Philippe Clement is preparing a surprise for the clash against the stars of Paris Saint-Germain. The arrival of Messi requires a special plan and there is therefore a chance that captain Ruud Vormer (33) will fall next to the team. Much depends on the fitness of Balanta, who trained everything on Tuesday. Wesley is again in the selection for the first time.
European football has often been the signal for Philippe Clement to surprise. There was the starting spot for Charles De Ketelaere two years ago at home against PSG, then his big debut. Thibault Vlietinck suddenly started that campaign during the last group match at home against Real Madrid while he had not played in the four months before. And Maxime De Cuyper (now Westerlo, ed.) was allowed to start twice in the Europa League against Manchester United later that season.
Once again, Clement is thinking of rearranging his midfield as Messi, Neymar and Mbappe drop by. It is certain that captain Vormer has to fear for his starting place, and that depending on the fitness of Eder Balanta, who lost out against KV Oostende last Friday. The 16-year-old Mbamba may still be such a surprise, although he already has a handful of games on the counter.
“Balanta fully trained with the group and is in the selection,” Clement said on Tuesday. Balanta’s physical profile should help curb all that offensive violence from Paris. That is why Clement is thinking of a more conservative midfield, with Balanta and Mbamba or Rits. Vanaken then remains the most attacking of the three.
That would be a sour apple for Vormer, although the final decision is still being made today. Because if Balanta suddenly gets a reaction – a full match will be difficult anyway – Clement has to adjust his plan. “Of course we take such a front line into account. That changes certain things. We cannot do the same as against Ostend. But we’re not going to camp in our own sixteen. We also want to score ourselves. Defensively, we will have to take a step higher. It will take a strong collective to get a result.”
Wesley in selection
On an offensive level, there was good news: Wesley is in the selection for the first time since his return to Club and is also entitled to minutes. “But it’s still too early for a basic place,” Clement said. The Brazilian does give Club’s offensive line more clout should that prove necessary: Wesley is a coat rack that can bring calm during a French storm.
Whether all that will be enough to get anything at all remains to be seen. “This PSG is better than the team from then or even Real Madrid that year,” Clement said. “But that’s what makes it so interesting: these are moments you dream of as a child. To play against the best in the world.”
LINE-UP CLUB BRUGES
Long – De Ketelaere
Sobol – Balanta – Vanaken – Mbamba – Sowah
Nsoki – Hendry – Mata
substitutes: Lammens, Ricca, Maouassa, Mechele, Vormer, Rits, Wesley, Dost, Van Der Brempt, Persyn
Injured: Left, Otasowie
Neymar – Mbappé – Messi
Wijnaldum – Paredes – Herrera
Diallo – Kimpembe – Marquinhos – Hakimi
Substitutes: Donnarumma, Bitshiabu, Alloh, Kehrer, Nuno Mendes, Danilo, Bitumazala, Ebimbe, Draxler, Icardi
Injured: Verratti, Ramos, Kurzawa, Bernat
Suspended: Gueye, Di Maria