Club Brugge coach Scott Parker wants his struggling Belgian club to make their mark in the Champions League and seize the opportunity to improve their domestic form when they take on Benfica in Wednesday’s first leg of the last-16 tie.
The former Fulham and Bournemouth manager took over Brugge in late December as the reigning Belgian champion struggled in the league and after it was knocked out of the Belgian Cup and despite it winning a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time.
Parker has won once in seven games since arriving but with five draws and a single loss and wants to show that it is on the mend.
“We want to make our mark,” he told a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the clash at Bruges’ Jan Breydel Stadium.
“We have to respect that the level of the opponent is huge, but we have nothing to lose. We will focus on their strengths, but also on their weaknesses. We want to hurt them.”
He also said he wanted to show improvement. “I saw a lot of progress in my team in recent weeks. Sometimes the details weren’t easy. That also explains some of the results,” Parker added.
“But this is a different competition, we suddenly go to knockouts and that context is completely different.”
Club Brugge have won the last three Belgian championships but this season are 20 points behind leaders Racing Genk.
However, Parker was hopeful of the club continuing their good run in Europe’s elite competition.
“We are getting better. I’m very optimistic about this match. It is a nice test for our club, to see where we are at the moment,” he said.
“But again -- all respect to Benfica. They have great qualities, but so do we. As a club we are extremely excited about this opportunity. And there is no need to be afraid.”
In the Champions League group phase, Club Brugge was the surprise package, eliminating Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen and finishing second behind FC Porto.
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