Manchester United is a win away from guaranteeing a spot in the quarterfinals after winning its first three Group H games in the Champions League. Braga is fighting to be the second team to advance out of the group and earn itself more respect in Europe along the way.
They sit on different perches in the hierarchy of European football, but they'll be on a level playing field with three points on the line this Wednesday.
Behind Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Antonio Valencia and Nani, the Red Devils boast the big stars in this contest. But remember, it was Braga who scored the first two goals (in 20 minutes) when the teams first met before Manchester United staged an epic comeback to win.
Don't expect Braga to go quietly into the night. Let's take a closer look at this competitive matchup.
Where: Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal
When: Wednesday, November 6 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX Soccer
Stream: FOX Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
Braga is a team that is starting to see itself as a contending club that demands to be taken seriously. As Andy Brassell of ESPN noted, that was apparent the first time these two teams met:
Those who saw them tread fearlessly into the first match with United—much in the manner of Benfica last year, prior to the departures of Javi Garcia and Axel Witsel—may have sensed more of a sea change. After the match at Old Trafford 15 days ago, Peseiro and goalscorer Alan talked of "disappointment" and "a missed opportunity."
Whereas the aim of Braga's Champions League virgins two years ago was, in the words of Domingos, to make "a few chances on the counter," here was a side that was prepared to make things happen rather than wait and see, just as they had in their surprise win at Galatasaray in the second match of the group stage.
Most Important Player to Watch: Robin van Persie, Manchester United
Assuming he plays, van Persie is absolutely the most dangerous player United has on the pitch at the moment. He has 10 goals in 13 appearances and has looked like a natural fit in Manchester United's system. His movement has been brilliant, and his finishing has been clinical.
With the possibility United could clinch a berth in the next round by winning this game and thus rest its stars for the next two group games, I would imagine he would be on the pitch.
But if he's given the night off, look for Javier Hernandez to make an impact. Chicharito has been hot of late, with four goals in his last four appearances for the Red Devils.
Key Matchup: Alan vs. Depleted Manchester United Back Line
Braga striker Alan scored two goals the first time these two teams played, and he'll certainly be a threat again, especially with Man United missing Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in defense.
Manchester United have proven they can simply outscore many opponents when the defense fails them, but they would certainly prefer a 2-0 victory over a nervy 3-2 affair like the first time these teams met.
Keep a close eye on Alan. If he can exploit the depleted Red Devils' defense, the Portuguese side might be able to steal at least a point in this contest.
Manchester United is on fire right now. Braga won't go down without a fight, but look for the Red Devils to sneak away with a fourth win in the group stage, 2-1.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!