SC Braga: A rough guide
Written by Tom Easterby
The final away game of Newcastle United's pre-season schedule takes place at Braga on Wednesday night, rounding off the Magpies' five-day camp in Portugal.
To whet your appetite, check out our handy guide to the club, the city and the stadium.
LAST SEASON: The 2017/18 Primeira Liga season saw Braga secure a fourth-place finish, with only Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and eventual champions FC Porto above them. It means Os Arcebispos – who were just six points shy of a Champions League spot – will again compete in Europe in the coming campaign, entering the Europa League at the third qualifying round stage.
Braga featured in the Europa League last term too, reaching the round of 32 before being eliminated by Marseille, who went on to be beaten by Atlético Madrid in the final. Former Magpie Florian Thauvin was on target in the French side’s 3-0 win over Braga in the first leg, while a 1-0 win for the Portuguese outfit wasn’t enough to see them progress.
THE MANAGER: Abel Ferreira has been in the Braga hot seat for just over a year, having taken over from Jorge Simão in 2017. The 39-year-old enjoyed a 14-year playing career, featuring at right back for Penafiel, Vitória Guimarães and the club he now manages, before hanging up his boots in 2011 after a distinguished spell at Sporting Lisbon.
Since then, he has coached Sporting’s youth and B sides before taking a similar role at Braga in 2015, progressing to the manager’s job after stints with the B team and as interim boss.
THE PLAYERS: There aren’t too many familiar faces in the Braga side, with just one of the current squad – former Liverpool, Brentford and Brighton man João Carlos Teixeira – having previously played in England.
Former Newcastle midfielder Hugo Viana enjoyed a spell with Braga between 2010 and 2013, having previously played for the club on loan from Valencia. One of the current squad, Portuguese frontman Paulinho could be one to watch, having bagged 17 goals in all competitions last season, while Matheus, Ricardo Esgaio, Danilo, Nikola Vukčević and Ricardo Horta form a solid spine.
THE LOWDOWN: Situated in the north western district of the same name, the city of Braga is the seventh largest municipality in terms of population in Portugal - it is home to over 192,000 people.
It is a vibrant, young city which, with its array of lively restaurants, cafes and bars, was announced as the European Youth Capital in 2012. Braga also has a strong religious connection; its cathedral is the oldest archdiocese in the country and dates back to the 12th century. Indeed, the Primeira Liga outfit’s nickname translates as ‘the Archbishops’.
GETTING THERE: Newcastle Airport only flies to Faro in Portugal, which is in the south of the country and a lengthy six-hour train journey from Braga.
There are fairly regular flights to Porto from the UK, though, which is just an hour’s train journey away from the venue of United’s penultimate pre-season outing of the summer.
The Estádio Municipal de Braga is one of Europe’s most recognisable stadiums. It is a relatively new stadium, having been built in 2003 ahead of the following year’s European Championships where it hosted two group stage fixtures.
Built into the Monte de Castro quarry face which provides the backdrop behind one of the goals, the ground’s current capacity is 30,286, which is spread across two large stands on either side of the pitch. There is no stand behind the goal opposite the quarry face, which instead gives way to a view across the city.
Underneath the pitch, there is a vast plaza to allow supporters to move between the two stands.