Braga vs Hoffenheim, Thursday, November 23 20:05 BST/21:05 CET Estádio Municipal de Braga – Braga, Portugal
Matchday 5 in Europa League Group C could prove decisive for both Braga and Hoffenheim. Last time they met, in the first group stage game back in September, Hoffenheim dictated play for the most part but Braga came from behind to win 2-1 after Sandro Wagner gave his side an early lead in Sinsheim. Another victory for the Portuguese side would ensure passage to the knockout phase.
For Hoffenheim, failure to win could mean elimination from the Europa League. Ludogorets currently lead the group with 8 points, and a draw at home against Istanbul Basaksehir would eliminate Achtzehn should Julian Nagelsmann’s suffer defeat at the Estádio Municipal on Thursday evening.
But it’s not a hopeless cause for Hoffenheim despite the fact that Braga have been beaten just once in European competition this season. Ludogorets were able to take three points on their travels to Braga (despite being out-shot 21 to 5), so Hoffenheim will be hoping to emulate the Bulgarian side. The back-to-back fixtures against Ludogorets cooled off Braga’s momentum as well – after winning their first two group stage games, they have failed to win either of the past two.
SC Braga vs Hoffenheim – Players to Watch:
Danilo Barbosa da Silva #11 – SC Braga
Still only 21, Danilo has been highly touted as a defensive midfield prospect for quite some time, before making his senior debut for Vasco da Gama, a €4.5 million sale was agreed with Jorge Mendes and Gestifute in September 2013, which would see him assigned to Braga in January 2014, but didn’t join the Portuguese club until July. Now, Danilo is finally getting the chance to make his mark at Braga after loan spells to Valencia CF, SL Benfica and Standard Liege. There is still much more to come from the 2015 U20 World Cup Silver Ball winner. Danilo is finally making his mark now that he’s been able to stay fit, already playing 19 times across all competitions for Braga in the 2017/18 campaign. The loan spell with Benfica, over the first half of last season, didn’t go so well, as most of it was spent on the sidelines or in the trainer’s office with . But now Danilo is starting to show the consistent form that saw him play 34 games for Valencia two seasons ago.
Kerem Demirbay #11 – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Tasked with keeping the Hoffenheim attack ticking, Kerem Demirbay is the heartbeat of an aggressive side that likes to play through the centre of the park. An attacking midfielder that likes to dribble, Demirbay has the eye and the technique to play a killer ball as well. Perhaps he’s been a little more focused on completing his passes in the Europa League, raising his accuracy to 87.4% on Thursday nights, compared to his Bundesliga completion rate of 80%. This has resulted in the twice-capped German bagging two assists in three UEL Group Stage appearances (both came in a Man of the Match performance against Basaksehir where Demirbay bossed the show for 63 minutes before coming off with his side 2-0 up), compared to just one in 10 Bundesliga games this year. That’s not to say he’s had a poor domestic campaign. Demirbay continues to be influential for Nagelsmann, who was able to secure his signing from Hamburger SV last summer for a paltry €1.7 million.
Braga vs Hoffenheim Match Stats
- Neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet in this season’s Europa League
- Hoffenheim have scored at least 1 goal in all 6 UEFA games in club history
- The Portuguese side cross the ball twice as often as the Germans, with Braga attempting crosses 6% of the time compared to just 3% for Hoffenheim
- Raúl Silva, Ricardo Ferreira and Marcelo Goiano (Braga); Dennis Geiger, Kerem Demirbay and Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim) will all be suspended for the final group stage match if booked in this fixture
- Braga’s last win in all competitions was on 29 October; Hoffenheim’s came on 5 November
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Braga vs Hoffenheim 1-2
Braga vs Hoffenheim – Possible Lineups
Matheus – Goiano, Ferreira, Silva, Jefferson – Esgaio, Danilo, Vukcevic, Teixeira – Paulinho, Hassan
Manager: Abel Ferreira
Baumann – Nordveit, Vogt, Hoogma – Polanski – Ochs, Amiri, Demirbay, Zuber – Kramaric, Wagner
Manager: Julian Nagelsmann
Although he hated the sport as a child, Jack Grimse eventually developed an obsession for the beautiful game despite the fact that he chose to support Aston Villa. A broadcast journalism graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jack fell in love with Bundesliga football while studying in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter: @JackGrimse