Sporting Clube de Braga are a football team from Portugal, hailing from the city of Braga (hence the name), hailing from the 30,000 capacity Etadio Municipal so they’ve probably got the same number of fans as ours.
Rather bizarrely, as the stadium is set in a quarry with a cliff-face along one edge of the pitch, there are only two stands. They should have given us 15,000 tickets then. Heh heh.
There are approximately 1800 Blues fans waiting in Braga for tonight’s match. I won’t be among them, as I’ve had lots of work to get on with, and I couldn’t afford it anyway, having had a pay cut of sorts…
Braga reached this group stage by finishing 4th in the Portuguese League! They beat ‘Young Boys’ on Away Goals in the Play Off Stage. (0-0 home, 2-2 away).
Braga won the Intertoto Cup in 2008, were beaten finalists (by Porto of Portugal) in the Europa League, 2011, where they beat Lech Poznan, Liverpool, Dynamo Kiev and fellow Portuguese side Benfica on the way.
They were also Portuguese League Runners Up, in 2009-10 season and won the Portuguese Cup and Super Cup in 1998. It could be argued they weren’t particularly successful for the ten years between 1998 and 2008, and have never won the Portuguese title, but they must obviously be seen as a bigger threat than Nacional were! Particularly after beating us 1-3 on our own turf! Perhaps we’ll only win 2-0 then? Their recent success is also very good indeed. Though they were beaten at home by Brugge, so who knows what could happen tonight??
Their history against British sides has some notable successes and failures, they beat Portsmouth at home in Harry Redknapp’s last match in charge of the club before he headed to Tottenham. 3-0. (UEFA Cup 2010). They beat Celtic 3-0 and Arsenal 2-0 in 2010/11 Champions’ League at home. (If it’s any reassurance, Celtic and Arsenal (6-0!) won the ‘away’ legs). They beat Liverpool 1-0 over two legs to knock the Scousers out of the 2010/11 Europa League.
The fans of Braga are known as “Arsenalistas” due to their team home kit that resembles that of English club Arsenal. There’s a good reason for us to beat them, eh? I wonder if their manager bears any resemblance to the ‘wonderful’ Arsene Wenger?
Braga’s last five matches are made up of two wins, two draws and a loss, ours is similar, with one win replaced by a draw.
Carr and Ridgewell are out injured, but Gomis and Valles made the 20-man squad.
Braga are missing no less than ten players due to injury or ineligibility, including right-back Wanderson Baiano and striker Carlao. Their captain ‘Alan’ leads the striking line.
Blues’ starting lineup- Myhill (a slight surprise not to see Doyle though perhaps it signifies the importance of tonight’s match), Murphy, Caldwell, Davies, Spector, a solid enough defence, Burke, N’Daw, Fahey, Elliott, Beausejour, an attacking enough midfield, with the numbers available to defend if need be, with the big man Zigic up front on his own. Gomis has to make do with a spot on the bench, while Valles misses out altogether. The other subs are Doyle, Pablo (I’m surprised he didn’t start to be honest!), Redmond, King, Rooney and Wood. Read those last three again, and prepare for four strikers on the pitch if we’re behind in the second half! Ha. I’m going for a 2-0 scoreline at half time, 2-2 result.
Keep Right On! We’re (still!) going on a European tour…