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Celta and Brugge welcome respite

Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.21CET
The UEFA Champions League is a happy distraction for RC Celta de Vigo and Club Brugge KV.

Tournament statistics

CeltaClub Brugge

Goals scored9
Attempts on target46
Attempts off target39
Fouls committed116
Yellow cards22
Red cards1

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Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.21CET

Celta and Brugge welcome respite

The UEFA Champions League is a happy distraction for RC Celta de Vigo and Club Brugge KV.

For RC Celta de Vigo and Club Brugge KV their UEFA Champions League meeting at the Balaídos on Wednesday evening is a welcome distraction from worries over league form.

Celtic plight
Trond Sollied's side are languishing in fifth place in Belgium, 13 points adrift of leaders RSC Anderlecht, while the plight of Miguel Angel Lotina's Celta is even more severe - they are 17th in the Primera División with just eleven points from 12 games.

Fillip needed
Qualification for the Champions League last 16 would be a major fillip for both, but at present they occupy the bottom two slots in Group H. However, with just three points separating leaders AC Milan from last-placed Brugge, a victory for either team in Vigo would put them right back in contention.

'Have faith'
With this in mind both coaches were in defiant mood at their pre-match press conferences. "I know that Brugge are also in crisis," Lotina said. "But don't ask me to comment on why because I've got enough problems of my own. We must focus on the fact we can get out of this situation by having faith in what we are doing despite how results are going. I have lived through worse situations than this."

No crisis
Brugge's Norwegian coach Sollied stuck to a similar theme. "Is it a crisis here? No, a crisis is what is happening in Baghdad," he said. "I do not complain about the pressure on my shoulders. I am at my best when under pressure."

Heady night
Since that heady night in Italy on 22 October when Andrés Mendoza's goal secured a sensational win against European champions AC Milan, Brugge have won just one game in five. That run includes a home defeat by Milan in the return fixture and surprise league losses against K. Heusden-Zolder, KSC Lokeren OV and KFC Germinal Beerschot.

Draw could be enough
However, with a home game to come on Matchday 6 against AFC Ajax, Sollied believes qualification for the last 16 can still be achieved - even if his side only draw at Celta. "I would be really satisfied with a draw here," he said.

'Not too confident
Brugge forward Gert Verheyen was not quite so upbeat. "I am not too confident about Wednesday's match," he said. "In the past we knew that if we played in a certain way we would get a result. We had no doubts. But it is different now. Every match I am curious as to how we will play. Having said that the Celta game cannot come soon enough. It is a match in which we can put things right."

Open approach
With both teams out to prove a point, an open and exciting game could be in store. "I doubt the Belgians will come out and play defensively," Lotina speculated.

Saeternes set to start
Brugge have the greater injury concerns, with defender Peter Van der Heyden (flu) and striker Mendoza (stomach muscle) both missing. It therefore looks likely that Norwegian forward Bengt Sæternes will be selected. "Sæternes is the central striker who plays most like Mendoza," Sollied said.

Changes to be made
As for Celta, who are without long-term injury victims Edu and Juan Velasco, Lotina has indicated he may shake up his starting eleven. "I will make changes," he said. "A couple of players will be left out, but only because I've got a lot of midfielders."

Last updated: 26/11/03 12.44CET