Who? – Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Sporting Braga
Where? – Molineux, Wolverhampton
When? – 20:00 GMT, Thursday 19th September, 2019
Wolves welcome Braga to Molineux in Group K of their first game of the UEFA Europa League group stages this season in what will be a Portuguese-dominated presence on and off the pitch for both sides.
The Premier League Midlanders, who were only in their first season back in the top-flight since promotion from the Championship, were huge dark horses and went on to secure seventh place last season and have come through some difficult qualifying rounds to get to this stage of the competition.
For the visitors, Braga enter the competition through their league finishes or by dropping down from the UEFA Champions League, with the side managing to go all the way to the Final back in 2010 but have failed to get beyond the Quarter-Finals since then.
Wolves – Willy Boly is available once again after his one-match suspension, whilst competition for places in the side is going to be fierce with the poor form in the Premier League meaning Nuno Espírito Santo could make some changes defensively and in the midfield.
Braga – The Portuguese side have no real injury concerns and due to some heavy rotation of players in the league, should be able to send out a side that could include Andre Horta or former Fulham striker Rui Fonte depending on how attacking his wishes to play against a very strong counter-attacking team like Wolves.
Like most teams who clinch that seventh spot to get Europa League football, Wolves have shown that despite performing well in the competition, they are not being able to compete to their best in the Premier League and the side are still yet to win this season having only picked up three points in the process and they are coming off the back of a 5-2 mauling at home to Chelsea.
Braga find themselves in a very similar situation, and despite winning their opening league game of the season 3-1 to Moreirense, they have lost three and drawn one of their last four games including a 4-0 thrashing home defeat to Benfica having knocked out Spartak Moscow in the final qualifying round of the Europa League.
Wolves – Raúl Jiménez
The strong Mexican striker has been ever-present for Wolves since his arrival from Benfica and the decision to make the deal permanent was a big coup for the club as his goal-scoring record, particular in this competition, is very strong and he will be expected to hit the back of the net or create a chance for strike partner Diogo Jota.
Braga – Wilson Eduardo
The experienced Portuguese-born Angolan forward, who can play across all three front line positions, has been at the club since 2015 and in 64 league games, has found the net on 28 occasions including two this season whilst being able to net six times in 29 appearances across multiple seasons of Europa League football.
History will be made as these sides have never met in the competition before.
A rather tough one to call considering the form and the key injuries to both sides meaning there could be a lack of creative spark in the final third so it could go down to who creates the better chances for Karim Benzema and Mauro Icardi.
*odds as of September 18th at 16:20 and subject to change
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