Club Brugge and Benfica meet in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday 15 February.
As expected, Benfica are firm favourites to win this clash, having been unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions.
Club Brugge, meanwhile, will hope to create a huge upset with a win in the home leg, atleast
Here’s who we think will make a major impact over two legs clash between Club Brugge and Benfica:
Our first choice is without doubt Benfica’s talisman Joao Mario. The former Sporting Lisbon star will be key in maintaining his side’s balance in midfield over two legs.
However, he has to be careful in terms of his discipline as a yellow card in the first leg will see him suspended for the second leg in Portugal.
An undisputed starter for Club Brugge, striker Ferran Jutgla has scored eight goals and provided four assists in 22 league games.
In the Champions League group stages, Jutgla played all six games, scoring two goals and providing two assists in two games against Porto and Atletico Madrid.
Benfica have to be vary of his presence in Club Brugge’s attack.
Benfica’s classic number 10, Rafa Silva is at the center of everything positive about the Portuguese side’s attacks.
The Euro 2016 winner has scored 11 goals and provided seven assists in 30 appearances in all competitions this season.
In the Champions League group stages, Silva scored four goals and provided an assist in his six games.
If Club Brugge can minimise Silva’s impact, they could turn the tie in their favour, that’s how important he is to Benfica’s attacking prowess.
Rarely do we expect a goalkeeper coming into such a list. However, Club Brugge will need Simon Mignolet to be at his best if they are to qualify for the quarter-final of the Champions League.
The Belgian shot-stopper kept clean sheets in five of Club Brugge’s six Champions League group games, conceding just four goals.
If Mignolet is in form, it could be a nightmare couple of outings for Benfica.
Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi is Benfica’s leader in defence. The reason we are including him in this list is based on his vast experience in tricky situations.
Otamendi will face Jutgla in Club Brugge’s attack and it will be a battle of experience vs prime and we think experience will prevail.
The centre-back is a master at organising his defense, a leader and also a goalscorer in key situations. He is sure to have an impact in this clash over two legs.
Club Brugge predicted starting XI:
Mignolet; Boyata, Mechele, Meijer; Buchanan, Sowah, Vanaken, Sobol; Nielsen, Jutgla, Lang
Benfica predicted starting XI:
Vlachodimos; Bah, Antonio Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Aursnes, Florentino; Neres, Rafa Silva, Joao Mario; Goncalo Ramos
Which players from each team will miss the second leg if they get a yellow card in this game?
Club Brugge: Buchanan, Mignolet, Nielsen
Benfica: Florentino, Goncalo Ramos, Joao Mario
Club Brugge and Benfica’s results in their last six games in all competitions (most recent first)
Club Brugge – D D W D D D
Benfica – W W W W D W