The 2010/2011 Europa League semi-finalists face an uphill task in their attempt to reach Champions League group stages, with Serie A giants Udinese on the other side.
Sporting Braga have really raised the club’s profile over the last decade, having not only closed the gap behind Porto, Benfica and Sporting on domestic level, but also showed a lot of promise in European competitions.
The Minhotos did well to beat very good Sporting Lisbon side to the final Champions League berth, but were very unfortunate to be drawn alongside Udinese in the play-offs.
The club have stayed without important players Ewerton, Ukra and Miguel Lopes in the summer, while signing a number of unproven players from smaller Primeira Liga clubs.
Even so, Braga impressed at the start of the league campaign, having held Benfica to a 2-2 draw at Estadio da Luz, and they are now 2.30 (13/10) with 888sport to continue the good run with a win over Udinese.
Boss Jose Peseiro faces some selection problems before the clash against Zebrette, with Paulo Cesar, Yazalde, Eder and Maximilian Haas all sidelined through injury.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Beto – Leandro, Douglao, Paulo Vinicius, Ismaily – Custodio, Amorim – Alan, Viana, Mossoro – Lima.
Despite selling their key players season after season, Udinese somehow manage to remain in contention for a top 3 finish and they have got to be congratulated for piping Lazio, Napoli, Inter and Roma to the 3rd place in Serie A last term.
Once again, the club chiefs decided to cash in on their star players, as a result of which Samir Handanovic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla have left the club, while their players were taken by completely unknown players, who, I am sure, will be worth just as much money in a few years’ time.
The Friulani’s 4-0 victory over Southampton in the final warm-up game proved that their fans have reason for optimism before the clash with Braga, and no wonder they are 1.67 (2/3) with BetVictor to qualify for the group stages.
Having been very unfortunate to be eliminated by Arsenal at this stage last term, the Zebrette will give their best to avoid a similar scenario.
Star striker Luis Muriel misses out with a muscle strain, while Joel Ekstrand doesn’t travel with the squad as he lacks match fitness.
Probable starting line-up (3-5-1-1): Brkic -Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi – Basta, Pinzi, Willians, Pereyra, Armero – Maicosuel – Di Natale.