Europa League final preview: FC Porto v SC Braga
Your pre-match guide to the all-Portuguese Europa League showdown in Dublin on Wednesday night
Local Portuguese rivals Porto and Braga are gearing up for their Europa League final showdown in Dublin on Wednesday.
Andre Villas-Boas’ men, who won the Portuguese league without losing a single game this season, take on their neighbours at the Dublin Arena as the Porto boss looks to emulate Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning season in 2003.
Braga coach Domingos PaciÃƒÂªncia, meanwhile, has announced that he will leave the club after the clash in Dublin despite steering his new team to a club-best second place in the Liga in his first term in charge last season.
The two sides have never met before in Europe and this is only the second European tie to be contested by two Portuguese sides after Braga eliminated Benfica in the first in this season’s semi-finals, losing 2-1 in Lisbon but prevailing on away goals with a 1-0 home victory.
They have faced each other 131 times in domestic encounters. Porto have claimed 92 wins to Braga’s 17 with 22 draws.
The two sides have met in the final of the Portuguese Cup twice: Porto won 1-0 in 1977 and 3-1 in 1998.
Porto have triumphed in the clubs’ last three meetings, scoring nine goals and conceding three. Braga last beat the Portuguese champions in a 1-0 home victory on 19 September 2009 – Braga’s only win in their last nine games against the blue-and-whites.
Did you know?
No previous Uefa club competition final has been contested by sides this close in geographic terms; Porto and Braga are just 47km apart. The previous record was set in the 1988 Uefa Super Cup, between KV Mechelen and PSV Eindhoven.
This is Braga’s first appearance in a European final. Before this season their most substantial achievements in Europe were reaching the Uefa Cup round of 16 in 2006-07 and 2008-09.
Porto manager Andre Villas-Boas will be 32 years and 213 days old on the day of the final and, should his side prevail, would become the youngest coach to win a Uefa club competition.
Having wrapped up the Portuguese League title in April, Villas-Boas could emulate Jose Mourinho’s 2003 achievement and end the season with a treble. Porto contest the Portuguese Cup final on 22 May.
Braga coach Domingos PaciÃƒÂªncia was a prolific striker at Porto, whom he represented from 1987-97 and again from 1999-2001. If Braga win in Dublin, PaciÃƒÂªncia will become the first coach to defeat a side he represented as a player in a Uefa Cup or Europa League final.
Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas said:
“I respect Jose Mourinho, but don’t want to be his clone. I want to be able to work freely, without restraint, without worrying what he thinks.
“It’s very easy to compare things, but if you look at our personalities and what we have achieved, it’s very different. I don’t see myself reaching that level of success.”
Braga coach Domingos PaciÃƒÂªncia said:
“In a final, and given how the season has gone, it’s natural that Porto are big favourites. But it’s a final – it’s just one match.
“With the right inspiration and motivation, many situations can occur in a match that can get you a goal. That is what makes us believe it’s possible to win.”
Last five meetings
24 Sep 2009 – Porto 1 Braga 1
19 Sep 2009 – Braga 1 Porto 0
21 Feb 2010 – Porto 5 Braga 1
11 Sep 2010 – Porto 3 Braga 2
13 Feb 2011 – Braga 0 Porto 2
Porto v Braga, Uefa Europa League final
Dublin Arena – Wednesday 18 May 2011 – 7:45pm UK
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)