Last chance to stay in a European competition! On Wednesday 24th November 2021 the Red Bulls must beat Club Brugge to keep their chances of finishing third in Group A alive. We take a look at our upcoming opponents ahead of this crucial fixture.
Club Brugge is one of the oldest, and behind RSC Anderlecht, the second most successful club in the history of Belgian football, having won the Jupiler Pro League on 17 occasions. Blauw-Zwart (Blue-Black) hold the record for most Belgian cup wins with eleven.
History in Europe
Brugge have a rich history in Europe, although they have never won a trophy on the international stage. Under the guidance of legendary Austrian coach Ernst Happel, Brugge were one of Europe’s best teams, and reached the UEFA Cup final in the 1975/76 season where they lost to Liverpool. In the 1987/88 season, Club Brugge reached the semi-final of the UEFA Cup.
In recent times, Brugge have competed in a European club competition in every season since 2014/15, with the only exception being the 2017/18 season. Their greatest success of the last few years is certainly when they reached the quarter-final of the Europa League in 2015. In each of the previous three seasons, Club Brugge have made it to the group stage of the Champions League.
Everything was going to plan for Club Brugge until early October, as they sat at the top of the league. But they’ve gone through a bit of a rocky patch since then, winning just two of their last seven league matches. They suffered a 2-1 defeat to KV Mechelen last Friday and are currently in third place in the Jupiler Pro League, and trail surprise league leaders Royale Union Saint-Gilloise by seven points.
Club Brugge also need to keep a close eye on the teams below them in the league to ensure they don’t slip out of the European places. Fourth-placed KV Mechelen and fifth-placed RSC Charleroi trail the Belgian champions by just one point.
Their Champions League campaign got off to a very promising start as they drew 1-1 with Paris Saint-Germain and won 2-1 in Leipzig, but they were then subject to two heavy defeats against Manchester City (5-1 at home, 4-1 away). However, a draw on Wednesday will secure a Europa League spot for Brugge, and a win will keep their chances of qualifying for the round of 16 of the Champions League alive!
Philippe Clement enjoyed success as a player before hanging up his boots and is making his name as a club legend. The former centre back spent ten years at the club he now manages between the years of 1999 and 2009, winning all domestic titles during his spell. Clement also represented his native Belgium at World Cup 1998 in France and the European Championships in 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Clement began his coaching career as a youth coach at Brugge, followed by spells as assistant and interim coach. After full time head coach roles at Waasland-Beveren and Genk, who he lead to the Belgian title in 2018/19, the 47-year-old returned ‘home’ and has been in charge of the Blue Blacks since.
Above all, Club Brugge boast an array of attacking talent. Wingers Charles De Ketelaere and Noa Lang are on top form so far this season. 20-year-old, home-grown talent De Ketelaere is Brugge’s top goalscorer this season with five goals, and Lang, who recently joined permanently from Ajax after initially joining on loan last season, has registered the most assists (6) at the club this season. Captain and midfielder Hans Vanaken is one of the main players in the side. The 29-year-old has already scored three goals in the Champions League in the opening four matchdays.
Former Bundesliga star Bas Dost is also finding some form again at the Belgian champions. After not featuring much during the opening weeks of the season, the former Wolfsburg and Frankfurt striker has scored four goals in his last three league appearances. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is also a notable name in this side. The veteran keeper is close to making his 50th appearance in European competition, and has also played 245 times in the Premier League.
The Jan-Breydel-Stadion was built in 1975 and holds up to 29,000 fans. It was also a host stadium for the 2000 European Championship and hosted four matches. The stadium belongs to the city of Brugge and is home to both Club Brugge and fellow top-flight team Cercle Brugge.