Both teams fight for a place in the Champions League. The big talking point in Sunday’s encounter is that the Lions are 10 points off their upcoming opponents in the table.
Defensive injuries have left coach Franky Vercauteren without a right back. Arias and Pereirinha are injured while Cédric is suspended. B team players, Eric Dier or Ricardo Esgaio, could subsequently make the cut. Boulahrouz and Pranjic are also injured.
SC Braga's team will have six players in Portugal’s roster for next Wednesday’s international friendly against Gabon. Custodio, however, will not play this Sunday through suspension. Meanwhile, Paulo Vinicius is still injured but German centre back Haas returns to the squad.
Once again, it is a decisive match for Sporting. They have now gone eight consecutive games without victory under three different coaches. Against Braga, only victory counts. However, Jose Peseiro’s men are favourites to win looking at their current form.
There is a great blend of confidence and good results within Sporting Braga who have big targets this season. Fighting Benfica and FC Porto to claim the league title is number one on their wish list. If they beat Sporting, they will also be closer to their second goal: to ensure a place in the Champions League. That is what is at stake in this match.
Head to Head – Last five matches
12/05/2012: Sporting 3-2 SC Braga
15/01/2012: SC Braga 2-1 Sporting
20/11/2011: Sporting 2-0 SC Braga
14/05/2011: SC Braga 0-1 Sporting
08/01/2011: Sporting 2-1 SC Braga
The last time Braga won at Alvalade was on August 22, 2009. Alan, Braga’s captain, scored in that match which finished 2-1.
If Eric Dier or Ricardo Esgaio play, it will be their first match in Portuguese Primeira Liga, and also their first professional match with Sporting CP’s senior team.
SC Braga’s head coach, José Peseiro, and players Beto, Nuno André Coelho, Custódio and Hugo Viana all played in Sporting CP in the past. Custodio and Hugo Viana two league titles during their spell with the Lions.
It will be one more game without a win for Sporting CP. However, Braga will not be able to get the three points either.
Sporting 1-1 SC Braga