Club Brugge vs GalatasarayUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Sep 18, 2019, Jan Breydel Stadium
With big-spending giants Real Madrid and PSG casting a dark shadow over Group A, Brugge and Galatasaray are effectively battling it out for a third-placed finish that would guarantee a softer landing in the Europa League.
Brugge boss Philippe Clement openly admitted that in his pre-match press conference, claiming: “If we win it will be a good step in the direction of third place.”
So this group opener will be crucial – and history suggests the Belgians will have the edge. These clubs found themselves in the same scenario back in 2002 when Brugge came third behind Lokomotiv Moscow and Barcelona with Galatasaray finishing bottom of the group.
That was down to their 3-1 home win over the Turks, with the sides drawing in Istanbul, and Brugge will be confident of repeating the trick against a side that suffers from chronic travel sickness.
Galatasaray haven't won a European match outside Turkey since a 3-2 victory at Schalke took them into the Champions League quarter-finals seven years ago, losing on 14 of their 17 road trips since then.
They have also never beaten Belgian opposition in six previous encounters, losing all three on their travels, including a 2-0 defeat to Anderlecht on their last visit five years ago.
So the omens aren't great and that's why I'll be lumping on Brugge at evens with Bet365. The odds increase to 3/1 if you double that with both teams to score but Galatasaray have drawn a blank in their last four Champions League away days. So it might be safer to back Brugge to win without conceding, which is 5/2 at Boylesports.
Just betting on Galatasaray failing to score could also pay off nicely at 17/11 with Sportingbet while under 1.5 goals in the first half, under 2.5 strikes in the second and either team to win also appeals at 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
Brugge claimed some impressive scalps to reach the group stage, defeating Dynamo Kiev then Austrian side Linz in the qualifiers, and are also unbeaten in domestic football after a 2-0 weekend derby win over Cercle Brugge.
In those Euro qualifiers both games were won by a one-goal margin in Belgium so I fancy a repeat here at 3/1 with Bet365.
The Belgians lost star striker Wesley in the summer when he joined Aston Villa along with the wonderfully named Marvelous Nakamba. David Okereke was brought in from Spezia to fill the void and bagged four goals in his first four games.
But he has drawn a blank since then and was subbed at half-time against Cercle so I'm more inclined to go with team-mate Hans Vanaken, who has six for the season and also takes penalties. The midfielder is 13/5 with Paddy Power in the anytime scorer market and that looks good value.
Galatasaray's form in Turkey has been pretty patchy, winning three of their first five games but Dutch striker Ryan Babel has been in decent form. He netted twice for Holland in the international break and is 4/1 with Paddy Power for anytime scorer which might be worth a speculative punt.
This UEFA Champions League match between Club Brugge and Galatasaray will be played on Sep 18, 2019 and kick off at 20:00