By Svend Frandsen
Following defeats on Matchday One, Club Brugge KV and FC Lokomotiv Moskva will be desperately seeking their first victory of UEFA Champions League Group H when they meet at the Jan Breydelstadion tomorrow.
It is imperative to bounce back quickly if either club is to usurp one of the leading two positions in the section from Galatasaray SK and FC Barcelona, so much so that a draw would do neither Brugge nor Lokomotiv much use in Bruges. The Belgian league leaders produced a spirited display last week, losing 3-2 at Camp Nou, while the Russian challengers were outplayed by Galatasaray, the Turkish champions triumphing 2-0 away.
The last time Brugge met Russian opposition in the Champions League was in the competition's inaugural season in 1992/93 - Daniel Amokachi making history by becoming the first player to score in the revamped tournament when he struck the only goal of the home leg against PFC CSKA Moskva. However, Lokomotiv will not be intimidated by the thought of a return to the country where they trounced RSC Anderlecht 5-1 in the first group stage of last season's Champions League.
If a confident showing against Barça was not enough to warn Lokomotiv of Brugge's strength, Trond Sollied's side added KAA Gent to five previous domestic scalps as Brugge made it six wins from as many games in Belgian football. "We are happy with six consecutive wins," said Sollied after Saturday's 1-0 success. "OK, we did not play well in the second half and I am not sure whether that was because we were thinking about the Lokomotiv game. We know we must win that one if we are not to finish last in our group."
Stoica not fit
Brugge will again be without Romanian midfield player Alin Stoica as Sollied feels he is still not match fit. Bengt Saeternes, the Norwegian striker, Tjörven de Brul, Sebastian Hermans and Birger Van der Ven are also ruled out because of injuries.
Despite the defeat by Galatasaray, Lokomotiv coach Yuri Semin believes that his side can still qualify for the second group stage. "We can still take second place in this group as long as we play up to our maximum in our remaining five matches," he said.
Russians fully rested
The Russian team will go into the match on the back of a free weekend as Lokomotiv were granted permission to move the scheduled league game against FC Alania Vladikavkaz to October. However, Semin will once more have to do without the services of Russian international midfield player Marat Izmailov and Nigeria striker James Obiorah who are both injured. The absence of two such quality players can only serve to heighten what is already a difficult ask for the Muscovites.
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