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Birmingham fortress faces Braga test

Birmingham City FC meet Portuguese opposition for the third successive European game and will call upon a fine home record to overcome last season's finalists SC Braga in Group H.

Birmingham manager Chris Hughton must balance domestic and European aspirations this season
Birmingham manager Chris Hughton must balance domestic and European aspirations this season ©Getty Images

Birmingham City FC boasted a proud home record in their European games of the 1950s and 1960s and will hope St Andrews is a fortress once again as they host last season's UEFA Europa League finalists SC Braga in Group H.

Previous meetings 
• The sides are meeting for the first time in Europe.

• This will be Birmingham's third successive European game against Portuguese opponents – remarkable given that this is only their third UEFA club fixture. The Blues beat CD Nacional in the play-offs to reach the group stage, winning 3-0 at home after a 0-0 draw in Funchal.

• Braga's 12 games against English sides have ended W3 D2 L7 (W0 D2 L4 in England). They have scored three times in six games in England while conceding 17 goals.

• The Arsenalistas took on two English teams in Europe last season en route to the UEFA Europa League final. They lost 6-0 at Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League, but won the return fixture 2-0. They then eliminated Liverpool FC in the UEFA Europa League round of 16, winning 1-0 at home and earning a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Match background 
• Birmingham won their only previous UEFA home game 3-0 and have yet to concede a goal in the UEFA Europa League.

• If you factor in games from the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the non-UEFA affiliated precursor to the UEFA Cup where Birmingham were regulars in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Blues' unbeaten European home run extends back to a 3-0 win against a City of Zagreb XI in December 1956 – the first continental fixture to be played at St Andrews. Birmingham went unbeaten through 12 Fairs Cup home games, winning ten and drawing two.

• Excluding last season's UEFA Europa League final, which they lost 1-0 to FC Porto in Dublin, Braga have not won in six away games (three draws and three defeats) since a 1-0 win at FK Partizan in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Braga have not won in eight UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away games (five draws and three defeats) since a 2-1 victory at sc Heerenveen in the 2008/09 group stage, on 4 December 2008.

Team facts
• Braga full-back Emmanuel Imorou, a summer signing from LB Châteauroux, celebrates his 23rd birthday the day after the Birmingham game.

• Birmingham's only past Portuguese player of note is José Dominguez; the winger played at St Andrews from 1994 to 1995, later returning to England with Tottenham Hotspur FC from 1997 to 2000.

• Braga's most notable link to England is their colours; the club changed from green and white to red and white shirts in 1921 after their coach saw Arsenal in action during a trip to London. The club have been nicknamed the Arsenalistas ever since.

• Chris Hughton replaced Alex McLeish as Birmingham coach in June following their relegation from the Premier League. The London-born former Irish international left-back spent the bulk of his career at Tottenham, where he also started coaching. His first senior role came at Newcastle United FC from 2009 to 2010.

• Leonardo Jardim is in charge at Braga having replaced Sporting Clube de Portugal-bound Domingos Paciência in the summer. The Venezuelan-born boss was in charge at AD Camacha, GD Chaves and SC Beira-Mar before becoming Braga coach.