UEFA Europa League – Marseille-Braga – Marseille v Braga background
Two teams that began their 2017/18 UEFA Europa League campaign in the third qualifying round meet in the round of 32 as Marseille host Braga in the first leg at the Stade Vélodrome.
• The French club finished second in Group I to Salzburg after winning two, drawing two and losing two of their six matches. Braga topped Group C with ten points – the lowest tally recorded by any of the 12 section winners.
• This is one of only two ties in this season’s UEFA Europa League round of 32 in which the participants have previously met in European competition, the other being FC København v Atlético Madrid.
• These two clubs traded home wins in the group stage of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage, Braga winning 3-2 on matchday three – all the goals coming in the final half-hour, including three in the last six minutes. Ahmed Hassan scored Braga’s opening goal past Steve Mandanda.
• Marseille recorded a 1-0 win in the south of France a fortnight later. Both clubs qualified for the round of 32.
• Marseille’s overall European record against Portuguese clubs is W3 D2 L7. All of those three wins came at home, most recently 2-1 against Vitória SC in the group stage of this season’s UEFA Europa League; OM lost the away game 1-0.
• Braga’s only other games against French opposition brought defeat in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 16 as they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain (0-0 away, 0-1 home).
• Marseille have won four of their five European games at the Stade Vélodrome this season, drawing the other. They have scored ten goals, conceding three. Their last home defeat in Europe came two years ago in the round of 32 first leg when they lost 1-0 to Athletic Club.
• Braga have gone 22 European fixtures without a clean sheet but have lost just once in their last seven away fixtures in UEFA competition (W2 D4) – their 2-1 defeat at İstanbul Başakşehir on matchday six.
• UEFA Cup runners-up in 1998/99 and 2003/04, and quarter-finalists in 2008/09, Marseille are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the third time. They overcame FC København 6-2 on aggregate at this juncture in 2009/10 but lost 2-1 over two legs to Athletic Club in 2015/16.
• Marseille finished fifth in last season’s Ligue 1 and entered the UEFA Europa League in the third qualifying round, where they defeated Belgium’s Oostende 4-2 on aggregate before getting the better of Slovenian side Domžale in the play-offs (4-1).
• Fifth in Portugal last term, and runners-up in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, Braga are competing in the round of 32 for the fourth time – and seventh including the UEFA Cup.
• Like Marseille, Braga began this season in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, where they edged out Swedish side AIK 3-2 after extra time before winning home and away against Iceland’s FH in the play-offs (5-3 on aggregate). They finished first in a group containing Ludogorets, İstanbul Başakşehir and Hoffenheim.
• The last time Braga topped their UEFA Europa League group, in 2015/16 (when they finished above Marseille), they went on to reach the quarter-finals, defeating Sion 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 32.
Links and trivia
• Marseille’s Rolando (Campomaiorense 1999–2003, Belenenses 2003–08, Porto 2008–15) and Kostas Mitroglou (Benfica 2015–17) have both played for Portuguese clubs.
• Rolando’s 16 matches against Braga have yielded ten victories, including the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final, which Porto won 1-0 in Dublin. Mitroglou has a perfect record against Braga, with five wins out of five, in which he has scored five goals – two of them past current Braga goalkeeper Matheus.
• André Horta and Danilo were team-mates with Mitroglou at Benfica in 2016/17; Danilo also played alongside Aymen Abdennour at Valencia in 2015/16.
• Marseille defender Adil Rami won the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with Sevilla, starting seven matches including the final against Liverpool.
• Braga’s Fransérgio scored four goals in the group stage, having never previously found the net in European competition.
• Marseille coach since October 2016, Rudi Garcia started out as a midfielder at Lille, returning to lead the club from 2008–13 and masterminding their Ligue 1/Coupe de France double triumph in 2010/11. He subsequently spent three seasons in charge of Roma, leading the Giallorossi to back-to-back runners-up spots in Serie A.
• At the Braga helm since April 2017, Abel Ferreira was previously the club’s B team coach. A right-back, he graduated from home-town side Penafiel to play for Vitória SC, Braga and Sporting CP, with whom he won the Portuguese Cup in each of his first two seasons. He retired from playing in 2011 to take charge of Sporting’s junior teams.