Tag Braga

Tag Braga

Preview: SC Braga v United

November 6, 2012 Tags: , Matches 67 comments

There are few more atmospheric stadia than Estádio Municipal, Braga, carved as it is into the face of Monte Castro quarry. Three sides every bit a tight, sometimes intimidating venue; the other sheer rock with an almost tragi-comic large screen perched into the cliff face. Still, there is no more picturesque place at which to secure qualification for the Champions League knock-out stages – an achievement that Manchester United is seeking at SC Braga in Portugal on Wednesday night.

With nine points from three victories to date, albeit from only marginally impressive performances, United could progress with just a point on Wednesday night. That, however, is a result unlikely to impress manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with the 70-year-old Scot bent on securing top spot in group X. After United’s failure to qualify last season Ferguson’s over-compensation is the least reaction Reds could expect.

Still, Ferguson will make several changes to the side that beat Arsenal at Old Trafford on Saturday in preparation for the weekend fixture with Aston Villa. It is a familiar story in Europe, but unlike last season’s competition United has largely circumvented punishment for rotating the squad in the group stages.

“I’ll be making some changes for Wednesday, no doubt about that,” confirmed Ferguson on Tuesday.

“Obviously we want to win on Wednesday. If we get a win, that’s better as we want to make sure we qualify first. If we win, we’re through to the next phase and that’s the most important part. Braga have a good record at home, but I think we can get the win.

“The most important thing is to go through. In order to win the Champions League we have to play at a really high level. Real and Barcelona are the main contenders, and Borussia’s also one of them. I hope we can be together with them as well.”

Ferguson, however, will still be without injured defensive duo Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidić, while Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes have been left in Manchester to rest. H

SC Braga v Manchester United – Champions League, Estádio Municipal – Wednesday 7 November 2012, 7.45pmHowever, Chris Smalling is now back in full-time training and traveled with the squad to Portugal. The 22-year-old in unlikely to start after missing the opening three months of the season with a broken metatarsal, but may feature at some point.

“Fletcher got a little bit of a cold on Sunday, and there’s no point taking him travelling with a cold,” explained Ferguson. “Scholesy, for the last few games I’ve been resting him to freshen him up a little bit. I’m just taking care of an old man, that’s all!

“Phil Jones will start training with us next Monday which is good news – he is making really good progress now. Chris Smalling is with the party and will be involved tomorrow. Those two are outstanding young defenders and it will give us a fantastic squad to take on all our challenges

“That is really good news because as we know, since the start of the season, we’ve been operating on the borderline in terms of certain defenders having to play all the time.”

The Scot is likely to bring Anders Lindegaard back into goal for David de Gea, while Nani, Anderson, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández will all hope to see some action in Portugal’s third city.

Meanwhile, Braga will feel confident of taking something from the game after going two goals up at Old Trafford last month. The Portuguese outfit, which reached the Europa League final last season, eventually succumbed to United’s second-half pressure, but not without testing the Reds’ porous defence first.

Braga coach José Peseiro is without Paulo Vinícius and Paulo César who are both unavailable with thigh injuries, although Douglão returned to action at the weekend and could start.

“We need to have some possession but must not attack too hard,” concedes Peseiro.

“It’s not even worth thinking that we can crush United. We showed we could cause them some problems in the first game. The way we switch from defence to attack is very important, but the most important thing is to be consistent.

“Even if they change their lineup, their team is top quality because they have more than one good player in every position. If they win tomorrow, they’ll qualify for the next phase, so we know what’s in their minds.”

Indeed, qualification a day after Ferguson celebrated his 26th year in charge of United will be all the present the Scot needs. In a ceremony at Old Trafford later this month Ferguson will be presented, in his honour, the latest statue erected at the old stadium.

The Scot replaced Ron Atkinson at Old Trafford in November 1986, ending United’s 26 year wait for a league title in 1993. Five FA Cups, four league cups and 11 more championships have followed.

How Ferguson would love to add just one more European title to the two Champions Leagues he has already won in what could yet be his final season in charge.

Match Details
SC Braga v Manchester United – Champions League, Estádio Municipal – Wednesday 7 November 2012, 7.45pm

Possible teams
Braga (4-4-2): Beto; Baiano, Coelho, Dougão, Elderson; Custódio, Viana, Mossoró, Barbosa; Zé Luís, Éder. Subs from: Quim, Micael, Amorim, , Capela, Micael, Djamal, Alan, Custódio, Guilherme, Michel, Carlão.

United (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Buttner; Anderson, Carrick; Nani, Rooney, Welbeck; Hernández. Subs from: De Gea, Smalling, Evra, Cleverley, Giggs, Nani, Valencia, Powell, Young, van Persie.

Officials (all GER)
Referee Felix Brych
Assistant referees Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp
Additional assistant referees Felix Zwayer, Guido Winkmann
Fourth official Mike Pickel

United: WWWWLW

Head to Head
Overall: Braga 0, United 1, Draw 0


Preview: United v SC Braga

October 22, 2012 Tags: , Matches 86 comments

Manchester United welcomes Sporting Braga to Old Trafford on Tuesday, with the Reds chasing a win that should ease qualification into the Champions League knock out stages. United has been far from fluent in the competition to date, but victory over last season’s Europa League finalists will take Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to within a point of guaranteed progression. After last season’s pre-Christmas exit qualification alone will be an achievement.

