Roger Schmidt’s Benfica take on Belgian outfit Club Brugge tonight in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg.
We caught up Belgian football consultant and host of The Belgian Football Podcast Scott Coyne to get an insight into Benfica’s opponents.
Club Brugge and their mixed season so far
“It has been a disappointing season for Club. Domestically they have been dropping unexpected points, since the opening weeks of the season. They have not been able to go on any seriously consistent run this season. There is now a feeling that even with the belgian PO system (where points are halved) that they are too far off it now to challenge for the title. They are now openly admitting that retaining their title is probably beyond them. They have also been conceding too many goals to win the title.”
Manager Carl Hoefkens lost his job following a run of poor domestic results and former Fulham manager Scott Parker was hired at the end of December.
How Parker has fared so far this season
“Parker has been underwhelming and disappointing so far. Only 1 win in 7 for the former England international, the lone win has come against a side in the relegation zone. Parker has been tinkering with his starting line. He is searching for more defensive consistency and the right combination of defenders, including recalling Jack Hendry from Cremonese in Italy.”
Danger men to watch out for
“Two players to watch out for are Noa Lang who generally plays wide on the right, but Parker likes the idea of playing him as the lone striker. The other is striker Ferran Jutgla who has generally impressed before a recent injury. It will be interesting to see if Parker plays both as that would be expected, but his team selection has been odd recently as he gets to know his players better. Club have not had any sort of new coach bounce in any meaningful way.”
European dreaming in a disappointing season
“The UCL has been the shining light on their season so far – they have over achieved. Tactically Hoefkens really got it right in europe in a way that he couldn’t replicate domestically, which ultimately cost him his job. Fans are not feeling optimistic at the moment as things have got away from them. The pressure is off them in a way and that may help them go and express themselves, but Benfica are overwhelming favourites.”
A big thanks to Scott. You can find him on Twitter here: Scott Coyne and you can find The Belgian Football Podcast here as well as on all good podcast providers.