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SC Braga could pick no better time to secure their first ever UEFA Cup group-stage away win as they visit SC Heerenveen with both sides in need of a pick-me-up after some frustrating Group E nights this season.
• Heerenveen were not in action on 27 November, and have no points following a 3-1 loss at home to AC Milan and a 5-1 mauling at VfL Wolfsburg. A win against Braga would guarantee them a chance to play for a Round of 32 place when they visit Portsmouth FC on Matchday 5.
• Braga conceded a late goal to lose 3-2 at home against Wolfsburg last week, with a late strike also having cost them a point when they lost 1-0 at Milan on Matchday 2. They won their opening game against Portsmouth 3-0, but play their final Group E game against Heerenveen.
• A Braga win combined with a Wolfsburg victory or draw at home against Portsmouth would send the Portuguese side through and put an early end to Pompey's European ambitions.
• This is Heerenveen and Braga's first meeting in UEFA club competition.
• Heerenveen have played six games against Portuguese opponents in Europe, with their record reading W2 D2 L2. Their two home meetings against teams from Portugal ended in a win and a draw.
• Heerenveen knocked Braga's Liga rivals Vitória FC out of the first round of the UEFA Cup for the second time in three seasons this year, having also beaten the Setubal side in the 2006/07 competition.
• The Dutch side also played SL Benfica in the 2004/05 group stage, losing 4-2 in Lisbon against a side which featured current Braga defender João Pereira.
• Braga have played three previous games against Dutch sides, with their record reading W1 D0 L2. Both of those defeats came in the Netherlands, with the most recent of them a 3-0 loss at AZ Alkmaar in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage.
• This will be a first game against Portuguese opposition for Heerenveen's Norwegian coach Trond Sollied.
• Braga coach Jorge Jesus has never come up against a Dutch side in a competitive game before.
• Braga's Polish goalkeeper Paweł Kieszek and Heerenveen's F.Y.R. Macedonia defender Goran Popov were team-mates at Greek side Egaleo FC in the 2005/06 season.
• Heerenveen have lost two of their last five European home games, winning the other three.
• They have played seven home matches in the course of four UEFA Cup group-stage campaigns, winning four, drawing one and losing two.
• Braga have won three of their most recent five European away games, losing the other two.
• In five UEFA Cup group-stage away fixtures, they have yet to record a win, with two draws and three defeats.
• Wolfsburg play Portsmouth in Thursday's other Group E game. Milan are the only side in the section not in action on Matchday 4.
• The draw for the UEFA Cup Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be held at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon on Friday 19 December at 13.00CET. Group winners will be paired with third-placed sides from other UEFA Cup sections, while second-placed finishers will be drawn against one of the eight clubs who finished third in the UEFA Champions League groups. The UEFA Cup group winners and runners-up will play the second leg at home. Teams from the same association cannot be drawn against each other.
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