MX23RW : Sunday, September 26 04:37:28| >> :120:67115:67115:
Dec 10, 2020 at 8pm UK at Estádio Municipal de Braga
BragaBraga
2-0
LuhanskZorya Luhansk
Abu Hanna (61' og.), Horta (68')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Braga vs. Zorya Luhansk - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Braga and Zorya Luhansk, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Braga round off their Europa League group-stage campaign on Wednesday when they welcome Zorya Luhansk to the Estadio Municipal in Group G.

The hosts are safely through to the next round and are under little pressure to perform, whereas Luhansk's fate has been sealed and they have nothing to play for either.


Match preview

Carlos Carvalhal, now in charge of Sporting Braga, pictured in June 2020© Reuters

Europa League Group G has played out largely as most would have expected, with Braga sealing qualification for the round of 32 with a game to spare.

The Portuguese giants marched to a 4-2 victory over AEK Athens last week to book their place in the knockout stages, and Braga are still in with a chance of topping the group following Leicester City's defeat to Luhansk on matchday five.

Carlos Carvalhal's men are level on points with Leicester – who also boast 10 from a possible 15 – but Leicester still lead the way owing to their superior head-to-head record before the Foxes play host to AEK Athens later this week.

There is no need for Braga to employ a gung-ho attitude in search of top spot, though, with this game meaning very little to a side who have registered an impressive 10 wins from their last 13 in all competitions.

However, Braga's five-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at the weekend as they lost 2-1 to Belenenses in the league, although Paulinho finally got off the mark in the 2020-21 Primeira Liga with his side's consolation goal on Sunday.

Zorya Luhansk's Allahyar Sayyadmanesh celebrates scoring against Leicester City in the Europa League on December 3, 2020© Reuters

Luhansk's memorable victory over Leicester will not be forgotten by the Ukrainian side in a hurry, with Allahyar Sayyadmanesh lashing home from close range to condemn the Foxes to their first European defeat since losing to Atletico Madrid in the 2016-17 Champions League.

However, that narrow victory meant very little in the context of the group, with Luhansk falling at the first hurdle after a poor start to their continental campaign.

Viktor Skripnik's men took zero points from their first three games, but Luhansk's victory over Leicester was their second Europa League win on the bounce after a 3-0 win at AEK Athens, but it has been a simple case of too little too late for the Ukrainian side.

Nevertheless, Skripnik's side extended their winning run across all competitions to four games at the weekend with a 3-1 league triumph over Dnipro-1, although Luhansk were unable to keep a fifth clean sheet in a row despite marching to a convincing win.

The first meeting between Braga and Luhansk back in October ended in a narrow 2-1 win for the Portuguese side at the Slavutych-Arena.

Braga Europa League form: WWLDW
Braga form (all competitions): WWDWWL

Zorya Luhansk Europa League form: LLLWW
Zorya Luhansk form (all competitions): LDWWWW


Team News

Braga's David Carmo in action against Benfica in the Primeira Liga on February 15, 2020© Reuters

Braga defender David Carmo – who has been linked with Manchester United – was sent off in the loss to Belenenses but is available for Europa League matches.

However, the same cannot be said for Ricardo Esgaio, who picked up his third booking of the group stage in the win over AEK Athens and will sit this one out.

Ze Carlos is a candidate to replace Esgaio on the right-hand side, while Vitor Tormena, Fransergio and Guilherme Schettine are all vying for starting roles.

As for Luhansk, 19-year-old Sayyadmanesh has staked his claim for a start up top after his winner against Leicester, although Mihailo Perovic is also vying for a place at the forefront of the visitors' attack.

Maksym Kazakov is Skripnik's only injury concern at present, with the Luhansk boss otherwise blessed with a fully-fit squad for this dead rubber.

Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Sequeira, Silva, Tormena; Carlos, Fransergio, A. Horta, Galeno; Medeiros, Schettine, R. Horta

Zorya Luhansk possible starting lineup:
Shevchenko; Agapov, Vernydub, Abu Hanna, Juninho; Ivanisenya; Kochergin, Yurchenko, Kabaev, Lunyov; Sayyadmanesh


SM words green background

We say: Braga 1-0 Zorya Luhansk

Luhansk have proved incredibly difficult to break down in recent weeks and can feel optimistic about making the long journey to Portugal count for something. Braga have no reason to go out all guns blazing for a win, although the Primeira Liga side would undoubtedly still want to top the group, so we are backing the hosts to scrape another narrow victory against Skripnik's men on the final matchday in Group G.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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