Top plays bottom in Group K as Braga host a Beşiktaş side that have lost all three matches, the latest in Istanbul against their Portuguese rivals.
Article top media content
Top plays bottom in Group K as Braga, on seven points, host a Beşiktaş side that have lost all of their opening three matches, the latest of them 1-2 in Istanbul against their Portuguese rivals, who won for the second time on the road thanks to goals from Ricardo Horta and Wilson Eduardo.
• Braga also triumphed away to Wolves, 1-0 at Molineux, on Matchday 1 before drawing 2-2 at home to Slovan Bratislava. Beşiktaş, meanwhile, conceded two added-time goals in going down 4-2 at Slovan before suffering more late misfortune two weeks later in Istanbul as Wolves got the only goal of the game in the 93rd minute.
• Though defeated by Braga last time out, Beşiktaş came out on top in the only other 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 thanks to a 2-0 first-leg win in Portugal.
• Braga's overall record against Turkish clubs is now W8 D1 L4, with four wins and two defeats in the six home fixtures, including victories in all of the last three, most recently 2-1 against an İstanbul Başakşehir side coached by current Beşiktaş boss Abdullah Avcı in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• While the Black Eagles have never beaten a Portuguese club at home in seven attempts (D3 L4), they have won three times in Portugal, the most memorable victory arguably coming on their most recent visit two seasons ago, when they opened their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign by triumphing 3-1 at Porto – a result that set them on the path to winning the group.
• 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 ten European games (W7 D3) and have won six out of seven this season. Their home record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W8 D2 L3 and in the competition proper W13 D4 L5.
• 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 33 matches in the UEFA Europa League group stage have yielded 15 wins, eight draws and ten defeats. Outside Istanbul their record is W6 D5 L5, both of their previous away fixtures on Matchday 4 having finished 1-1.
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).
• Diaby was a team-mate of Braga's Claudemir at Club Brugge for two seasons; they won the Belgian title together in 2015/16.
• Braga goalkeeper Eduardo spent 2012/13 on loan at Beşiktaş's local rivals İstanbul BB.
• Braga's Ahmed Hassan and Beşiktaş's Mohamed Elneny play together for Egypt.
• 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).
• Braga midfielder André Horta, who has started the club’s first three group games, celebrates his 23rd birthday on Matchday 4.
• 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.
• 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.