This is probably the least high profile of all the Champions League last 16 ties but is a major opportunity for both teams to progress into the Quarter Finals. Benfica surprised everyone by winning a group containing the likes of PSG and Juventus, whilst Club Brugge shocked everyone by qualifying at all! They beat off Atletico Madrid & Leverkusen, although were toppled by Porto eventually. Now they face Portuguese opposition once again and with a new manager Scott Parker who was the surprise choice to take over from Carl Hoefkens who was sacked in December.
For this somewhat unexpected Champions League clash, I’ve covered all the stats from their Belgian Pro League and Liga NOS campaigns so far, including xG, goals, shots, corners, cards and fouls. Use the numbers alongside my Stats Pack Guide to get the best use and chances of a bet builder winner.
Club Brugge have two major injury concerns to attackers Ferran Jutgla and Andreas Skov Olsen. Both are the leading goalscorers for the team in all competitions and Jutgla is also the leading assist maker. Winger Tajon Buchanan is also a doubt but more likely to feature. Manager Scott Parker is probably going to have to bring Yaremchuk into the side upfront in addition to Noa Lang playing on the left wing.
Benfica are in good health ahead of this match. Their big loss was of course at the end of the transfer window where key man Enzo Fernandez departed to Chelsea for huge money. Chiquinho has taken his spot in the team and should lineup alongside Florentino Luis. The big question is who will start upfront, Goncalo Guedes or Goncalo Ramos? Wolves loanee Guedes is expected to get the nod. Rafa Silva and David Neres will also battle it out for the central attacking midfield spot so there are plenty of options available to the manager.
Club Brugge average 1.72 goals per game and 1.20 against. These figures are very close to their xG and xGA numbers. They fire 14 shots per match and only 10 against. The Belgians have an impressive 5.36 SOT in each game which will certainly contribute towards their excellent goalscoring record.
It is noticeable the low number of corners that Club Brugge have conceded per match (3.28) They have obtained 5.68 corners per match themselves. Cards have been high in their fixtures with their opponents especially racking up the numbers (2.76). They have picked up 2.28 cards per game themselves.
Benfica average 2.55 goals per game and just 0.60 against. They also have impressive xG and xGA numbers. The one statistic that really stands out is just 1.65 SOT against per match. They have fired in an average of 17.10 shots per match themselves and regularly pepper the opposition goal.
Benfica average a whopping 8.15 corners in each fixture and concede just 3.05. Cards have been fairly high in their games at 2.05 for and 2.75 against. It is worth noting these are domestic statistics though. They get to beat up several awful teams in the Liga NOS. This is a different scenario in the Champions League.
Player shots and shots on target
Three players set to be involved from the start average over 2 shots per game for Club Brugge: Yaremchuk, Lang and Nielsen. The Ukrainian striker Yaremchuk has a very respectable SOT average over 50% from 2.27 shots per 90 mins. Midfielders Lang and Nielsen are less accurate but not too bad at 0.82 and 0.77 per 90 mins. Others to watch out for in the shots market are Vanaken and Buchanan who average 1.73 and 1.48 shots per 90 mins respectively.
Goncalo Ramos averages a massive 4.06 shots per 90 mins with a decent 1.73 on target. When he is on the field, he is worth looking out to fire in those attempts. Silva averages 3.21 shots per 90 mins and Guedes 2.69. Neither are especially accurate around a 30% SOT ratio. Wingers Mario and Aursnes could also be worth looking at in the shots market. Mario averages double the number of attempts compared to Aursnes 2.38 vs 1.27.
Player goals and assists
Hans Vanaken will be a key man for Brugge here. Of those set to play he tops the scoring charts with 8 goals and also 4 assists. Nielsen has 6 goals and Noa Lang netted 4 times. Left back Meijer has four assists and is worth watching out for on that side.
Joao Mario and Goncalo Ramos have 12 goals each and are the top scorers. Rafa Silva has 6 goals and 2 assists. The top assister is left back Grimaldo with 6. David Neres is one to look out for with 4 goals and 4 assists. He could potentially start but is probably more likely to be used as a bench weapon.
I tried my best, but you unfortunately can’t get passing data for the Belgian Pro League. And I wasn’t going to watch all their games counting up the passes.
Benfica average 66% possession domestically but that figure drops to only 49% in the Champions League. Club Brugge average 47% of the ball in Europe. A lot will depend on the tactics but Florentino Luis, Nicolas Otamendi and Chiquinho are the most likely to rack up significant passes for the Portuguese visitors.
