Club Brugge will welcome Benfica to the Jan Breydel Stadium for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 encounters on Wednesday night. The hosts finished second in Group B, collecting 11 points from their six matches to progress to the knockout stages. This is Club Brugge’s maiden appearance at the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. The visitors, on the other hand, qualified for the KO stage as the winners of Group D, going unbeaten and taking 14 points in total. Benfica’s last appearance in the round of 16 was against Ajax last season, whom they beat 3-2 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals against Liverpool.
Club Brugge are ranked fourth in their domestic league and heads into this fixture after playing out two consecutive draws. Meanwhile, Benfica were knocked out of their domestic cup competition after losing to Braga on penalties, but are on an excellent run of form in Liga Portugal with four consecutive wins. Below, we look at the stats of both teams from the current season to comprehend how this matchup could play out.
Club Brugge vs Benfica: Overall performances in the UEFA Champions League
Club Brugge won three, drew two, and lost one match in the group stages of UCL 2022–23 against the likes of Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, and Atletico Madrid. They have scored seven goals in total and conceded only four. Their best performances came against Porto and Atletico Madrid, whom they beat 4-0 and 2-0, respectively. The viz above compares the stats of the team against all other teams in the current season of the UCL. It can be observed that Club Brugge has a decent rank in some of the attacking and defensive indicators. Notably, these are indicators like opposition xG per shot, PPDA, and goals. Meanwhile, the team has performed reasonably in the possession department based on the accurate passes indicator.
Benfica have won four and drawn two matches in the group stages. They were matched against heavyweights PSG and Juventus, along with Maccabi Haifa. Roger Schmidt’s side went unbeaten in this tough group, defeating Juventus twice and sharing equal points with PSG in both matches. They have scored 16 goals while letting in seven. From the viz above, it can be observed that Benfica has overall better stats than their upcoming opponents in all the departments. Notably, they rank at the top in indicators like goals, xG, shots, accurate passes, opposition xG per shot, and xGA. Overall, the Portuguese powerhouse has been one of the best performers in the UCL this season.
Club Brugge have taken a total of 47 shots in six UCL matches and scored seven goals. They scored all the goals from close range, including a couple from inside the six-yard box, accumulating 4.39 xG in total (excluding penalties). The xG map above shows that the defending Belgian champions have attempted more shots inside the box but have also shown the desire to shoot from distance. Club Brugge have scored 1.17 goals per match, averaging an xG of 0.99. They take 8.17 shots per match with a 40.8% accuracy rate.
Alternatively, Benfica qualified for the UCL through the playoff stages. In the ten matches played, they have taken 138 shots in total and scored 24 goals with an xG tally of 18.68 (excluding penalties). Roger Schmidt’s men have scored a few of the goals from inside the six-yard box and from outside the penalty box through varied efforts. They scored at the rate of 2.8 goals per match while averaging 2.1 xG. Benfica takes 14.1 shots per match with 42.6% accuracy.
Progression up the pitch
The above viz depicts the ball progression made by Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League 2022–23. They are currently making 1.33 counterattacks per 90, with 24.8% of them ending in shots. They perform 23.5 positional attacks per 90, with 21.3% ending in shots. Additionally, they make 65.33 progressive passes per 90 with 68.1% accuracy. It can be seen that most of their intensity is on either flank, and the team doesn’t use the central regions to progress forward as frequently.
In terms of attacking moves, Benfica creates 32.5 positional attacks per 90, with 28.9% ending in shots. The team makes 2.7 counterattacks per 90 minutes, with 33.3% of them ending in shots. Additionally, they made 79.5 progressive passes per 90 with 78.2% accuracy in the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League. It can be seen that the team makes progress up the pitch by using wider areas and also generates attacking moves through the central zones.
Club Brugge’s defensive record has been one of the strongest in the current UCL season, having conceded only four goals. The above viz shows the defensive territory of the team. It indicates that Brugge are involved in a lot of defensive actions in the defensive third. They have made 44 interceptions on average, winning 46.4% of the aerial duels and 57.3% of the defensive duels contested per 90. A good chunk of their defensive actions come inside their penalty box, and they have also committed one foul in the box. They commit 9.33 fouls on average and concede 0.67 goals per 90 minutes.
The above viz shows Benfica’s defensive territory from their current UEFA Champions League campaign. Benfica conceded seven goals in the group stage, averaging 1.03 goals conceded per 90 minutes. The team makes 42.2 interceptions, which is slightly better compared to their opponents this season. They have given away one dangerous foul inside their box and average 11 fouls per 90 minutes. They won 60.7% of defensive duels and 47.2% of aerial duels contested. Compared to their upcoming opponent, Benfica spreads out the defensive actions across the middle and defensive thirds.
Joao Mario has been one of the top players for Benfica in the UCL 2022-23. In his six appearances thus far, he has scored four times and assisted once. The Portuguese midfielder brings a genuine threat to the final third with his combination of attacking and passing skill sets. Club Brugge’s players will have the task of nullifying Joao Mario’s presence in the final third to achieve a positive result.
Alex Grimaldo has been another crucial player during Benfica’s current UCL campaign. He has scored two goals and provided two assists thus far. The Spanish full-back brings a genuine threat from the left flank, as he delivers accurate crosses into the box and can also shoot accurately from distance. Club Brugge’s defenders will have the job of making sure Alex Grimaldo doesn’t have a good game on the left flank.
Club Brugge are expected to be without the injured duo of Ferran Jutgla and Andreas Skov Olsen. Apart from these two players, the remainder of their squad should be ready to go.
Meanwhile, Benfica are expected to name a full-strength starting eleven with no known injuries or suspensions in their squad.
Club Brugge vs. Benfica will be one of the interesting matchups of the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The stats indicate the visitors will be the favourites to win this tie over both legs. Club Brugge will get the advantage of playing at home in this first leg and will be motivated to give their best performance for a positive result. Benfica, on the other hand, will come with its own game plan and look to carry forward a handsome advantage into its home fixture.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine