Saturday, 8 August 2015

United draw Club Brugge in Champions League playoffs

United will play Club Brugge over two legs for a place in the group stages of the Champions League after Friday's draw pitted us against the Belgian outfit.

The Reds avoided the tricky looking hurdles of Lazio and Monaco, and although Brugge appear easy pickings on paper, they should not be underestimated.

Runners up in their league last term, they won the Belgian cup and are managed by Michel Preud'homme (widely considered to be his country's greatest ever player and goalkeeper). 

They edged out Greek side Panathinaikos 4-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round to reach the play-off stage.

The first leg will be played at Old Trafford on Tuesday 18th August with the return at the Jan Breydel Stadium on Wednesday 26th August.
United have never played Club Brugge at any level, but do have a history of facing Belgian opposition in Europe, including a club record 10-0 win over Anderlecht in the 1956-57 European Cup.
Brugge have a decent European pedigree of their own, having made it to the 1975-76 UEFA Cup final (losing to Liverpool) and the 1977-78 European Cup final (again narrowly losing out to Liverpool). 


In his press-conference on Friday, United manager Louis van Gaal was quick to big up the Belgians, and said that they should not be taken lightly. 

LVG said:

"Club Brugge are a good side, they finished second in the Belgian league last year and also reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League so they shall be a tough opponent.
"It will be nice to go back to Belgium, my debut as a player for Antwerp was against Brugge.
"We have to be confident against any team, we are determined to progress in the competition as the Champions League is the expected level of Manchester United."


The Reds will need to be wary of the creative talents of midfield playmaker and captain Timmy Simons and top scorer from last term, Jose Izquierdo. 

In the other play-off "League Route" ties, Valencia face Monaco, Sporting Club drew CSKA Moscow, Lazio play Bayer Leverkusen and Rapid Vienna take on Shakhtar Donetsk. 




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