Manchester United are travelling to Belgium to take on Club Brugge in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off at the Jan Breydelstadion on Wednesday, 26 August.
The first leg was a one-sided affair as the Red Devils thumped the Belgian side 3-1 at the Old Trafford last week. United's new No.7 recruit, Memphis Depay, stole the show single-handedly with two sublime strikes and one assist to add to his hat.
Surprisingly, United were the first to concede at the Old Trafford and that too a self-goal from Michael Carrick, a free kick that deflected Carrick and beat Romero from the left bottom corner of the net. But Carrick made up for it in no time with a sublime through pass to Depay and the latter came up with an impeccable finish from just outside the box. The first half ended in a stalemate but in the second half, Red Devils had the possession most of the time and came up with two more goals (one more from Depay and one from returning Marouane Fellani).
Now, United will be coming into the second leg with a two-goal cushion. They are definitely the favourites in the second leg but if Brugge manages to score two goals against United then things would turn out to be different. But that is unlikely to happen as the odds are in favour of United.
"It is a difficult ground, and it is not a simple opponent. I have read in the papers in England that it is simple and it is a walkover, but it isn't like that. Brugge against Panathinaikos, they won 3-0 [in the previous round]. It is still a game, but because of our third goal we now have more confidence," United boss Louis Van Gaal told reporters before setting off for Belgium.
The only player who can make a difference in this all important fixture for Brugge is Victor Vasquez. He did play well in the first leg against the Red Devils at the Old Trafford last week but he would want his side to work harder and emerge victorious against United in the upcoming fixture. He was thoroughly disappointed with the loss they suffered last week.
"I'm disappointed by the first-leg result - that is clear - as we held on to a great first-leg result for so long. That final goal from Fellaini really makes it hard on us, however. But you never know in football. If we manage to score an early goal in Bruges, and if our 12th man starts backing the team 100 per cent, then we can go anywhere!" Vasquez told the media ahead of the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off on Wednesday.
By no means, Brugge can let United score in tomorrow's game. If they score those two goals that they are lacking and maintain a clean sheet, then United will be well and truly out of this season of UEFA Champions League as well. A draw would be suffiecient enough to put United into the league stages of the Europe's most coveted tournament. Brugge have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League since the 2005-2006 season.
"You have a small chance at home but it is going to be very difficult. We tried to play with our qualities, but we were missing a lot of players. If we have to miss our captain and central defender [for the second leg], with all our injured players, I don't see the solution to beat Manchester United," Brugge head coach Michel Preud'homme told reporters.
Manchester United: The Red Devils are likely to play the same team as they had played last week against Brugge. Phil Jones is yet to recover from his illness. Fellaini will also be available for this match.
Club Brugge: They will be missing the services of Brandon Mechele who saw the red card in the last leg. Timmy Simmons is injured as well, so two changes are imminent for the Belgian side.
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Depay, Herrera, Mata; Rooney.
Club Brugge: Bruzzese; De Fauw, Castelletto, Duarte, De Bock; Claudemir, Vormer, Vanaken; Diaby, Vazquez, De Sutter.
Manchester United vs Club Brugge: Wednesday, 26 August (19.45 pm BST, 12.15 am IST, 2.45 pm EST) at Old Trafford.
Live TV coverage in India, the UK and the US will be on Ten HD and Ten Action, BT Sport Europe and Fox Sports 1 respectively.