Braga has a slight advantage coming to Athens for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League playoff against Panathinaikos. A lot is on the table for each unit, and knowing the Greek and the Portuguese temperament, we really expect to see war. Daniel Mancini’s score in the added time has provided hope for the Greeks and a headache for Braga, and the moment when he hit the back of the net back in Portugal could turn out to be crucial for the final outcome.
Although Panathinaikos (+145) might feel confident about turning the tide in front of their home crowd, their recent performances have been shady and questionable. The Greek squad has posted just two victories in the last eight contests, which isn’t impressive at all. However, the most recent success, a 3-0 win over Volos Super League, is something which boosts the morale of Ivan Jovanovic’s boys.
Also, them beating Marseille at Apostolos Nikolaidis is another reason why everyone in the green part of Athens believes in the advance to the knockout stage. It was a 1-0 victory over the former European champs, whom PAO eliminated in the previous round.
This team plays tough and defensive-minded football but is extremely dangerous in the moments when it has the initiative. One small mistake, or drop in concentration, can be deadly when you have Panathinaikos across the field.
Braga (+185) perfectly knows that they need to come out on Tuesday night with the utmost sense of urgency. There can’t be any errors, slow reactions, or, even worse, underestimation of the home unit. Yes, the Portuguese team played much better in the opening leg, but that late goal has put them in a nasty position.
Artur Jorge’s unit has problems in the back line, as they have encountered difficulties keeping a clean sheet in their last four matches. The defensive line will be under heavy pressure in Athens, as they have to face a very motivated rival and a very aggressive and fierce atmosphere, which isn’t that common back in their Primeira Liga.
PAO is in an excellent situation regarding injuries and suspensions because both lists are clear ahead of this event.
Al Mustrati, the Lybian international, should be ready for this event. Other than that, there aren’t any issues in Braga.
Head to Head Games
The first leg ended 2-1 for Braga. The first half saw no goals, but a very physical battle in the middle of the field. Abel Ruiz in the 51st and Alvaro Djalo in the 73rd minute scored for the hosts, while Mancini kept PAO’s hopes alive with a score in the fifth minute of the injury time.
Greeks firmly believe they can reach the Champions League, especially after surviving Velodrome two weeks ago. That was a major success for Jovanovic’s team, but on the other side, we need to say that Braga performed much better in the first leg. Whatever happens here, we are going with low efficiency, which would be under 2.5 picks, because both teams won’t risk anything in the opening 45 minutes. Braga comes to defend, and PAO won’t be keen to open early on.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals -110
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Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.