Thursday night sees the third instalment of our Europa League Group D campaign and we welcome to St James’ Park, Club Brugge Koninklijke Voetbalvereniging, thankfully more commonly known in England as FC Bruges.
Much like previous opponents Bordeaux and ourselves, Club Brugge have reached the final of this competition before, as well as the final of the European Cup, but unlike us and the French, they didn’t win the competition, defeated by Liverpool in 1976 4-3 on aggregate. They won’t win it this season either, though they’ve probably got more chance of winning it than Liverpool.
Who Manages Them?
Georges Leekens, ex player, manager and management consultant according to his website, www.georgesleekensknowseverythingthereistoknowabouteverything.com
Leekens played for Brugge for 9 seasons in their 1970s heyday and has returned as manager for a second spell, over 20 years after his first spell ended. He loves a couple of gos at a job does Leekens, he’s also managed Belgium twice, Cercle Brugge twice, Royal Excelsior Mouscron twice and Kortrijk twice. “Sounds like he’s been busy”, you might ask but that isn’t the half of it. He’s managed 8 other clubs as well, including two different ones in Brugge, plus Lokeren and the Algerian national team. This is his 20th managerial post in a 28 year career and in most of them he’s lasted about as long as Martin O’Neill would in a ‘sitting still’ competition.
Super speedy new signing from Standard Liege, Mohammed Tchite. He scored 89 goals in 231 appearances in previous seasons in the Jupiler Pro league, and for Racing Santander in Spain’s La Liga, so he’s obviously not as Tchite as he sounds. Danish Midfielder Jesper Jorgensen came in from Gent, fellow Dane Jim Larsen from Rosenborg and Macedonian forward Ivan Trickovski from APOEL, the only one who really cost any money.
Rumour has it that he ended up at Brugge by mistake, coach Leekens looking for a bit of wing play in his team asked his Eastern European scouts to find him someone with skill who liked to play wide and one of them phoned back and said “Ivan-Trickovski-winger.” How Trickovski he is, we’ll have to wait and see.
A Special Mention For?
Carlos Bacca, scorer of 13 goals in 19 games so far since his January transfer window move from Columbia and likely to be their main threat tonight if he plays. He’s been on fire this season and so far justified the 1.5million euros price tag which had mystified so much of the Columbian media for a player previously unproven at the top level. They shouldn’t have been surprised. It was Club Brugge’s previous head coach Christoph Daum who bought him, the same Christoph Daum who was going to take over as German national coach after Euro 2000 but his contract was annulled after press reports of cocaine-fuelled orgies with prostitutes. At least we know where most of the 1.5 million euros went now.
Club Brugge are top of the Belgian league but haven’t won a league game since the end of September and have conceded 4 times in recent games at Bordeaux and OH Leuven. A home win against Maritimo by two goals sees them only a point behind us in third place in Europa League Group D but it is generally their home form which has got them where they are, both domestically and in Europe. That might be enough to do well in Belgiu, but it won’t be enough to qualify for the next stage of the Europa League.
Are We Going To Win?
With a decent strength team out NUFC should win this comfortably. Cheer the lads to victory tonight and send this lot home battered and Brugged.