However, Ferguson is set to rotate his resources for the visit of José Peseiro’s outfit, with Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra certain to miss out as United’s manager seeks to rest players ahead of next weekend’s fixture with Chelsea. Indeed, the 70-year-old Scot could make eight changes from the side that beat Stoke City 4-2 at the weekend, with Ashley Young, Anderson, Alexander Büttner and perhaps even Scott Wootton coming into the side.

Ferdinand will not feature, but United’s manager, Monday, backtracked on an implied threat to punish the 33-year-old defender for refusing to wear a Kick It Out t-shirt at the weekend. Blamed on a miscommunication, Ferguson says that Ferdinand will return for United’s Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.

Aside from the inevitable changes, Ferguson may reintroduce the diamond formation that brought the Reds victory over Cluj and Newcastle United in recent outings. It is a system, claims the Scot, that plays to his squad’s strengths, if not United’s history.

“If it turns out as a consistent team selection from me, playing a diamond, it is revolutionary because we’re going against our history,” admitted Ferguson on Monday

“I think the level of the game in England and Europe is such a high level now that making yourself unpredictable is going to be a strength. Teams will have to think if we are going to play two wide players or the diamond because we have players capable of doing both things.

“Players like Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley can play very well in the type of matches the diamond offers. And of course in Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, I’ve got really good wide players also. It is difficult – we have had some success playing with the diamond. The history of the club is always to play with wide players, particularly at Old Trafford, so I have a decision to make.”

Manchester United v SC Braga - Champions League, Old Trafford - Tuesday 22 October 2012, 7.45pmBack into the side comes Shiji Kagawa, after the Japanese play-maker missed out on United’s victory over Stoke. The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has failed to recreate the early season burst of form over the past month, with the Scot’s tactics and formation rarely aiding the £16 million acquisition. Ferguson is again likely to deploy the 23-year-old out of position against Braga.

“The initial reason for taking him was his ability to play behind the strikers,” said Ferguson “In the last couple of games he has played middle to right – not a problem for him because he still has the ability to create.”

Meanwhile, Young could feature after missing two months with a knee injury. The former Aston Villa winger has made just one start in the campaign, but will make the bench as a minimum against Peseiro’s side. However, there may once again be no room for Nani in Ferguson’s wingerless system. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie could drop to the bench, with Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernández in line to start up front.

Despite the plethora of changes Ferguson insists he is taking the Portuguese opponents seriously after United was accused of complacency in last season’s campaign.

“We’ve kept players back who have been playing well – Cleverley, Kagawa – so I wouldn’t call that underestimating Braga,” added Ferguson.

“Braga are better away from home, [they] showed that beating Galatasaray [2-0]. It’s not easy going to Turkey. In the modern European game counter-attack is the issue, so tomorrow hopefully we can deal with that.”

Whatever the formation, history points to victory for Ferguson’s side. United has never lost at home to Portuguese opponents, although Peseiro’s side is unbeaten in seven matches away from home in European competition. It’s quite a turn-around for Os Arcebispos who lost 6-0 to Arsenal in the club’s first Champions League encounter. With more than a touch of  coincidence the thrashing matched that handed down by Tottenham Hotspur FC in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup first round.

Yet, Braga also boasts a health record against English opponents, going five games unbeaten since defeat to Arsenal, including a 1-0 aggregate victory over Liverpool in the 2010/11 Europa League.

Peseiro, like compatriots José Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas, enjoyed a limited playing career in the minor leagues before a low-key start as a manager. Begining his coaching career at Nacional, Peseiro took the Madeira club from the third division to the Primeira Liga in three seasons. For a season the 52-year-old worked under Carlos Quieroz at Real Madrid before returning to Portugal when the former United assistant manager was sacked by the Bernabeu hierarchy.

“We’ve got good players and a good team too, so we’re going to be trying to win,” said Peseiro, who will have been encouraged by United’s unspectacular wins over Cluj and Galatasaray.

“If we can’t win then a draw is a good result too. Sir Alex Ferguson praised Braga very highly only a few days ago, so he doesn’t underestimate us.”

Plenty of changes may say otherwise. Then again, Ferguson probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Match Details
Manchester United v Sporting Clube de Braga – Champions League, Old Trafford – Tuesday 22 October 2012, 7.45pm

Possible teams
United (4-4-2): Lindegaard; Rafael, Wootton, Evans, Buttner; Fletcher; Anderson, Cleverley, Kagawa; Welbeck, Hernández. Subs from: De Gea, Keane, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Nani, Valencia, Young, Rooney, van Persie.

Braga (4-2-3-1): Beto; Baiano, Douglao, Vinícius, Elderson; Custodio, Viana; Alan, Mossoró, Barbosa; Eder. Subs from: Quim, Haas, Coelho, Amorim, Paulo César, Rivera, Michel, Micael, Ismaily, Salino, Custódio, Zé Luís, Douglão, Carlão.

Officials (All Serbia)
Referee: Milorad Mažić
Assistant referees: Milovan Ristić, Igor Radojčić
Additional assistant referees: Milenko Vukadinović, Miodrag Gogić

United: WWWLWW

Head to Head
First meeting