on right-back Clinton Mata.
Are there any players in the Belgian league that United should be looking at?
The best players from KRC Genk (Ally Samatta to Aston Villa and Sander Berge to Sheffield United) are already been sold this winter, but they still have Danish defender Joakim Maehle. From other teams? I would say Canadian midfielder Jonathan David (20) from AA Gent looks very promising.
And finally, in terms of media, how are United seen in Belgium at the moment?
It isn’t the Manchester United from years ago. Club Brugge have certainly chance to get a good result at home, and even at Old Trafford.