Club Brugge vs Benfica – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Wednesday 15th February 2023
Jan Breydel Stadium
As part of our Champions League predictions, we cast an eye over Benfica’s visit to the Jan Breydel Stadium. Club Brugge have won just one game since the World Cup break – can Benfica take home a priceless lead? Read on with our Club Brugge vs Benfica prediction.
Club Brugge vs Benfica Match Preview
Club Brugge started Group B very well. A home win against Leverkusen and an emphatic 4-0 hammering of Porto in Portugal saw them on top of the group. They followed this with another impressive win at home to Atletico Madrid, making it nine points out of nine. They looked set to top the section but only picked up two points in the second set of games. A mirrored scoreline of the Porto game was sandwiched between draws in Madrid and Leverkusen. In hindsight, Brugge were the underdogs in the section. They did very well to qualify, given that Porto, Leverkusen, and Atletico are all excellent European clubs (as are Brugge, to be fair).
Domestically, things have not been plain sailing for the Belgian club. New coach Scott Parker replaced departing coach Karl Hoefkans on New Year’s Eve. He subsequently lost his first league game. Under his stewardship, Brugge have drawn five of the six games since, with his only win being a 2-1 victory over Zulte Waregem. Brugge sit in fourth place in the Jupiler Pro League table, a massive 20 points behind leaders Genk. Due to the peculiar play-offs nature of the league, they could still win the title, but their form has been less than stellar.
Benfica dominated Group H alongside PSG. Both clubs took control of the group and consigned Juventus and Maccabi Haifa to a distant third and fourth. Ultimately, the two clubs could barely be separated. They had identical points, head-to-head results, goal difference, and goals scored. Five second-half goals in the second half of the last game in Israel put the Portuguese club first, thanks to scoring nine away goals in the group to PSG’s six.
Domestically, things are going well for Benfica. They are top of the form guide alongside Porto over the last six games, having won five and drawn one – their only blip being a stalemate in the Lisbon derby. They were, however, eliminated in the quarter-final of the Portuguese Cup last week – on penalties to Braga. Nonetheless, the Eagles sit atop the Primera Liga table, with a five-point gap to Porto. They will look to continue their impressive form in Belgium.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Skov Olsen, Jutgla
Will Not Play:
Might Not Play: Ramos
Will Not Play: R. Silva
Club Brugge vs Benfica Lineups (Predicted)
Club Brugge (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Meijer, Mechele, Hendry, Mata; Rits, Onyedika; Lang, Vanaken, Buchanan; Yaremchuk
Benfica (4-2-3-1): Vlachodimos; Grimaldo, Otamendi, A Silva, Bah; Florentino Luis, Chiquinho; Aursnes, Joao Mario, Neres; Guedes
Club Brugge vs Benfica Analysis
The midfield contest will likely be crucial in this match. Both teams are adept at controlling the ball and sit atop their respective league’s possession tables – Brugge with 58.2 per cent and Benfica with 65.8 per cent. Benfica have also completed the most overall passes in Portugal and are more than 1,000 short passes ahead of second place. Therefore, it is clear that Benfica can play good, controlling, ball-dominant football.
Despite being the home team, Brugge will likely be content to let Benfica have more of the ball. They know Benfica have better players and must try to defend their goal and look for chances on the counter. Florentino and Chiquinho are complete players in the middle for Benfica. They can do the game’s dirty side well – covering, tackling, and intercepting. However, they are also decent playmakers from deep.
They will link up with the likes of Mario and Aursnes. The latter is on the graphic as a left-winger, but he is more auxiliary in this position. He will come inside to give a numerical advantage in midfield. The loss of Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea was not ideal, but Benfica can cope. As Benfica try to control the game, the Brugge defensive midfielders (likely Onyedika and Rits) must cover space and not allow gaps to appear where Benfica can progress the ball to the final third. Vanaken is crucial here; he is an attacking midfielder who loves to go forward, but he can play centrally, too. He must drop into midfield so that Onyedika and Rits are not swarmed and overrun.
We also expect the Brugge wingers to play deep often and support their full-backs defensively, altering their 4-2-3-1 to more of a 4-5-1, which squeezes the space and doesn’t allow the Benfica midfield playmakers to find passes. Generally, Benfica are likely to have a fair bit more of the ball. How will they use it?
Benfica clearly carry a threat in attack. They scored 16 goals in the group stage and have scored 51 goals in 20 games in the league this season, for an average of 2.55 per game. There is concern that top goalscorer Goncalo Ramos will not be fit for this game, as he is doubtful. If he doesn’t make it, Guedes will likely take his place. The on-loan Wolves man is a tricky customer, as are Mario and Neres. These players can dribble and pass their way into the box to make things happen. Winger Rafa Silva will also likely miss out; he is a significant loss.
Benfica have taken 343 shots in Portugal this season, so they are undoubtedly unafraid to shoot. Grimaldo is a massive threat from left-back, and he was sensational in the group stage. His rampaging up the left-hand side could be pivotal for Benfica, and the Brugge midfielders and Mata at right-back must be diligent in their defensive work. Benfica have several players who can create chances and magic moments out of thin air, so Brugge must not switch off for a moment; otherwise, they could find themselves conceding one or two goals.
Brugge will carry their own threat when they can win the ball. Their midfielders must press Benfica and create transitions where they can break against a disorganised Benfica structure. Unfortunately for Brugge, three of their finest attacking players – Skov Olsen, Buchanan, and the impressive striker Jutgla who was so good in the group stage – are doubts.
We think Buchanan will make it. He and Lang, on the other side, must get forward whenever they can. They must be released from their defensive work on occasion to use their pace to try and get into the spaces Grimaldo and Bah leave. If they do this, they can come inside, onto Otamendi and Silva, and try to take them on or shoot.
There is a little story here: Brugge signed the Ukrainian striker Yaremchuk from Benfica in the summer, and he will likely start in the probable absence of Jutgla. Yaremchuk is a powerful and physical striker, and he must try to hold the ball up and bring others into play. If the wingers and Vanaken can create chances for him, the striker must be clinical and take them. As stated, Vanaken is vital in this match as he links the midfield and defensive lines with the attack. His positioning and technique will be crucial if Brugge are to get anything.
Brugge have done brilliantly to get this far, and they will be thankful they didn’t draw the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich from the group winners. Still, Benfica are strong opposition in their own right, and they travel to Belgium in solid form. They will look to try to kill this tie before they take it back to the Estadio da Luz. Brugge’s best bet to get a positive result here is to play in more of a low block and concede possession, luring Benfica onto them and trying to win the ball and break into the vacated space.
However, we think Benfica will be too bright for this tactic. Benfica have superior players and are adept at taking care of the ball and playing in tight spaces, as many Iberian teams are. We see them playing their way through Brugge and creating chances (teams did create opportunities against the Belgians in the group stage) while keeping the door locked at the back. We were going to predict 1-0 Benfica, but they are a dangerous team. If they are on song, they can put plenty of sides to the sword, so we will be relatively bold and back them to score a couple.
Club Brugge 0-2 Benfica
Club Brugge vs Benfica Betting Tip – Benfica Odds:
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