Manchester United will take on the Belgian side Club Brugge in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League play-off at the Old Trafford on 18 August, Tuesday.
United could not feature in the last edition of the UEFA Champions League as they finished seventh in the league table under the guidance of David Moyes. Since Louis Van Gaal has been at the helm of the players at United, they managed to finish fourth in the league table and thus will have to overcome the Belgian side to qulaify for the league stages of the UEFA Champions League. After almost a year, Champions League action returns to Old Trafford on Tuesday.
United started off on a positive note this summer as they have won their first two fixtures of the English Premier League (EPL) 2015-2016 season. In their first match, they defeated Tottenham Hotspur and in the second they outplayed Aston Villa. After winning two back-to-back games, the Red Devils have gained just the kind of momentum they were looking for ahead of their Champions League play-off game against Club Brugge. If United manage to beat Brugge, they will take their unbeaten streak to three matches when they go against NewCastle United in their next Premier League fixture on Saturday.
"There's a lot of pressure because our aim is to reach the Champions League and that is what Arsene Wenger mentioned last year. These kind of matches are difficult. We've drawn Brugge and they can defend very well. They can attack also, so it shall be a difficult match – that is why the pressure is high. The board, the players and the fans want to participate. We have to show our quality against a good team. It is not an easy game," United boss Van Gaal told the media at a press conference ahead of the match against Club Brugge.
Striking option has been a point of concern for United manager Van Gaal. Captain Wayne rooney has got his centre forward position after Memphis Depay and Juan Mata have taken care of the wings. But Rooney has been goalless for quite some time now and he has not looked promising in this summer so far. So Van Gaal will certainly be looking for more goals in this fixture but it will not be easy against Brugge, who have a good defense line.
"It's going to be a big night on Tuesday. It'll be a big two games in fact - they could help set us up for the season. What we have to gain [from winning the tie] is very important, but you approach both matches as any other games. We want to win on Tuesday and not concede. Hopefully we can get a good start and take a lead to their place. We'll be ready," Michael Carrick told MUTV in an interview.
Meanwhile, Club Brugge cannot be termed as an underdog in this fixture as they have managed to beat a strong Panathinaikos side to qualify for this Champions League play-off stage. Brugge is one of the most popular clubs in Belgium as they have wo the Belgian League 13 times but their overall record in England has been poor.
They have travelled 11 times and out of these, nine times they have suffered defeats. Belgian teams overall holds a poor record against the English clubs. But this will be first time that Club Brugge will be taking on Manchester United in the European Championship and who knows they might just come up with a surprise.
"Yes, I took Mourinho from Van Gaal. I had given the profiles of four candidates to the president.We looked at them and we decided to take Jose. "Of course, I was the one who proposed Jose to be the manager also after he came to the club. It's a good story. It was his first job as manager and after that he became the great Mourinho," Club Brugge manager Michel Preud'homme told the media ahead of their away fixture against the Red Devils.
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Depay, Herrera, Mata; Rooney.
Club Brugge: Bolat; Meunier, Engles, Durate, De Bock; Vormer, Simons, Vanaken; Dierckx, Izquierdo, Diaby.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Schedule: Tuesday, 18 August (19.45 pm BST, 12.15 am IST, 2.45 pm EST) at Old Trafford.
Live TV coverage in India, UK and US will be on Ten Action and Ten Sports, BT Sport Europe and Fox Sports 1 respectively.