Udinese gained the upper hand of the tie by holding Braga to a 1-1 draw in Portugal, but we should, nonetheless, see a very interesting match at Friuli.
The Portuguese side completely outplayed their more illustrious opponents in the first leg and they are not yet ready to give up on a place in the Champions League group stages.
Udinese boss Francesco Guidolin didn’t spent too much time crying over his destiny after key players Maurizio Isla, Kwadwo Asamoah and Samir Handanovic left the club, but he rather opted to concentrate on the squad rebuilding process.
With so many new players arriving in the summer, the process is bound to take some time, and nobody was surprised to see the Zebrette struggling in Portugal.
They did take the lead through Dusan Basta, but were on the back foot for most of the game, and I cannot recommend backing them in the return leg at odds of 2.10 (11/10) offered by BetVictor.
Francesco Guidolin surprised everyone by fielding a second string side in weekend’s defeat to Fiorentina, and that just shows how seriously he takes the Braga match.
Di Natale, Armero, Basta, Benatia and other regular starters will return to the side, but Giampiero Pinzi remains injury doubt.
Probable starting line-up (3-5-1-1): Brkic – Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi – Basta, Pereyra, Willians, Pinzi, Armero – Fabbrini – Di Natale.
Sporting Braga are becoming a real force to be reckoned with in European football and the team have achieved a lot of success over the last few years.
They not only qualified for Champions League group stages two years back, but then went on to reach the Europa League semi-finals the same season.
After beating very good Sporting Lisbon to the final Champions League berth last term, Braga are now eager to make it to the group stages for the second time in last three years, although they face an uphill task following the 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Nevertheless, seeing they have already outplayed somewhat inexperienced Udinese side at home, odds of 2.62 (13/8) offered by Paddy Power on Braga to qualify could be worth a shot.
Beto, Helder Barbosa and Eder are all injury doubts, while Maximilian Haas, Yazalde and Luis Alberto are definitely out.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Beto – Leandro Salino, Douglas, Paulo Vinicius, Ismaily – Hugo Viana, Custodio – Alan, Mossoro, Helder Barbosa – Lima.