Birmingham City: All You Need To Know About Sporting Clube De Braga

Braga have dismantled Liverpool, Celtic and Arsenal in recent years, so why are they only bringing a handful of fans to St. Andrews? Their misfiring strike-force may have something to do with that.
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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 Birmingham City, and yet – inexplicably – are only bringing 20 fans to visit.  A journalist from Portugal on Radio WM this morning suggested it was because it was ‘only the first game’ of the group  stages.  I truly hope this is their downfall, as our home fans will obviously drown out their support, so perhaps we’ll be the twelfth AND thirteenth man. Heh.

Our home leg is tonight, we’ll next meet them on Wednesday 30 November 2011 in Braga.

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).  They are also ahead of Portugal’s Benfica who held Manchester United 1-1 last night in the Champions’ League!

Last season none of their players scored more than the striker Lima’s 6 goals.  Alan scored 5.  You’ll hear more about him in a mo’…

Put into perspective, the Portuguese League’s top scorer last season was Porto’s ‘Hulk’ with 23.  Perhaps Alex McLeish used to be their striker coach? Maybe Cameron Jerome could head out on loan from Stoke to sort them out?  Hmmm.

Their captain is a Brazilian striker known only as ‘Alan’.  Doesn’t sound too Brazilian does he?  They are managed by Leonardo Jardim (he’s Portuguese and not to be confused with the Oscar winning actor from ‘No Country for Old Men’ (great film) or ‘Eat Pray Love’ (awful film)!)

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.

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

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!  Perhaps we’ll only win 2-0 then?  Their recent success is also very good indeed.

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?

I truly cannot wait to see more European football at St. Andrew’s, and it can only be positive for our league attendances as more people will be interested to see if we can replicate the Nacional-beating form against the likes of Leicester (pre season favourites) and Southampton (current form team).

I quite fancy the idea that Nathan Redmond will continue his scoring form from the Nacional match.  I suspect we’ll see the European debut for us of N’Daw, and I would expect to see Wade Elliott and Pablo Ibanez too, giving us some solidity, flair and experience between the three of them.

Keep Right On!  We’re (still!) going on a European tour…

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