Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Manchester United V Club Brugge
Tuesday 18th August. 7:45PM. BT Sport Europe
After a rare one-year absence, Manchester United are back in European football’s elite competition. However, the Red Devils still face a one more obstacle before securing their return to the group phase, starting with a potential banana skin against Belgian outfit Club Brugge.
Last year’s competition just didn’t sound right without the red half of Manchester involved. In truth, they are someway short of the quality needed to lift the trophy, but nobody could argue that their return isn’t good for football and the Premier League.
It should be an intriguing return for the Red Devils to say the least. Bring it on!
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Old Trafford Expects
After missing out on European football altogether in 2014/15, the Premier League’s most successful club will be bitterly determined to enjoy a good Champions League. A return to this competition was the sole aim of Louis van Gaal’s maiden year. In 2015/16, though, they will be expected to push on and edge closer to their former glory.
This is now starting to look like a Van Gaal side, with the additions of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin have added excitement while right-back Matteo Darmian looks a very shrewd piece of business. As far as this competition is concerned, the experience of Bastian Schweinsteiger could prove to be the biggest influence by the summer signings.
The Red Devils should be in good spirits after picking up wins in each of their opening two Premier League matches. Van Gaal will also be pleased to have seen clean sheets, especially after the highly publicised goalkeeping situation as well as last season’s poor defensive record.
However, the hosts will want to score more than the single goal that they managed against both Tottenham and Aston Villa. If they are firing on all cylinders, finding the net shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Belgians Out To Cause Major Upset
Michel Preud’homme’s side know that they face an uphill battle in this crucial first leg encounter, but they will be pleased with their performances so far this season and can harbour genuine hopes of upsetting the odds-on favourites.
Brugge claimed a 2-1 win on Friday night to take their domestic return to seven points from a possible 12. Moreover, the visitors will be in buoyant mood after knocking out Panathinaikos in the last round of Champions League qualifying. The trip to Old Trafford signals a huge step up, but they won’t have anything to fear.
The Belgians don’t have too many well-known faces, although a couple of young defenders are breaking into the national team setup. Nevertheless, there is some decent quality in this side and they shouldn’t be ruled out completely. However, there is no doubt that they will need to bring their A game if they are to stand a chance of winning over two legs.
An away goal would be fantastic for the visitors and their travelling fans. If they can sneak a draw, they’ll have every chance of securing their progress in next week’s return. Whatever happens, it should be an exciting fixture.
Manchester United V Club Brugge Betting Tips
Unsurprisingly, Manchester United head into Tuesday’s contest as the overwhelming favourites at odds of ¼ with Bet365. Meanwhile, the Belgians can be backed at 9/1 if you fancy them to cause an upset. The draw is available at 5/1.
Van Gaal might opt to rest a few players, but there is no chance of the hosts underestimating this challenge. The Red Devils will be determined to secure a big lead ahead of next week’s reverse clash, so that they can play a weakened side then.
Manchester United have won both of their previous matches via a half-time lead. There’s nothing to make us think that won’t happen again here.
HT/FT: Manchester United/Manchester United @ 5/6 with Coral
The Belgian visitors might have the odd moment of joy, but Van Gaal’s side have looked comfortable at the back so far. Even if there are changes to personnel, the Red Devils will fancy a clean sheet.
At the other end, we’d fancy them to score enough goals to kill the tie. We’re backing 3-0.
Manchester United to win 3-0 @ 7/1 with Paddy Power