We have some competitive football action on Wednesday in the Champions League, when the third qualifying round first legs take place. One of the ties sees Club Brugge face Istanbul Basaksehir and the Belgian side will be at home in the first leg.
Brugge are favourites to win this game, they are the team with more European pedigree and more importantly, they are formidable at home, with an unbeaten Belgian league home record stretching back to December 2015. That shows how tough this trip is going to be for Istanbul Basaksehir.
The Turkish side will be looking to make their mark in their first ever Champions League appearance, although they have been handed a very tough tie to do so. However, they are capable, and they have made some good signings this summer, so if the occasion doesn’t get to them, I expect them to put up a good fight.
Club Brugge Form
Brugge have played five friendlies in preparation for this game, although with no competitive football since last season, preparation hasn’t been ideal. They finished second in Belgium last season, two points behind Anderlecht and after strengthening this summer, they will be hopeful of pushing Anderlecht even further this coming season. Qualifying for the Champions League group stages is their current priority though, and if they did it would be their third consecutive year at that stage.
It has been 30 Belgian division games since Brugge last tasted defeat at home, a run that goes back to December 2015. They are tough to play at home, and with Istanbul Basaksehir coming here for their Champions League debut, there are not many tougher places to visit for a debut.
Istanbul Basaksehir Form
Istanbul Basaksehir’s second place finish in the Turkish league last season probably came as a surprise to most, but they deserved their final position. What I really like about them is that they haven’t stood still, they have tried to bring in some quality players to continue their progression.
They have a tough assignment in their opening Champions League game, but on the other hand, nothing is expected from them so they have nothing to lose. It is going to be great to watch them begin their Champions League adventure.
Brugge have added a lot of depth to their squad this summer, something that will help them when they are playing both domestically and on the European stage. However, with not real quality addition, I expect them to line-up similar to last season, with club captain Ruud Vormer playing a vital role in their attacking play.
Istanbul Basaksehir have added quality this season, and have surprised many by two of the signings they have managed to pull off. They have signed ex Manchester City Gael Clichy and forward Eljero Elia from Feyenoord, who will both make a big impact. Both are available, and given their previous European experience, I am sure both will start in the game.
Top Betting Tips
I am going to side with Club Brugge to win this game, although I expect it to be a lot closer that some people will expect. With such a good record at home, Brugge are difficult to ignore at home and they will want to take a lead to Turkey with them, as they know it is a tough place to visit.
They also have a lot more experience than their opponents and they know what they are dealing with when it comes to the Champions League. They have been there and done it before, making me think that they are more than capable of doing that again. While Istanbul Basaksehir have added European experience to their line-up, the rest of the team has little or no experience and this is going to be a big night for them. Club Brugge on the other hand will field a team that have all played in Europe before, and they know what to expect.
I am siding with Club Brugge to win this game, and I expect them to go all out to secure a lead for the second leg. That second leg will be difficult for them, and I am sure they are hoping to take a two or three goal cushion with them, but I don’t see that myself. I can see Istanbul Basaksehir putting up a good fight here, and Brugge winning the game by the odd goal, which should set up the second leg in Turkey perfectly for us.