Buoyed by ending SL Benfica's 18-match winning streak at the weekend, SC Braga are confident of continuing their encouraging home record against British opposition when Liverpool FC arrive for the UEFA Europa round of 16 first leg.
The Liga outfit defeated Arsenal FC and Celtic FC 2-0 and 3-0 respectively in the UEFA Champions League earlier this season, while in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup, Portsmouth FC were also beaten without scoring in northern Portugal. Fresh from halting Benfica's national record for consecutive victories, Domingos Paciência thinks his charges produce their best when the more fancied sides pitch up at the Estádio Municipal de Braga.
"The better the opponent, the better the motivation, confidence, aggressiveness and concentration limits," said Paciência, who will be without Custódio and Elderson (both thigh), but hopes to have Alan available after the midfield player suffered an abdominal injury in the 2-1 triumph against Benfica. "Even the technical level of the players improves a bit."
Ominously for their visitors, Mossoró − who struck the decisive blow on Sunday after coming on as a substitute − says Braga are "expecting to play even better" against a Liverpool team in confident mood themselves following a 3-1 defeat of Manchester United FC. "Our win over Benfica couldn't have come at a better time," said the midfield player.
Steven Gerrard and, in particular, Luis Suárez impressed against United but Paciência was quick to dismiss suggestions that Braga's cause has been aided by the duo's absence. Suárez is ineligible, while Gerrard has not travelled due to injury. "They arrived at this stage of the competition without Suarez, and Gerrard hasn't played in some Europa League matches," countered Paciência.
Yet he is wary of being caught on the counterattack, citing Dirk Kuyt, who struck a hat-trick on Sunday, and former FC Porto midfielder Raul Meireles as those who could potentially harm his team's prospects. "Their strongest point is their transitions," he explained. "They are very quick when going forward."
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, has been getting the lowdown on last season's Liga runners-up from Meireles. "I've played against them many times," said the Portuguese international. "They have the same coach and they use the same style of play; I've informed Kenny about it."
Dalglish, whose side have lost just one of their last ten, added: "We'll play whatever the game throws at us, but we'll try to keep possession in order to have more chance to score."
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