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Benfica vs. Braga: Match Preview

Braga's Lima


Domestic rivals Benfica and Braga make footballing history in one of the two Europa League semi-finals, as they become the first Portuguese sides to meet in a UEFA club competition game.

The two sides are part of a trio of Portuguese clubs battling it out for a place in the Europa League Final in Dublin next month. As both sides have fallen short in their domestic league campaign, they will be hoping for an opportunity to battle it out for silverware against either Villarreal or fellow Primeira Liga club FC Porto.

Despite one league and one cup defeat against league champions Porto in April, Benfica are undefeated on their home ground since December. They will be hoping for a ferocious home support in the Estádio da Luz to put them in a good position for the second leg next week.

Benfica crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage but managed to pick up wins against Lyon and Tel Aviv before entering the Europa League. They have collected four wins and two draws en route to the semi final. On the domestic front, the Águias have only managed two wins in their last six fixtures, which included a 2-1 away defeat to 2nd bottom club Naval.

Spanish pair Roberto Jiménez and Javi García have featured the most for manager Jorge Jesus this season, who faces up against the side he last managed in 2009. Jesus will be hoping for a similar performance to the last round where his side trounced PSV Eindhoven 6-3 on aggregate.

Braga, who are currently 14 points behind second-placed Benfica in the league, will be hoping to conjure up the form that saw them pick a vital point at Kiev in the last round, as well as wins against Olhanense and Beira-Mar in away league matches.

'Os Arcebispos' were also knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage despite three impressive wins. Their hard work and determination has resulted in them being unbeaten in this competition since the 24th February.

They will be relying on forward Alan, who has made the starting line up 22 times, netting five goals, and is Braga's top UEFA Europa League scorer with two. He is likely to be partnered alongside Brazilian Lima, who has six goals to his name so far this season.

Braga have scored only four goals over six matches since falling into the Europa League, conceding just two. Over the same period, Benfica have scored 13, but have let in six.


All Competitions:

Benfica: LDWLW (8 goals for, 9 against)
Braga: WDWDD (7 goals for, 4 against)

Europa League:

Benfica: WWDWD (11 goals for, 5 against)
Braga: WWDDD (4 goals for, 1 against)

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