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Champions League pre-match preview

Simon Hart returns with his pre-match preview as the Champions League group stage starts to reach the business end. From the battle of Britain at Anfield to a game of catch-up in London and Turin, it's all to play for

WORDS Simon Hart

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

Champions League pre-match preview
Blog

Champions League pre-match preview

Simon Hart returns with his pre-match preview as the Champions League group stage starts to reach the business end. From the battle of Britain at Anfield to a game of catch-up in London and Turin, it's all to play for

WORDS Simon Hart

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

You have to go back 30 years for the last time Rangers beat English opponents. It was in the autumn of 1992 that they defeated Leeds United home and away in a knockout tie in the first season of the Champions League era – two 2-1 wins that took them through to the group stage.

Since then, the Glasgow side have played four games against English opposition – Manchester United each time – and not scored a single goal (one draw, three defeats). Both the past and the present make them underdogs in the first match of their Anglo-Scottish double-header against Liverpool tonight. Last term’s Europa League finalists have neither a point nor a goal in Group A so far. Ryan Kent, the Rangers winger schooled at Liverpool from the age of seven and taken to Ibrox by Steven Gerrard, described their 4-0 loss at Ajax on matchday 1 as a “rude awakening”; a defence which has been missing John Souttar and Filip Helander then conceded three at home against Napoli.

Liverpool will be looking to kick on from a stuttering start

Rangers are the team who have allowed most opposition shots (42 in two games) so far in this campaign. They have won only 25.9 per cent of tackles, the second-lowest share among the 32 teams in the group stage. And they have looked vulnerable from set-pieces which doesn’t bode well against a Liverpool side who scored the most goals from dead-ball situations in last season’s competition – and beat Ajax at Anfield last time out with a late Joël Matip goal from a corner.

That said, Liverpool’s current struggle to recapture their customary intensity offers the visitors hope. A comparison of the Reds’ opening two games from last season’s group stage with their efforts on matchdays 1 and 2 last month shows a drop-off in interceptions (27 last season, nine this) and recoveries (121 last season, 101 this) and a rise in shots against (from 13 up to 21). Statistics do not tell the full picture but it is pretty clear last season’s runners-up are not defending as well as previously: they have kept two clean sheets in 10 matches in all competitions, and conceded the first goal in seven of them. Perhaps there is hope of a Rangers upset after all.

Chelsea, Juventus seek belated lift-off

Of the dozen teams still looking for a first win in the 2022/23 group stage, Chelsea are arguably the most surprising slow starters. Their solitary point so far in Group E (from a home draw with Salzburg) represents their worst start to a Champions League group stage since 1999/2000. On the bright side, they got their first victory under new manager Graham Potter last weekend – 2-1 at Crystal Palace – and host a Milan team who have won only once on their last nine Champions League visits to face Premier League opposition … when Hernán Crespo earned them a 1-0 success at Man United in 2005.

Graham Potter is looking for his first UCL with Chelsea

Over in Italy, Juventus’s stumbling start has comprised losses to Paris-Saint Germain and Benfica. They have won only 24% of their tackles – the lowest figure of the group stage so far – but, going into Tuesday’s Group H home fixture against Maccabi Haifa, they can at least take heart from having beaten Bologna at the weekend to end a five-match winless run in all competitions. Like Juventus, the Israeli side have no points as yet and are on an eight-match losing streak in the Champions League.

Along with the aforementioned trio of Juventus, Maccabi Haifa and Rangers, there are four other clubs still without a point: Porto, Plzeň, Marseille and Leipzig. A not-so-magnificent seven ...

Brugge benefit from leader Vanaken

When Club Brugge upset Bayer Leverkusen in Germany on matchday 1 it was easy to focus on firsts: Carl Hoefkens, overseeing from the sidelines, is in his maiden campaign as a head coach and this marked a winning start from his first Champions League fixture at the helm. Similarly, matchwinner Loubadhe Sylla, at 19, was playing his first match in the competition – and in the 42nd minute celebrated his first senior goal in club football.

A word, though, for captain Hans Vanaken, a 30-year-old now in his eighth season with Club. He has posted more touches and passes than any Brugge player as well as carrying the ball further than anybody aside from Sylla. With his experience he makes good decisions and embodies the impressive focus of a team yet to concede a goal in Group B, a team who react well on losing the ball and have been organised and disciplined in their defending.  

After winning 4-0 at Porto last time out, their next challenge comes at home against Atlético de Madrid this week. Atlético have won just three of their last 10 matches in the competition. If Brugge can get the better of Diego Simeone’s visitors, they will achieve a small milestone as the first Belgian team to win their opening three matches in a Champions League group stage.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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