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Getting to know the opposition: SC Braga
Published : 15 Sep 2010 12:58:22Rss feed
Football.co.uk's Joe Strange tells you everything you need to know about Arsenal's Champions League opponents Braga.
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Established in 1921, Sporting Club De Braga will be making their Champions League group stage debut when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates stadium later this evening.
Having earned a reputation as the biggest and most successful club outside of Portugal's top three (Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon), Os Arcebisops, or the Archbishops, recorded their best ever league performance last season by finishing as runners up in the Portuguese Liga.
While the Champions League proper will be a new experience for the club, they have experienced success on the European stage once before, having lifted the last ever Intertoto Cup in 2008.
They find themselves in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition by virtue of some seriously impressive play-off victories. First they comfortably defeated Neil Lennon's Celtic 4-2 on aggregate, before notching a stunning 4-3 away win over experienced Spanish outfit Sevilla to secure a 5-3 triumph over two legs.
After manager Jorge Jesus left to take charge at rivals Benfica, the club chose to appoint ex-Porto B team boss Domingos Paciencia. A former Porto striker, who scored 106 goals during 11 years at the club, Paciencia also played 35 times for Portugal from 1989-98.
At just 41 years old, 1990's Portuguese player of the year is one of the youngest managers to ever take control of side in the Champions League.
Braga enter tonight's game on the back of a 3-2 away defeat at the hands of league leaders Porto. Despite taking a 2-1 lead in the second half they were unable to hold on, eventually succumbing to a 63rd minute winner from Brazilian striker Hulk.
They currently sit in fourth place after four games, having won two and drawn one of their other three fixtures. With 17 Brazilians in their squad, expect their attacking play to be filled with flair and dynamism and their defence to be less than solid.
Currently on a season-long loan from Russian club Dynamo Moscow, Uruguayan playmaker Luis Aguiar will be a key component of Braga's midfield this evening.
The 24-year-old, who made 12 appearances for Uruguay's under-20 side, will be looking to supply Brazilian striker Matheus, although he himself has an eye for goal.
Newcastle fans will remember their former midfielder Hugo Viana, who played for the club between 2002 and 2005. The central midfielder failed to make much of an impact of Tyneside, making just 39 appearances during his three-year stint.
From the north-east he moved to Spanish side Valencia, before being loaned to Osasuna and then Braga, where he earned a permanent move this summer.
In 1921 Braga changed their original colours of green and white vertical stripes to red shirts and white shorts. The reason behind the change was manager Jozef Szabo's trip to see Arsenal play a match at Highbury.
He was so taken by the club's colours that he decided his own team should adopt them. Szabo even renamed Braga's youth team Arsenal do Braga. And ever since their club changed its colours, the Braga fans have been known as Arsenalistas.