Birmingham kick off their first European campaign in 50 years, but can they defy the odds to beat last year’s runners-up SC Braga?
The Portuguese club are unbeaten in four league games this season and are priced at a generous 7/4, making it hard to see why they are not favourites for the match.
However, in the summer they lost Domingos Paciência, their inspirational manager, and he took a raft of players to Sporting Lisbon with him, leaving Leonardo Jardim a rebuilding job at Estádio Municipal.
Birmingham also switched their manager in the summer and Chris Hughton has had a positive effect on the Blues’ and their style of play, which is reflected in their odds of 31/20 and slight favouritism.
Braga have conceded only one goal this season, notching six in reply, while Birmingham have won their last two home games 3-0, including a win over another Portuguese club, Nacional de Madeira.
The significance of those stats is that it is evident, when at home, Birmingham like to create chances and attack, which will fit perfectly into Braga’s counter-punching style of play.
You can expect Birmingham to see large amounts of the ball in the match, but Braga will look to break in numbers, where the likes of Hugo Viana and Nuno Gomes can surprise the Blues’ backline.
It only takes one counter to win a game and if Braga convert that chance, it could be game over as they’ve proven to be solid defensively this season.
With this in mind, the 27/4 on Braga winning 1-0 appears to be an attractive bet. Punters who use their free £25 bet for joining bwin.com on this scoreline could win £181.25 if it comes in!
Birmingham will look to attack from the off in this game and a first-half goal is a real possibility. Of course, this will also leave early chances for Braga too and the price of 15/4 on both teams scoring in the first half could be a lucrative option.
The Blues have opened the scoring in every game they have played that contained goals this season so even money on that happening again is also worth a look if you think the Championship side will turn early pressure into a lead.
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