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Rangers’ Europa League quarter-final opponents Braga in focus

AFC Bournemouth v Swansea City – Premier League – Vitality Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Matthews)

Rangers take on Braga in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday night.

Gers have done superbly to overcome Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade in the last two rounds and will have to be at their best again against the Portuguese outfit.

Here, the PA news agency gives the lowdown on Braga ahead of the meeting in the Braga Municipal Stadium.

Form

Braga finished fourth in the Portuguese top flight last season and are on course to do likewise this term as they sit six points clear of Gil Vicente in the battle to end up as best of the rest behind the traditional big three of Porto, Sporting and Benfica. They go into Thursday’s game buoyed by a 3-2 home win over third-place Benfica last Friday. In the last two rounds of the Europa League, Braga have knocked out FC Sheriff and Monaco, winning the home legs 2-0 on each occasion.

Players

Ricardo Horta is Braga’s main dangerman. The 27-year-old Portuguese striker has scored 18 this season and has netted almost 80 goals in total since joining the club from Malaga in 2016. Iuri Medeiros and Vitor Oliveira also carry a goal threat, with both on target against Benfica last Friday. Most of the squad is made up of Portuguese players.

Manager

An experienced manager with more than 20 years’ experience, Carlos Carvalhal took over at Braga in 2020. The 56-year-old Portuguese has been in charge of several top-flight clubs in his homeland, including Sporting, while he has had spells in Turkey and Britain, where he managed Sheffield Wednesday for two-and-a-half years in the Championship and then had a six-month stint at Swansea in the Premier League in 2018. He returned to Portugal after that with Rio Ave, where he was a major success, before landing the Braga job almost two years ago.

European pedigree

After qualifying for Europe only five times in the 20th century, Braga have become virtual ever-presents in continental competition over the past two decades. Since losing 5-3 on aggregate to Hearts in a UEFA Cup qualifier in 2004, they have featured in Europe in every season bar the 2014-15 campaign. Braga have played in the Champions League group stages twice since 2010 but are predominantly found in the Europa League, where they reached the final in 2011 before losing 1-0 to local rivals Porto in Dublin. They were knocked out of the Europa League at the last 32 stage by Rangers two years ago, while they defeated their Glasgow rivals Celtic in a Champions League qualifier in 2010.

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