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Braga and Benfica fight for the prize

SC Braga and SL Benfica still have it all to fight for in their UEFA Europa League semi-final, with FC Porto their likely opponents in the Dublin showpiece on 18 May.

Braga coach Domingos Paciência
Braga coach Domingos Paciência ©Getty Images

SC Braga and SL Benfica still have it all to fight for in their UEFA Europa League semi-final, with FC Porto their likely opponents in the Dublin showpiece on 18 May.

• Jardel fired Benfica into the lead in last week's first leg, and although Vandinho headed in an equaliser, Óscar Cardozo's free-kick made it 2-1 to the home side on the night.

• A 2-1 home win may not be too much of a comfort for Benfica; they were eliminated from last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after winning the first leg 2-1 at home, going down 4-1 at Liverpool FC in the return fixture.

Previous meetings
• This is the first all-Portuguese tie in a UEFA club competition, and could potentially result in a second, with Liga champions FC Porto leading Villarreal CF 5-1 in the other semi-final.

• This is the first last-four contest to be contested by domestic rivals since the advent of the UEFA Europa League, though FC Shakhtar Donetsk beat fellow Ukrainians FC Dynamo Kyiv in the semi-finals of the final edition of the UEFA Cup, in 2008/09.

• Seven UEFA Cup finals were contested by sides representing the same national association.
1971/72: Tottenham Hotspur FC 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC (agg)
1979/80: Eintracht Frankfurt 3-3 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (agg; Eintracht won on away goals)
1989/90: Juventus 3-1 ACF Fiorentina (agg)
1990/91: FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 AS Roma (agg)
1994/95: Parma FC 2-1 Juventus (agg)
1997/98: FC Internazionale Milano 3-0 S.S. Lazio
2006/07: Sevilla FC 2-2 RCD Espanyol (aet; Sevilla won 3-1 on penalties)

• Three Portuguese sides have made it through to the semi-finals, but this is not unprecedented. Indeed, all four 1979/80 UEFA Cup semi-finalists represented the same nation, West Germany.

• Benfica and Braga have met in 110 Portuguese Liga games, with Benfica 72-11 up in terms of victories. They have also crossed paths in ten Portuguese Cup matches, with Benfica possessing a more modest 6-4 lead.

• Benfica have lost only once at home against Braga in the league, back in the 1954/55 season, with their complete Liga record in Lisbon against the Minho outfit reading W43 D11 L1. They have won all four of their home cup ties against Braga.

• Braga's home league record against Benfica reads W10 D16 L29. In the cup, it is W4 D0 L2.

Match background
• Benfica are unbeaten in seven European games since the start of the year – five wins and two draws. They have won all four of their UEFA Europa League home outings this season, conceding once in each.

• Defeat in the first leg ended Braga's run of three successive UEFA Europa League draws since prevailing 1-0 at home against Liverpool FC in the round of 16 first leg.

• Braga have won only one away match since the start of the UEFA Champions League group stage, beating FK Partizan 1-0 on 3 November. In those seven fixtures, they have scored three goals – one an own goal - and conceded 12, six of them in a 6-0 defeat at Arsenal FC.

• Braga have lost only once in eight European home fixtures this season, going down 3-0 to Shakhtar in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 28 September. That run has included six wins and one draw, with the Shakhtar game the only one they conceded in.

• Benfica have drawn their last two European away games but have won only once in their last seven continental ties on their travels, beating VfB Stuttgart 2-0 in the round of 32.

• Braga have scored just five goals in seven games since they entered the UEFA Europa League in the round of 32 – and one of those was an own goal - but they have only conceded four.

• In the same period, Benfica have registered 15 times but have let in seven goals: an average of one a game.

Team facts
• Alan's two strikes since the start of the year – one of them a penalty - make him Braga's top UEFA Europa League scorer.

• Óscar Cardozo heads Benfica's UEFA Europa League scorers list with four goals since the start of the round of 32.

• Both Braga and Benfica began the season in the UEFA Champions League group stage, meaning that one side from that competition is certain to be involved in the UEFA Europa League final. Both Porto and Villarreal, by contrast, started the campaign in this competition.

• Last season's inaugural UEFA Europa League final also featured sides from both competitions, with UEFA Champions League group stage contenders Club Atlético de Madrid overcoming UEFA Europa League group stage challengers Fulham FC in the decider.

• Benfica's Eduardo Salvio featured in that game for Atlético, but the Argentinian's chances of making it to a second successive showpiece look slim after he broke a bone in his foot in the second leg of Benfica's quarter-final success against PSV Eindhoven.

• Benfica goalkeeper Roberto has featured in all 630 minutes of the Eagles' campaign since their transfer from the UEFA Champions League, along with defenders Luisão and Maxi Pereira. Fábio Coentrão, Óscar Cardozo and Nicolás Gaitan have also started all seven of those games, while Pablo Aimar has featured in every one, but came off the bench twice.

• Artur and Sílvio have been ever-presents for Braga since the start of the round of 32, with Hugo Viana and Lima also starting all seven encounters. Alan, Leandro Salino and Mossoró have featured in them all as starters or substitutes.

• Braga right-back Sílvio came through Benfica's youth system, joining the Arsenalistas last summer after two seasons at Rio Ave FC.

• Benfica full-back Luís Filipe represented Braga from 2000 to 2001 and then between 2005 and 2007, when he joined the Eagles.

• Versatile left-sided Benfica player César Peixoto represented Braga from 2007 to 2009.

• Benfica boss Jorge Jesus was Braga coach in 2008/09, when his side won the UEFA Intertoto Cup and reached the UEFA Cup round of 16, losing out to Paris Saint-Germain FC.

• Goalkeeper Quim – absent from the Braga squad due to a long-term injury – represented Benfica from 2004 to 2010, when he returned to the club where he started his career.

• Braga came second to Benfica in the 2009/10 Liga season; it was Braga's best domestic finish to date.

• Benfica's next defeat will be their 100th in UEFA club competition. This will be their 335th UEFA game, making them by far the most experienced side left in the UEFA Europa League.

• The overall winner will be the nominal away side in the UEFA Europa League final at the Dublin Arena on 18 May.

Penalties
• Braga have never been involved in a European penalty shoot-out.

• Benfica have been involved in two penalty shoot-outs in UEFA club competition. They lost the 1988 European Champion Clubs' Cup final 6-5 on spot kicks after a 0-0 draw with PSV in Stuttgart, but beat PAOK FC 4-1 in a shoot-out in Lisbon to settle a 1999/2000 UEFA Cup second round tie.