On the hunt for the first UCL points! On Tuesday 28th September, RB Leipzig welcome Club Brugge to the RB Arena. The Belgian champions are not to be underestimated, having picked up a point in a 1-1 draw against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé’s Paris Saint-German in their opening group stage game.
Brugge have won the Belgian top flight the past two seasons and currently sit top of the table in this campaign. Find out what we can expect from Tuesday’s opponents.
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.
The side from West Flanders have enjoyed a spell of particular dominance since the 2015/16 season, having won four league titles between then and now. Last season saw Brugges open up a 16 point lead at the top of the table, but only won the league narrowly in the play-offs after finishing level on points with KRC Genk. The Belgian league system sees teams’ points totals halved after the main round, with the top four teams then going on to compete in a group with home and away fixtures.
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 in the 1975/76 season, the Belgian side reached the final of the UEFA Cup only to lose 3-2 in the first leg at Anfield after taking a 2-0 lead. The second leg ended in a 1-1 draw. Two years later, the side reached the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup, only to be defeated once again by Liverpool – a 1-0 defeat at Wembley stadium.
1987/88 saw the side reach the semi-final of the UEFA Cup, where they were knocked out by Espanyol over two legs: a 2-0 home win in the first leg was followed up by a 3-0 AET loss in Barcelona. Four years later, Brugge reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup once again. This time their opposition were German side Werder Bremen. Despite a 1-0 home win in the first leg, the Belgian team fell to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg which marked the end of their campaign.
The current Champions league campaign is the club’s ninth in their history. The team has never made it further than the Group Stage.
The best performance in the club’s recent history was reaching the quarter final of the Europa League in 2014/15, when a goalless first leg was followed by a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Philippe Clement’s side have enjoyed a strong start to the Belgian top flight this season, picking up 18 points from nine games and occupying first place in the table.
Brugge have suffered one defeat so far this season, a heavy 6-1 loss to KAA Gent on Matchday 6 towards the end of August. The club’s record in all competitions is six wins, four draws and one loss, inclduding a Belgian Super Cup victory over Genk and a 1-1 draw in the Champions League against PSG thanks to a goal from captain Hans Vanaken.
In their most recent game, Clinton Mata scored to secure a 1-1 draw against OH Leuven on Friday evening.
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.
Captain Hans Vanaken is one of the main players in the side. The 29-year-old midfielder registered a goal and three assists for Belgium in the most recent international break. Winger Noa Lang was the club’s top scorer in the previous season and made his loan from Ajax a permanent move in the summer. Another one to watch is Charles De Ketelaere, who has scored the most league goals for the club in the current season.
With former Bundesliga star Bas Dost and 2019 Champions League winner Simon Mignolet and Brazilian Wesley, who returned to the club on loan after previously joining Aston Villa, the Brugge side certainly has a few significant names in its ranks.