Often Partisan

Off to Partizan – the Braga Preview

Wednesday marks the final away game of the Europa League Group stage, and what is potentially Blues’ last trip into Europe for a while – win or draw and we could be back on tour in February in the knockout rounds; lose and that is most likely to be it.

Whilst Blues haven’t been in the best of form since drawing 2-2 with Club Brugge (1 win, 2 draws and a defeat in four games), neither have Braga. Admittedly Braga have faced the three heavyweights of the Liga Zon Sagres in Porto, Sporting and Benfica – but they have failed to win in each of their three outings since their 5-1 demolition of NK Maribor. Their most recent game was a 3-2 away defeat to Porto that was more one-sided than the scoreline suggests; two late goals for Lima pegged it back for the Arsenalistas to give a more respectable scoreline.

From having a quick look on the Braga fans forum, it appears that the locals aren’t too happy with the timing or pricing for this game. The game kicks off at 7pm CET (6pm GMT), which is inconvenient for many of the home fans who work later than that, and there is quite a bit of complaining that the tickets are too expensively priced. This could work in our favour if there is a lower home crowd than usual; Blues are expecting to take 1500 or so to the Estádio AXA and if the backing is anything like the vociferous noise that fans made in Brugge then I think the players could definitely feel spurred on to victory.

It’s a bit early for Blues team news; question marks will be against the fitness of Liam Ridgewell and Morgaro Gomis who both missed the Blackpool game with injury but are probably close to returning to fitness; Stephen Carr has barely figured in the Europa League for whatever reason and I don’t expect him to against Braga either. I think it’s likely we’ll see Spector move back to right back with N’Daw taking his spot in the middle; I also think the pace of Nathan Redmond will be seen as a useful asset and he’ll be on the bench at a minimum.

The home game against Braga was closer than the 3-1 scoreline suggested; the main difference between the teams being absolutely clinical finishing from Braga and I think this is what Blues need to be aware of; chances need to be taken and the frontline (whoever is picked) needs to be ruthless in their finishing. For instance, if Adam Rooney had put his shot the right side of the post in the first five minutes against Braga, how different would that game have been? Blues have been creating chances in their recent games – there is no denying that Blues have efforts on goal but it’s been said repeatedly that they’re not sticking enough in the onion bag.

For those who can’t make it to Portugal, the game is live on ITV4 (Freeview channel 24, Sky channel 120, Virgin Media channel 118), kick off at 6pm GMT. Let’s hope Blues can keep up their unbeaten away Europa League record.

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13 Responses to “Off to Partizan – the Braga Preview”

  • BeeGeeBlueBoy says:

    Because of head to head I think we must beat Braga and then Maribor unless the Bruges slip up in Slovenia

  • ScudMuffin says:

    I still haven’t worked out how the pool system works for this, surely blues should be in 5th.

  • Roy Flowers says:

    We are second because of our head to head vs Brugge. If we can avoid defeat against Braga and beat Maribor we are definitely through. We would have 11 points Braga have to play Bruges so if Braga draw with us and beat Bruges they would have 11 points and Bruges can then only get 10 by beating Maribor. If Bruges beat Braga and Maribor they would have 13 points but Braga would only have 8. If we lose against Braga and Bruges beat Maribor then a Bruges / Braga draw will put them both through instead of us. So avoid defeat against Braga and beat Maribor. Sounds simple doesn’t it.

  • mark says:

    What ever happens now will be a bonus for blues, CH knows its mainly in blues hands. We know who we are playing against and almajir right blues also have got to be more chinical in front of goal….kro

  • Steve F says:

    Oddly, ITV4 has Diamonds are Forever scheduled for 5pm Thursday. Any know if they’ve changed their mind or something?

  • Xanadu says:

    Anyone from on here going on the Sports Options flight?

  • skareggae72 says:

    If the football is as impressive as the ground then it could be some evening.Not seen a 700ft sheer-cliff face inside a football stadium before.

  • John says:

    Its been an enjoyable excursion into Europe and if it does come to end,mathematically,on Wednesday,it won’t be the end of the world, there’s still the Maribor game to come. But I think the players have enjoyed the European experience, as much as we fans have,so don’t be surprised to see them give a very good account of themselves, in Portugal. KRO

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