Club Brugge cards
Abakar Sylla leads Club Brugge for cards on this list but is likely to be on the bench here. Of the probably starters, midfielder Onyedika and right back Odoi are worth watching for fouls and cards. Midfielder CasperNielsen is another candidate in this department.
Benfica draw a lot of fouls from their opponents. They are a strong technical side with plenty of agility and trickery. Attacking midfielder Rafa Silva dribbles a massive 5.11 times per 90 mins, and winger Joao Mario is another who has a high dribbling rate. Whoever starts upfront, be it Ramos or Guedes is sure to be a key matchup vs the Club Brugge centre backs Hendry and Mechele.
Matchups to watch
Raphael Onyedika vs Rafa Silva
Denis Odoi vs Joao Mario
Jack Hendry vs Goncalo Guedes
Centre back Nicolas Otamendi leads Benfica for cards, going in the book 8 times. He produces 0.89 fouls per 90 mins. Rafa Silva has 6 cards and the trio of Luis, Aursnes and Joao Mario have four each. Benfica are the sort of team not especially known for producing high numbers of fouls but could easily go into the book for unsportsmanlike conduct and dissent.
With Yaremchuk starting upfront then his matchup with Nicolas Otamendi is the obvious one this side of the field potentially being the most important. Both wingers Buchanan and Lang could cause issues, whilst in the middle of the park Nielsen gets fouled 1.58 times on average. Florentino Luis could match up with him, whilst Noa Lang vs Alexander Bah could be an interesting one on the left hand side of the Club Brugge attack.
Matchups to watch
Nicolas Otamendi vs Roman Yaremchuk
Florentino Luis vs Casper Nielsen
Alexander Bah vs Noa Lang
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
There’s certainly some names you won’t have seen before there, so I’ll give you a bit of a head start on picking you bet builder. Here’s a few selections I thought stood out from the pack and looked like value in the bet builder markets.
Club Brugge vs Benfica
Benfica shocked a lot of us, topping their group and going unbeaten with the likes of PSG and Juventus. They did the double over Juventus and Maccabi Haifa, and managed two 1-1 draws to PSG home and away.
They finished top edging PSG on away goals scored, and that meant a lucky draw of Club Brugge over Bayern Munich.
Benfica are having a strong campaign so far domestically and in Europe, and are 5 points clear of Porto in Liga NOS.
Brugge on the other hand are 4th in the Belgian Pro League and already 20 points off first placed Genk.
With Goncalo Guedes joining in summer and already notching 2 goal contributions, they’ve improved their attack.
Brugge on the other hand have lost two of their main threats, Ferran Jutgla and Martin Skov Olsen, to injuries. They’re either playing with winger Noa Lang up top, or Roman Yaremchuk will deputise – he has just 2 goals in 16 appearances this season.
Nicolas Otamendi is reaching the end of his career, and with that slowing up comes a desperation to get somewhere in the Champions League.
They’ve had a lucky draw and he’ll be pushing his side to ease through the first leg against Club Brugge. With that, he’ll want to make an early mark on the Belgian team’s front men.
He’s shown his physicality already this season with 8 cards in just 18 outings in Portugal. That’s despite making just 0.89 fouls p/90.
The Benfica captain will be consistently in referee Davide Massa’s face, and if he doesn’t get booked for a rash tackle, he could easily go in for descent or unsportsmanlike conduct.
If it’s for a foul, the Argentinian has the big figure of Ukrainian striker Roman Yaremchuk to nudge in aerial duels, as well as Noa Lang and Tajon Buchanan on either wing. They’re fouled an average of 1.72 and 2.54 times p/90.
Just like Otamendi, Raphael Onyedika has been in the referee’s book in a large number of games domestically. 6 cards in 18 games.
He’s much more of a defensive enforcer, and loves to make a foul in defensive midfield. No player across both sides makes more fouls p/90 than him (2.08).
With the likes of Rafa Silva, Joao Mario and Chiquinho to deal with in the midfield alone, he’s going to have to make his fair share of fouls. They draw 2.90, 1.77 and 1.48 fouls p/90 respectively.
The referee tonight will only help our chances with the last two selections. And that’s why 4 or more cards seems great value too.
Davide Massa has averaged 5.08 cards this season, an increase from his career average of 4.73.
Club Brugge average 5.04 cards per game domestically, with 2.28 brandished in their direction.
Benfica games are almost as high, averaging 4.80 cards per game. Even in a league they dominate, they average over 2 cards per game themselves.