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Braga primed to take Standard test

Published: Wednesday 18 February 2009, 9.45CET
Despite only seeing his side squeeze into the Round of 32 in their final group-stage game, SC Braga coach Jorge Jesus is optimistic ahead of Wednesday's first leg against Belgian leaders R. Standard de Liège.
by Pedro Gonçalves & Berend Scholten
Braga primed to take Standard test
SC Braga coach Jorge Jesus has faith in his side's chances against the Belgian champions ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BragaStandard

Goals scored17
 
10
Attempts on target40
 
32
Attempts off target37
 
28
Corners35
 
29
Offsides17
 
18
Fouls committed95
 
120
Yellow cards14
 
19
Red cards0
 
0

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Published: Wednesday 18 February 2009, 9.45CET

Braga primed to take Standard test

Despite only seeing his side squeeze into the Round of 32 in their final group-stage game, SC Braga coach Jorge Jesus is optimistic ahead of Wednesday's first leg against Belgian leaders R. Standard de Liège.

Despite only seeing his side squeeze into the Round of 32 in their final group-stage game, SC Braga coach Jorge Jesus is optimistic ahead of Wednesday's first leg against Belgian leaders R. Standard de Liège.

Contrast
A come-from-behind 2-1 win over SC Heerenveen saw Jesus's side claim the final qualifying berth in Group E in stark contrast to Standard, who swept through to the next round with a game to spare in their section. Jesus, however, believes his team will still be in contention come next week's second leg in Belgium.

'Evenly balanced'
"I think it'll be an evenly balanced tie, and I'm convinced it won't be decided in the first game," said Jesus, who will be without injured defensive trio Paulo Jorge, Moisés and Rodríguez. "I have a good knowledge of Standard, but I place more emphasis on what my players can do rather than what our opponents can or can't do."

Bölöni return
László Bölöni led Sporting Clube de Portugal to a domestic double in 2001/02, and the Standard coach will be hopeful his current charges can add to their solitary away win in this season's competition on his return to the Iberian peninsula. The Belgian champions went two points clear at the top of the Eerste Klasse with a 4-0 win against AFC Tubize last weekend, despite the influential Alex Witsel, Milan Jovanović and Dieudonné Mbokani all serving suspensions.

Enemy within
The latter pair were substituted in a recent game after an on-pitch spat, and Bölöni is aware the greatest threat to Standard could come from within. "It's time that some players got their feet back on the ground. Tell me, what have they proven already? One title?" said the Romanian, who will make an eleventh-hour decision on defender Mohamed Sarr's fitness, before adding: "Standard's biggest opponent is Standard itself."

Last updated: 18/02/09 21.29CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2009/matches/round=15286/match=304799/prematch/preview/index.html#braga+primed+take+standard+test

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