This is Braga’s first meeting with a Romanian club and likewise CFR’s first with Portuguese opposition but the ties between the two sides should ensure few surprises – Ioan Andone’s CFR squad includes six Portuguese players and three Braga old boys.
Braga will hope to avoid the kind of false start they suffered on their debut UEFA Champions League campaign in 2010/11, when they lost 6-0 at Arsenal FC and 3-0 at home to FC Shakhtar Donetsk in their first two fixtures. They recovered to finish third in their section – winning their two remaining home games – and went on to reach the final of that season’s UEFA Europa League.
Third in Portugal last term, José Peseiro’s team reached the group stage by beating Udinese Calcio on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw in the play-offs. Including their 1-1 first-leg draw with Udinese they have won just two of their last six home fixtures in UEFA competition.
For Romanian title holders CFR this is a third UEFA Champions League campaign in five seasons, after appearances in 2008/09 and 2010/11. In both instances they finished bottom of their group with four points.
After winning their first UEFA Champions League away fixture at AS Roma in 2008/09, CFR lost the following five. However, they can take confidence from their two away successes in this season’s qualifying rounds – winning 2-1 at both FC Slovan Liberec and FC Basel 1893. The latter was the first victory by a Romanian club in Switzerland.
Peseiro was in charge of FC Rapid Bucuresti between July 2008 and January 2009, working with Vasile Maftei. He earned a 1-0 home win against CFR in his third league match as Rapid coach.
Beto spent 2011/12 on loan at CFR from FC Porto, making 27 league appearances and winning the Romanian title. His successor at CFR, Mário Felgueiras, was Braga’s reserve goalkeeper in 2008/09, playing once alongside Alan as a substitute in a league fixture against Porto. In between loan spells elsewhere, Felgueiras started Braga’s two UEFA Champions League qualifying ties against Celtic FC in 2010/11.
Felgueiras was Sporting Clube de Portugal’s third-choice goalkeeper under Peseiro in 2004/05, sharing a dressing room with Custodio and Hugo Viana. He also played with Nuno Andre Coelho at Portimonense SC in 2007/08 and with Hélder Barbosa in the Portugal team that won the 2003 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Diogo Valente made eight league appearances for Braga in 2009/10. He played with Alan at Porto in 2006/07.
CFR’s other Braga old boy is Rafael Bastos, who made eight league outings in 2009/10.
CFR’s connections with Braga extend to their recent coaches. Antonio ‘Toni’ Conceicao, a former Braga player and assistant coach, held the CFR reins between April and November 2009 and won the Romanian Cup. Jorge Costa, Braga coach in 2007, was in charge at the Cluj-Napoca club for most of last season.
Cadu was sent off playing for Boavista FC against Braga in a 0-0 home draw in 2005/06.
Ivo Pinto played with Helder Barbosa on loan at Vitória FC in 2009/10. He was once a colleague of Cristiano Pereira in Portugal’s U21 team.
Five other CFR squad members have played in Portugal: Camora, Rui Pedro, Nicolas Godemeche, Laszlo Sepsi and Modou Sougou, taking the total to ten.
Braga’s assistant coach Fernando Couto helped Portugal beat Romania 1-0 in the UEFA EURO 2000 group stage.
Quim was in the SL Benfica side that eliminated FC Dinamo Bucure?ti in the UEFA Cup round of 32 in 2006/07.
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