Foot Predictions shows this Thursday’s Europa League clash between Braga and Rome, including tips, preview and possible lineups.
First meeting in European competition, Braga assume one Pomegranate team led by his former coach at the Estádio Municipal de Braga, this Thursday.
Both clubs were impressed with the progress in the Europa League group stage, with Carlos Carvalhalmen to finish runner-up in Leicester City and his old friend Paulo FonsecaTeam is leading Group A.
Roma coach Paulo Fonseca will receive a warm welcome on his return to the Iberian Peninsula this week, having led Braga in the 2015-16 season and lifted the Cup of Portugal in his brief time with the club. During Fonseca’s only season at the helm, Braga also reached the Europa League quarter-finals – leaving for the club that subsequently joined Shakhtar Donetsk.
In preparation for Thursday’s game, the former Pacos Ferreira coach praised Braga’s performances in the group stage and offered kind words to his young team and his most recent successor, Carlos Carvalhal. However, the pressure is always intense in the Eternal City and, after a fall from Coppa Italy to humiliate Spezia, Fonseca is expected to lead his team towards the final in Gdansk, passing by his former colleagues.
Third in the Serie A standings after a 3-0 victory over Udinese at the weekend, the Giallorossi continue to dominate more modest opponents, but tend to collapse when facing their four main rivals, such as Juventus, Atalanta and the rivals of city, Lazio – for each of whom they have lost in the past few weeks.
A powerful attack, averaging more than two goals per league game, was also a feature of a continental campaign in which his coach put on a highly altered XI. Talented young people like Gonzalo Villar, Carles Perez and Riccardo Calafiori participated throughout the fall and can continue to impress in the final stages of the competition.
Defeated 2-0 by Sevilla, who eventually won the round of 16 last season, which remains the furthest the club has achieved in the Europa League (although they were runners-up in the UEFA Cup in 1991), the Giallorossi now have four qualifications from an equal number of group stages at this level. They secured an elimination game this season with two games from the end of the group stage, making the double over Young Boys and CFR Cluj, but curiously losing points in both games against a weak CSKA Sofia team.
However, Roma have not won away in post-natal European football since a 4-0 win at Villarreal four years ago – a series of six games in which they have lost five times. That record is likely to change in the coming days if they want to beat an enterprising opponent this time.
Braga come to this glamorous tie in excellent form, as evidenced by the seven-game unbeaten run since the defeat in the League Cup final to Premier League leader Sporting last month. In two recent meetings with defending champions Porto, he dominated possession by two-thirds to one and drew on each occasion.
Third in the table with a healthy sum of 40 points, Carlos Carvalhal’s men currently share the giants of Portuguese football – sitting just one point from Porto and two above Benfica.
The Europa League journey so far has seen runners-up in 2011 register four wins, a draw and just one solitary loss, for Leicester City, the Premier League leader. Serene progress in Group G has never seen them in trouble, as the Minhotos scored 14 goals in total – although they also leaked 10, including four at King Power Stadium against Brendan Rodgers‘ team.
Certainly, the star of his campaign was the front Ricardo Horta, who scored six goals in the league and three in the Europa League. The diminutive ex-Malaga was in the line-up while Braga was preparing to return to continental competition with a 1-0 victory over Santa Clara on Sunday, with a goal from the Colombian left-back in the first half. Cristian Borja secured another victory for the Carvalhal team.
As Braga lost only two of the 16 previous European games at Estadio Municipal, winning 10, the stadium exclusively excavated in a quarry has been a kind of fortress for longtime overachievers. They will need all those good memories on Thursday, as they face a potentially growing Rome.
Europa League form of Braga: WWLDWW
Braga form (all competitions): WWWDDW
Roma Europa League form: WDWWWL
Roma form (all competitions): LLWWLW
All news from the teams
Carlos Carvalhal will be without the defensive support of Braga David Carmo – injured against Porto recently – when he joins Rui Fonte, Francisco moura and Iuri Medeiros on the treatment table, with the last trio suffering from knee injuries.
Negotiating a period of five games in 15 days, Carvalhal will likely shuffle his package again, which he could see Andre Horta and former Atletico Madrid player Nicolas Gaitan potentially involved in your preferred 3-4-2-1 formation.
As is usually the case, Paulo Fonseca da Roma will adopt a similar form to his successor on the Braga bench, with a lot of early game resource rotation. Chris Smalling and absence of long-term injuries Nicolo Zaniolo are not available due to injury, but the Italian team has few other concerns.
Marash Kumbulla will compete with Roger Ibanez for a place in the defense next door Gianluca Mancini and Bryan Cristante, While Bruno Peres could be inserted in the lateral to offer a rare rest for Rick Karsdorp.
Now available again after injury and a fight outside the field, respectively, experienced activists Pedro and Edin Dzeko can be brought in to replace Lorenzo Pellegrini and regular Europa League Borja Mayoral in the Giallorossi attack.
Possible initial squad for Braga:
Matheus; Tormena, Silva, Borja; Esgaio, Elmusrati, A. Horta, Galeno; R. Horta, Gaitan; Ruiz
Possible initial Roma lineup:
Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Peres, Villar, Veretout, Spinazzola; Pedro, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko
Probability: Braga 2-2 Roma
An immediately attractive match on paper, this confrontation of two coaches with the same ideas – although responsible for clubs at different ends of the European food chain – must not fail.
The depth of Roma’s offensive talent, coupled with the hosts’ home record – as strong as the granite in which their ground is set – means that the goals are almost guaranteed, with the promise of a second help next week at the Olympics.
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