Benfica hosts Club Brugge on Tuesday night at the Estádio da Luz for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 fixture. Benfica holds a handsome two-goal advantage after sweeping the first leg in Bruges and seems destined to progress to the quarter-finals. However, Club Brugge won’t let their maiden appearance in the Champions League knockout stages pass without a fight.
The Portuguese side has been in red-hot form throughout the season, with their only defeat since the new year coming in a cup tie against Braga on penalties. Currently, they are on an eight-match winning streak in Liga Portugal. Meanwhile, Club Brugge is having an underwhelming season domestically. They are ranked fourth in the Belgian Pro League and head into this match with only one win in their last five matches.
Below, we take a look at some of the stats that depict what the first leg looked like and comprehend how the return leg could play out.
Overall performance of the teams in Europe
The viz above shows the percentile rank of both teams’ stats compared to each other as well as to other teams in the UEFA Champions League 2022–23. It can be seen that Benfica has better overall stats than Club Brugge in almost all the departments. Notably, the Portuguese side has superior stats in terms of goals, shots, accurate passes, possession rate, and xGA. Alternatively, there are a few indicators in which the Belgian team fares closely or is at par, such as opponent penalty area entries, recoveries, opponent xG per shot, and PPDA.
Attacking stats from the last encounter
The two visuals above show the shot maps of both teams from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 contest. Benfica penetrated the opposition penalty box with effect and took nine out of the 13 shots inside the box. Joao Mario scored one from the penalty spot, and David Neres added the second from the edge of the box. In comparison, Club Brugge only managed to take four shots despite playing at home. They struggled to breach the Benfica lines, as most of their attempts came from a distance. Benfica ended the match with a high xG of 2.89 compared to the lowly 0.15 xG accumulated by Club Brugge.
Overall, Benfica have averaged 14 shots per match with 41.6% accuracy in the UEFA Champions League this season. Meanwhile, Club Brugge attempts 7.57 shots per match with 39.6% accuracy.
Passing and progressive gameplay
Benfica enjoyed 53.74% possession and made 572 passes (86.54% accuracy) compared to the 46.26% possession by Club Brugge along with 453 passes (79.69% accuracy). The Portuguese side utilised the flanks and central regions more frequently to advance forward and attempted 80 progressive passes against the 59 made by the Belgian side.
Overall, Benfica crafts 32 positional attacks per match while playing in Europe, with 28.4% leading to shots. They make 55.36 passes to the final third with 82.8% accuracy. Alternatively, their Belgian opponent attempts 46.14 final-third passes (a 62% accuracy rate) and generates 23.29 positional attacks, with 19% leading to shots.
Winning possession in the final third
The two visuals above compare both teams based on the number of times they regained possession in the final third. Both teams are close, but Benfica holds a slight advantage in this area. They made 20 counter-pressing recoveries along with five dangerous recoveries that led to shots. In total, Benfica won possession 16 times in the final third. On the other hand, Club Brugge made a similar number of counter-pressing recoveries but only managed one dangerous recovery. They made 12 high regains but they were further away from the penalty box in comparison.
Overall, the Portuguese side averages 82 recoveries while playing in Europe, compared to the 78.29 recoveries made by Club Brugge.
Joao Mario has been one of the top players for Benfica in the current Champions League campaign. In his seven appearances thus far, he has scored five times and assisted once. The Portuguese midfielder brings a genuine threat going forward with his combination of attacking and passing skill sets. Four of his goals have come from penalties, highlighting his composed mentality and sublime accuracy in front of the goal. Club Brugge’s players will have to be more aware of the amount of space available for Joao Mario in the final third, especially at the Estadio da Luz.
Benfica should be able to name a strong line-up despite missing Julian Draxler and Mihailo Ristic through injury. With important players like Goncalo Ramos and Rafa Silva available, it should not be much of a worry for the home side.
Meanwhile, Club Brugge will be without the services of Andreas Skov Olsen and Jack Hendry due to injury. They will also miss Brandon Mechele because of his suspension. With a few key names set to miss out, the rest of the Club Brugge players will have to step up massively to overturn the deficit from the first leg.
With a spot in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at stake, the second leg of Benfica vs Club Brugge will be an interesting matchup to glance at. The Liga Portugal giants remain the firm favourites to progress and will have the support of the Benfica faithful. However, the Belgian side is still in the tie and has a slim chance of making it through. Club Brugge will have to deliver a special performance in an extremely tough away fixture to overturn the deficit and etch their name in the history books.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine