Braga and Rangers are set to trade tackles at the Estadio Municipal de Braga in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.
Braga defied the odds in the previous knock-out round to edge out Ligue 1 side Monaco 3-1 on aggregate and secure their third Europa League quarter-final appearance.
On the other hand, Rangers ousted Red Star Belgrade in the round of 16 following their eye-catching 6-4 aggregate triumph over Bundesliga powerhouse Borussia Dortmund in the knock-out play-off round.
Interestingly, Braga and Rangers are the only two surviving group runners-up, with this their second Europa League knock-out tie in three years.
The Gers came out victorious in their last-32 tie in 2019/20, winning both legs by a single-goal margin.
Following a brace of 2-0 home defeats to Rangers and Roma in the Europa League knock-outs, the Archbishops have won their last two such contests by 2+ goals ‘to nil.’
Carlos Carvalhal’s side will be looking to extend that record on the back of a morale-boosting 3-2 home victory over fierce domestic rivals Benfica at the weekend.
Another clean sheet would significantly improve Braga’s hopes of emulating their run to the Europa League final back in 2010/11, though they have only managed that feat in four of their last 12 matches.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men became the first-ever Scottish side to reach the Europa League quarter-finals, yet a 2-1 home defeat to arch-rivals Celtic at the weekend could have shaken their confidence.
Rangers had failed to register a single victory outside Glasgow in the Europa League this season (D3, L2) prior to their stunning 4-2 triumph at Dortmund.
However, a defeat in Belgrade last time out worsened the Gers’ overall away record in the Europa League knock-out phase that currently reads (W3, D3, L2).
Nuno Sequeira and Roger Fernandes are still unavailable to injuries, though Braga welcomed Vitinha back against Benfica following a minor fitness concern.
Star striker Alfredo Morelos has joined long-term absentees Nnamdi Ofoborh and Ianis Hagi on the sidelines, which could derail Rangers’ hopes of scoring in Portugal.
Braga Potential Starting XI
(3-4-3): Matheus; Paulo Oliveira, Vitor Tormena, David Carmo; Lucas Mineiro, Mutassim Al-Musrati, Andre Castro, Francisco Moura; Iuri Medeiros, Ricardo Horta; Victor Oliveira.
Rangers Potential Starting XI
(4-3-3): Allan McGregor; Calvin Bassey, Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun, James Tavernier; Joe Aribo, Aaron Ramsey, John Lundstram; Ryan Kent, Amad Diallo, Scott Arfield.
Braga vs Rangers Prediction
A run of five wins from Braga’s last seven competitive home matches (D1, L1) shows the Estadio Municipal de Braga is more than just a beautiful venue.
Given Rangers’ underwhelming away form in continental action, we expect the Portuguese side to defend their fortress and take a narrow first-leg lead.
Braga 1-0 Rangers
- PSG make Victor Osimhen their top summer target
- Chelsea interested in signing Barcelona full-back Alejandro Balde
- Everton’s new stadium three months behind schedule, £760m costs to increase
- FPL Double Gameweek 29: Five low-priced players to watch including Man United and Chelsea stars
- Manchester City striker Erling Haaland in race to be fit for Liverpool game