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Club Brugge v HJK background

Club Brugge KV's challenge is to cling on to top spot in UEFA Europa League Group B as they welcome an HJK Helsinki side on a two-match winning streak.

Club Brugge birthday boy Timmy Simons
Club Brugge birthday boy Timmy Simons ©Getty Images

Club Brugge KV have top spot in UEFA Europa League Group B within their grasp but must be wary of a resurgent HJK Helsinki side on matchday six.

Club Brugge need only avoid defeat to be certain of a round of 32 berth.

HJK must win to have any hope of qualifying.

Form guide
• Ruthless finishing helped Club Brugge prevail 3-0 in Finland when these sides met on matchday two.

Club Brugge have won both of their previous home games against Finnish clubs, while HJK lost 3-0 to RSC Anderlecht on their only previous trip to Belgium, during qualifying for the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League.

Club Brugge come into matchday six unbeaten in Group B, though they have drawn both their home matches in the section. They have conceded just twice in nine European fixtures this season.

HJK have not won in eight European away games (D2 L6).

Trivia and links
Club Brugge midfielder Timmy Simons turns 38 on the day of the HJK game. Simons and HJK counterpart Mika Väyrynen played together at PSV Eindhoven from 2005 to 2008, winning two Dutch titles together.

HJK are making only their second appearance in a major UEFA competition group stage, having reached the same phase of the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League. They are Finland's first UEFA Europa League group stage contenders.

HJK forwards Aristide Bance (KSC Lokeren OV, KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen) and Roni Porokara (also Germinal Beerschot) both have Belgian league experience.

HJK are among ten national champions in the group stage along with GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Legia Warszawa (Poland), FC Steaua Bucureşti (Romania), AC Sparta Praha (Czech Republic), Aalborg BK (Denmark), ŠK Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia), Qarabağ FK (Azerbaijan), FC Salzburg (Austria) and Celtic FC (Scotland).

The coaches
• A goalkeeper for R. Standard de Liège, KV Mechelen, SL Benfica and Belgium, for whom he won 58 caps, Michel Preud'homme has been in charge at Club Brugge since September 2013. As a coach, he has won league titles in Belgium (Standard, 2007/08) and Saudi Arabia (Al-Shabab FC, 2011/12) in addition to the Belgian Cup (KAA Gent, 2009/10) and the Dutch Cup (FC Twente, 2010/11).

HJK coach Mika Lehkosuo was a midfielder for the club when they played in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League, captaining the side after a brief spell in Italy with AC Perugia. Capped 17 times, he coached FC Honka Espoo before taking over at HJK in April 2014.