Defeated by late goals in their opening two fixtures, Beşiktaş are attempting to get back in contention as they play host to Braga.
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Defeated by late goals in each of their opening two Group K fixtures, Beşiktaş have their work cut out to get back in contention as they play host to a Braga side who arrive in Istanbul with four points on the board.
• Beşiktaş surrendered the lead and conceded two added-time goals in going down 4-2 at Slovan Bratislava on Matchday 1, and there was more late woe two weeks later in Istanbul as they allowed Wolves to pilfer the only goal of the game in the 93rd minute. Braga, meanwhile, beat Wolves 1-0 at Molineux before drawing 2-2 at home to Slovan.
• Beşiktaş came out on top in the only previous UEFA contest between the clubs, winning their 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against the previous season's runners-up 2-1 on aggregate – though they lost the second leg at home (0-1) after a 2-0 win in Braga.
• In fact, the Black Eagles have never beaten a Portuguese club at home in six attempts, losing the first three matches and drawing the next three, the most recent against Porto (1-1) in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Braga's overall record against Turkish clubs is W7 D1 L4, and although they have won on three of their six visits to Turkey, the three most recent have produced two defeats and a draw, the latest loss (1-2) coming in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage against an İstanbul Başakşehir side coached by current Beşiktaş boss Abdullah Avcı.
• Third in the 2018/19 Turkish Süper Lig, Beşiktaş's reward was direct access to the UEFA Europa League group stage; they also participated last season, failing to reach the round of 32.
• This is the Istanbul club's sixth participation in the UEFA Europa League group stage, from which they have qualified three times but come up short on each of the last two occasions. Their best season in the competition came in 2016/17 when, after finishing third in their UEFA Champions League group, they went on to reach the quarter-finals, where they succumbed on penalties to Lyon.
• Beşiktaş's 32 matches in the UEFA Europa League group stage have yielded 15 wins, eight draws and nine defeats. In Istanbul their record is W9 D3 L4, but they are currently on a three-game losing streak, the Wolves reverse following back-to-back losses last term against Genk (2-4) and Malmö (0-1).
• Braga's 15th European qualification in the last 16 years was achieved with a fourth-placed finish in the 2018/19 Portuguese Liga, a season in which their European ambitions ended early with elimination on away goals by Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
• Brøndby (4-2 a, 3-1 h) and Spartak Moskva (1-0 h, 2-1 a) were both overcome in this season's qualifying phase to take Braga into the group stage for the fifth time. They have made further progress on three of the previous four occasions, though their best season in the competition – and in Europe overall – came in 2010/11 when they crossed over in mid-campaign from the UEFA Champions League and knocked out, among others, Liverpool and Benfica before losing 1-0 in the Dublin final to domestic rivals Porto.
• Braga are unbeaten in nine European games (W6 D3), their last defeat having come at Marseille (0-3) in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League round of 32. Their away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W4 D6 L3, with all four wins, curiously, having occurred on Matchday 1.
Links and trivia
• Beşiktaş forward Abdoulay Diaby is on loan from Sporting CP, having been a regular Portuguese Liga participant for the Lisbon club last term.
• Other Beşiktaş players to have played in Portugal are Rebocho (Benfica B, Moreirense), Tyler Boyd (Vitória SC, Tondela) and Douglas (Benfica).
• Braga goalkeeper Eduardo spent 2012/13 on loan at Beşiktaş's local rivals İstanbul BB.
• Beşiktaş's Mohamed Elneny and Braga's Ahmed Hassan play together for Egypt.
• Diaby was a team-mate of Braga's Claudemir at Club Brugge for two seasons; they won the Belgian title together in 2015/16.
• Beşiktaş duo Georges-Kévin N'Koudou and Burak Yılmaz have both scored European goals in wins against Braga for previous clubs, the former for Marseille in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage (1-0 h), the latter for Galatasaray in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage (2-1 a).
• Appointed by Beşiktaş on a three-year contract in May 2019 to replace Şenol Güneş, who had left to take charge of the Turkish national side, Abdullah Avcı moved across the city having just led İstanbul Başakşehir to a runners-up spot in the Süper Lig. That ended the second of his two five-year spells with the club, which was preceded by an unsuccessful two-year sojourn in charge of the Turkish national side. He had previously led the country to victory in the 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Italy.
• A gifted support striker who represented Portugal on 45 occasions, scoring ten goals, and appeared at the UEFA European Championship in 1996 and 2000, Ricardo Sá Pinto spent the majority of his club career at Sporting CP, his two spells at the Lisbon club broken by a three-year stint at Real Sociedad. His first head coach position was back at Sporting, in 2012, but it was short-lived and from there he moved abroad, working in Serbia, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and latterly Poland with Legia Warszawa before signing a two-year contract with Braga in July 2019.
The FootballPeople weeks take place from 10 to 24 October 2019 and are organised by UEFA's social responsibility partner Fare. The weeks are a global campaign aimed at tackling discrimination and celebrating diversity in football. The UEFA Europa League is offering its full support to the FootballPeople weeks; teams will line up for a mixed photo with the referees, while an #EqualGame hashtag will also be on display. Videos will be played on giant screens at stadiums across Europe, and child mascots will be wearing #FootballPeople t-shirts. UEFA's collaboration with the Fare network's FootballPeople weeks has been running since 2001. The aim of this initiative fits in perfectly with the goals of #EqualGame, which is looking to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility.