Sporting Braga v Besiktas Europa League 17:30 Tues
Despite suffering two losses in the stage, Besiktas still managed to come top of their group in this year’s Europa League, just edging first place over Stoke City as Bet365 make the Portugese side odds on in tonight’s tie at te Estádio Municipal.
For tonight tie, however, the Turkish side will be expecting a totally different challenge on Tuesday when they face off against Portuguese opposition Sporting Braga.
Both sides currently sit third in their respective leagues and the match represents an encounter between two clubs who are now fairly well versed in the language of Europa League football.
Braga only managed a second-place finish in their group, running out as tight runners-up to Club Brugge but remain as the bookies favourites for the fixture when they host Besiktas on Tuesday.
One factor the Besiktas may consider an advantage going into the fixture is that their coach, Carlos Carvalhal, is a former manager of their Portuguese opponents and actually grew up in the town of Braga.
Speaking in an interview, the boss of the Turkish outfit said: “I had a strange feeling after the draw. At first I didn’t want it, now I am looking forward to it. Braga is my home town and my old team, where I played for years. I will be playing a club I know very well.”
Braga managed to make it to the final in last season’s Europa League, only to be beated by domestic rivals Porto.
On the other hand, Besiktas bowed out to Dynamo Kiev at this stage in last year’s campaign, succumbing to an 8-1 thrashing against the Ukrainian club.
Carvalhal added: “Braga are a very strong team with big ambitions. However, they aren’t the same team that reached the final and, above all, we are stronger than we were last term.”
Braga counterpart, Leonardo Jardim also commented on the match and seems to not let his opponents score stating: “We have to impose our football, support each other and show good movement. It is important to avoid conceding and make sure we have the advantage going into the second game.”