Partizan vs Braga Preview

Partizan vs Braga Preview


Partizan Belgrade goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic has not given up hope of reaching the knockout stages.
This, despite his side remaining pointless after three games.
The Serbian champions host Braga on Wednesday night knowing that anything other than victory is likely to be terminal to their bid to reach the knockout phase.
Partizan are six points behind second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk, who face a tough task to take anything from their home match against runaway Group H leaders Arsenal.
As a result, tomorrow's game looms as the perfect opportunity for both Partizan and Braga to make up ground for the second qualification place.
Braga are best-placed to do that after their 2-0 win over Partizan in Portugal a fortnight ago - their only points of the campaign - and Serbia goalkeeper Stojkovic admits that means his side face a must-win situation.
"I will be satisfied only if we win," said Stojkovic, who made nine appearances for Braga three seasons ago before being loaned to Partizan.
"It does not matter whether we win by the slimmest of margins and it is not important if I concede. All we care about is winning the three points to extend our European dream.
"We do not feel any extra pressure because of the poor start we have made, there is still 270 minutes left."
With Shakhtar also set to make the trip to Belgrade next, Stojkovic has set his team a target of four points from those two home games in order to qualify, or at least sew up a Europa League place as the third-ranked team.
"We will seek in the next two rounds at home to win at least four points," he said.
"Maybe that momentum could take us into the next round of the Champions League.
"Even if none of that happens will will still have had a great experience that we must then implement in our Super League matches.
"We need to win our domestic title again and give ourselves the chance to compete with the best again."
Partizan will be favourites to claim their first ever Champions League win after their 3-0 win over Jagodina at the weekend moved them top of the Serbian league.
By contrast Braga suffered a 2-0 reverse against bottom club Rio Ave to slip down to sixth in the Portuguese Liga.
Despite that Partizan defender Mladen Krstajic is wary after goals from Lima and Matheus consigned his side to defeat in Portugal last time out.
"They have quick strikers and are strong on the counter," Krstajic told www.uefa.com.
"If we lose the ball in midfield, three or four players can be in on goal in a moment. We need to stay tight on them. Braga have a fantastic team."
Braga welcome Hugo Viana and Elton back into their squad from the team that lost at Rio Ave although midfielder Custodio will miss out.


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