Often Partisan

SC Braga – scouting report

This week sees the visit of Braga to St Andrews, and as my knowledge of Portuguese football isn’t that great I thought I’d take a look at how our opponents got on this weekend, with a view to seeing where their strengths and weaknesses are.

It’s easy to typecast Braga as easier opponents than we might face in this competition. After all, they only finished one win ahead of CD Nacional in last year’s Liga ZON Sagres, and I think Blues fans saw how poor Nacional were at St Andrews. In addition, like Nacional Braga are poor travellers in Europe; despite making the Europa League final last year they only won two away games in the eighteen games that they played until the final – a 4-3 thriller in Sevilla which had two goals for either side in the last five minutes, and a dour 1-0 victory over Champions League group whipping boys Partizan Belgrade. On their three visits to Britain, they lost 2-1 to Celtic at Parkhead, 6-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates, and held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Clearly, this is a team like Nacional that doesn’t like travelling.

However, to write them off would be daft. This is a team of pace, guile and power. I’ve watched the goals from their 3-1 home victory against local rivals Gil Vicente, and it’s obvious that they are no mugs. The second and third goals both come from great through balls, and whilst 35 year old striker Nuno Gomes took the limelight for coming off the bench to score twice you have to admire the Brazillian Lima, who’s shot created the chance for the first and who’s sublime ball set up Helder Barbosa to score the arsenalista’s second goal.

From talking to Ben Shave, who writes for www.portugoal.net, I’ve gathered that Braga are going to be a tough prospect. Their attack is pacy – left winger Helder Barbosa is an FM legend (if that means anything to you); and creative, as you’d expect from a team packed full of Brazillians. Whoever is in defence for Blues needs to be on their guard for the slide-rule pass, and to stop the wingers getting to the byline to cross. However, like Nacional I suspect they’ll be susceptible to pressure on their defence – purely because I think they’ll be set up to attack us and I think that will impinge on the team’s defensive duties.

I firmly believe it’s going to be a game where Blues will have to soak up some early pressure and squeeze out their midfield before hitting them with the creativity we have. I can see us going with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has served us well under Hughton, with players like Burke, Redmond, Beausejour, and Elliott supporting a big striker like Marlon King. We’re going to need a couple of midfield “destroyer” types – maybe N’Daw, maybe Gomis (if he’s not picked up a knock), maybe Spector to break up play and stop the Braga midfield from playing killer balls.

I do believe it’s a tie we can win – but it’s not going to be easy. Hopefully a sell out crowd (like the one against CD Nacional) will help to play it’s part in pushing the team on.

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8 Responses to “SC Braga – scouting report”

  • Craig says:

    How many fans they bringing with them? Surly more than C.D National did.

  • hugh-g-rection says:

    ive heard that the away supporters are having piri-piri pies specially shipped over for this game.
    It would have been nice if us home fans got to try em

  • viperblue says:

    I have a Portugese mate and he described them as “cr*p”, a technical term I believe.
    Probably not much between us but home advantage should swing it.

  • Ben says:

    Personally I think brag a are a much better team than us, but I think at home we will draw or it will be a goal either way depending on the crowd.
    I think our main threat will be wing play as their defenders looked weak in the air last night, I also think we will need to play alot better than we did against nacional as if we give Gomes them chances he will score.
    Also look out for Hugo Viana(formerly of Newcastle, Valencia etc) very good player and could cause us problems.
    I hope we win as I miss all 3 home games due to work commitments

    P.s. FM = football manager, it’s a computer game

  • Daniel says:

    Well, I don’t think they are “crap”. They managed to get to the final last year and they surely are the hardest opponent in this group. I am hoping for a draw at home.

  • Bluehobba says:

    Another rousing night is on the cards. My prediction 2-0 to Blues and hopefully give a chance to NDaw to see what he is like. 2 wins at home in this league will go a hell of long way to qualifying but One game at a time and lets enjoy it. Anyone noticed how cold we have gone with the TV and media coverage of both yesterday and Europa.

  • Rathater says:

    Were live on itv4 I think on Thursday???

  • Mark says:

    To be honest I would prefer win at southampton on sunday, if blues can raise their game for both I will be happy man and the rotation system CH will use. I believe this team is getting better who knows we could get on a bit of run.

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