Preview: Manchester United to continue winning run against Club Brugge; Fernandes and Ighalo to show their class?

Club Brugge -v- Manchester United

UEFA Europa League

Jan Breydel Stadium, Brugge

Thursday 20 February 2020, KO 17:55 GMT

Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov Assistants: Dmitri Zhuk, Oleg Maslyanko Fourth Official: Denis Scherbakov 

VAR: Marco Guida Assistant VAR: Michael Fabbri

Manchester United will return to UEFA Europa League action on Thursday evening when they travel to Belgium to face Club Brugge in the round of 32 at the Jan Breydel Stadium. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to guide his team into the round of 16 of the competition this season as it is one of two chances they will have to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season; winning this competition or finishing inside the top four of the Premier League.

United beat Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening, the second time they have done so at the stadium this season, the third time they have beaten Frank Lampard’s team this season – scoring eight goals, conceding just one. Solskjaer will be happy to see him team get a league double over Chelsea for the first time in more than 20 years, boosting the squads confidence after what has been a poor season so far. The last time United faced Brugge, almost five years ago, they beat them twice.

Form: United may not be the team in the best form in this match but they have faced better competition; three wins, one draw and two defeats whereas Brugge are undefeated with three wins and three draws in their last six matches.

Manchester United: WDWWLL

Chelsea 2-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W, Tranmere Rovers 6-0 W, Burnley 2-0 L, Liverpool 2-0 L

Club Brugge: WDWWDD

Waasland-Beveren 2-1 W, Standard Liége 0-0 D, Zulte-Waregem 2-1 W, Antwerp 1-0 W, Sporting Charleroi 0-0 D, Kortrijk 2-2 D

Top Scorers: United have scored more goals than Club Brugge this season but that means nothing when they go head to head. I expect United to reign supreme in what will be the third match between the two clubs.

Manchester United Goals: 19 – Marcus Rashford, 13 – Anthony Martial, 10 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, 1 – Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United have had a mixed season regularly taking one step forwards and two steps backwards. The 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Monday evening could be another step forward but they need to ensure they do not go backwards, like they have at different stages this season. Kicking on from here and working towards the goal is needed. Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo will go a long way to helping those goals become achievable.

Club Brugge Goals: 16 – Hans Vanaken, 11 – David Okereke, 8 – Emmanuel Dennis, Krépin Diatta, 4 – Mbaye Diagne, Siebe Schrijvers, Percy Tau, 3 – Simon Deli, Mats Rits, Ruud Vormer, 2 – Éder Balanta, Federico Ricca, 1 – Charles De Ketelaere, Brandon Mechele, Loïs Openda

Club Brugge have done well this season, at least in the Jupiler Pro League and currently at the top of the table nine points clear of Gent. They have the longest winning run in the league; four matches and have a nine match unbeaten run and have lost just one league match this season. They have reached the Belgian Cup final next month, which is another positive, however, in the Champions League, three draws and three defeats saw them knocked out into the Europa League.

Team News: Five players out for United with Grant, Rashford, Pogba, Tuanzebe and Fosu-Mensah out but McTominay could be fit for a place on the bench.

United will be without at least five players for the trip to Brugge on Thursday. Lee Grant (wrist), Marcus Rashford (back), Paul Pogba (ankle), Axel Tuanzebe (thigh), and Tim Fosu-Mensah (thigh) remain on the sidelines. Scott McTominay could be available in the squad for this match. Victor Lindelof was missing against Chelsea due to illness, so couldn’t be out for another match. Nathan Bishop, the third choice goalkeeper, could be on the bench with David De Gea being rested.

At this moment in time, Club Brugge have no injuries to players so look to be facing up against United with a full squad. However, there are two players that would be suspended for the second leg at Old Trafford if they receive a booking on Thursday evening; Éder Balanta, Loïs Openda. United have only been beaten on one Europa League match this season, which was when Solskjaer rotated many of his first team players for the trip to Astana, losing 2-1. Brugge may need to put in a lot of work to get the better of them.

Predicted Starting XI: Ighalo to start for United for the first time, partnered with Martial with Fernandes just behind them?

Solskjaer may not have the available depth in the squad to make many changes against Brugge on Thursday evening. Scott McTominay could be fit enough for a place on the bench, which would be good for United not having to rely on Fred and Nemanja Matic in each match, giving them a break. I would like to see Anthony Martial and Odion Ighalo start up front with Bruno Fernandes just behind them, running the show.

Match Prediction: United and Club Brugge have met twice before with United winning both matches. Again Belgian teams, United have won seven times, drawn once and lost twice – the last defeat in October 2000.

United and Club Brugge have played a total of two matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 2015. United have won both matches which were played during the qualification rounds of the UEFA Champions League during the 2015/16 season. At Old Trafford, United won 3-1 with a own goal by Michael Carrick putting Brugge ahead then a brace from Memphis Depay followed by a goal from Marouane Fellaini put United in the driving seat to reach the group stages.

Away from home at the Jan Breydel Stadium, United won 4-0 with a hat-trick from Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera scoring the final goal of the match. United beat the Belgian side 7-1 on aggregate to reach the group stages of the Champions League. United have always done well against Belgian teams in Europe, playing a total of ten matches, winning seven, drawing once and losing twice – scoring 32 goals, conceding nine.

Club Brugge 0-3 Manchester United

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.