SC Braga

The Lowdown: City's Next European Opponents, SC Braga

Ahead of Leicester City's UEFA Europa League trip to SC Braga on Thursday, LCFC.com takes a closer look at the Foxes' Portuguese opponents.

Drawn from Pot 1, they can call upon plenty of previous European experience, taking part in the group stages for the fifth consecutive season and reaching the final of the competition in 2010/11.

Here's all the latest on Braga, including a look at their playing squad, manager, recent form and upcoming fixtures...

The squad

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Galeno
Galeno

Brazilian forward Galeno is one to watch when Leicester travel to Portugal for the reverse fixture.

With two goals to his name during the group stage, Portugal international Paulinho is one to watch; a man possessing superb composure in front of goal and great ability in the air.

The 2019/20 campaign was a memorable one for the Portuguese with 17 goals and seven assists in the league alone, including a hat-trick in a 5-1 away rout at Paços de Ferreira.

Only one player contributed directly to more goals in the Primeira Liga than Paulinho last season. His exploits in cup competitions and Europe was equally as impressive, with his total goals tally reaching a career-high 25. Not the quickest of strikers, the 27-year-old is effective in other areas, including movement and decision-making.

Another player who has already got off the mark in European competition this term, Ricardo Horta is an important cog in Carlos Carvalhal’s system at Braga.

After two seasons in Spain, Horta was loaned to Braga and joined the club on a permanent deal the following year. He helped the team to consecutive fourth-place finishes and then scored over 20 goals in all competitions last term, including in the Europa League, which made him Braga’s second all-time top scorer in Europe.

Horta also played a key role in Braga’s Taça da Liga Final victory over Porto last season by scoring the only goal of the game.

The man who opened the scoring against AEK Athens on matchday one, Galeno is a young forward who has pace to burn and is undoubtedly a danger man in this Braga side. Galeno registered six assists from six Europa League group stage games last season - more than anyone else in the competition.

Always keen to face defenders in one-on-one situations, the Brazilian forward was instrumental in Braga’s first league win of the current campaign, netting two goals and laying on an assist to help his side defeat Tondela 4-0.

The manager

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Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal managed two English clubs before returning to his homeland.

Portuguese outfit SC Braga and Carlos Carvalhal have crossed paths at several points over the last few decades, with Carvalhal representing the club in three separate spells as a player and now two stints as a manager too.

Born in the northern Portuguese city, Carlos joined the youth system at his hometown club and progressed into the first team in 1983. The centre-back then signed for Chaves before returning to Braga in 1986, where he enjoyed a longer stint in the team.

Following brief spells at Porto and Beira-Mar, Carvalhal then rejoined Braga for a third time, prior to concluding his playing career with Tirsense, Chaves and then Espinho.

Despite not winning silverware as a player, Carvalhal has experienced a lengthy career as a manager and has plenty of highlights to look back on. In 2002, he became the first coach in Portugal to take a team in the third division to the UEFA Cup when he led Leixões to the Taça de Portugal final.

After brief spells with other sides in his homeland, the Portuguese coach enjoyed arguably his most successful year in the dugout in 2007/08, when he returned to Vitória Setúbal and guided the team to sixth position in the league and UEFA Cup qualification while boasting one of the best defensive records in Europe.

That impressive campaign then got even better when Setúbal beat Sporting Lisbon in the inaugural edition of the Taça da Liga, handing Carvalhal the first trophy of his career. Having spent his entire playing and coaching career in Portugal, the now 54-year-old accepted his first opportunity abroad, taking charge of Asteras Tripolis in Super League Greece.

Following a return to Portugal, another spell abroad in Turkey and then a break from the game of almost three years, Carvalhal moved to England and took over at Sheffield Wednesday, where he settled well and led the team to the play-offs in his debut season in charge, but lost 1-0 in the final against Hull City.

A year later it was a familiar story for the Owls when they reached the play-off semi finals, but again fell short, losing to Huddersfield Town on penalties. It was however a season of progress for Wednesday and their manager, who became the first Portuguese to win the EFL Championship Manager of the Month Award on his way to a fourth-place finish.

With Carvalhal’s side sitting in the bottom half of the table during the Christmas period the season after the defeat to Huddersfield, the Braga-born coach left by mutual consent and took on a new challenge at Swansea City in the Premier League.

Despite some fantastic results with Swansea, including home wins against Liverpool (1-0) and Arsenal (3-1), Carvalhal was unable to avoid relegation and subsequently left the Welsh outfit, returning to Portugal initially with Rio Ave and then his local side, Braga.

Form guide

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Fransérgio Barbosa
Fransérgio Barbosa

Braga's league form has picked up since their 3-1 defeat to FC Porto in September.

Braga are sitting second in the Primeria Liga, behind Sporting Lisbon, having taken 15 points from seven games. Since losing their opening two leagues fixtures, to FC Porto and Santa Clara, Braga have gone on a five-game winning streak, most notably beating Benfica 3-2 last time out.

They have also kept three clean sheets - in the 4-0 victory against Tondela and the 1-0 away wins over Guimaraes and Famalicao. 

Previous encounters

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James Maddison
James Maddison

James Maddison was on the scoresheet in City's convincing victory over Braga on matchday three.

This will be the second group stage meeting between the two sides, following Leicester's resounding 4-0 victory at Leicester City Stadium last month. The Foxes now sit top of Group G after that result, with Braga in second after three games.

Their 3-0 victory over AEK Athens was followed up by a 2-1 win against Zorya Luhansk to put the Portuguese outfit on six points. Galeno, Paulinho and Ricardo Horta were all on the scoresheet as Braga swept past AEK on matchday one, while Paulinho and Nicolás Gaitán found the net in Ukraine.

Trophy cabinet

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SC Braga
SC Braga

Braga reached the final of the UEFA Europa League in 2010/11, losing to André Villas-Boas' FC Porto side in the final.

Regulars in the Primeria Liga – the top tier of Portuguese football – SC Braga enjoyed a successful season last term, finishing third in the league behind Benfica and champions Porto, in addition to winning the Taça da Liga for only the second time in their history, the first being in 2012/13.

Domestically, as well as that one other Taça da Liga crown, Braga have won Portugal’s other major cup competition, the Taça de Portugal, on two occasions (1965/66 and 2015/16) and became the first Portuguese club to ever win the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2008, which was incidentally the year the competition was abolished.

Os Arcebispos have also lifted the Segunda Divisão title twice - in 1946/47 and 1963/64.

The stadium

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Braga Municipal Stadium
Braga Municipal Stadium

SC Braga play their home games at the 30,286 capacity Estádio Municipal de Braga.

The club’s Estádio Municipal de Braga stadium was initially built as a venue for UEFA Euro 2004 and is regarded by many as one of the most original and visually spectacular in Europe, having been carved from the Monte do Castro quarry which overlooked the city.

Designed by Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, the 30,286 capacity stadium is the seventh largest in the country and won The Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Upcoming fixtures

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SC Braga
SC Braga

Braga face AEK Athens and Zorya Luhansk in their final two UEFA Europa League group fixtures.

Braga are back in Primeria Liga action on Sunday 29 November, facing Farense at home (8pm kick-off), before visiting AEK Athens in their next UEFA Europa League fixture on Thursday 3 December (5:55pm kick-off).

Their final group stage match will see Carvalhal's side come up against Zorya Luhansk in Portugal, on Thursday 10 December (8pm kick-off).

Three league fixtures are also to come for Braga in December, versus Belenenses (A), Rio Ave (H) and Boavista (A).

All times GMT.

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