The main reason the Black Eagles, as Beşiktaş is popularly called, are winless in four outings is because the team has been reduced to bare bones due to a string of injuries. Most of the injured have not healed, and so the Eagles are still depleted ahead of the Braga encounter.
Injured keeper Rüştü Reçber, midfielder Mehmet Aurelio and left back Roberto Hilbert missed practice sessions over the weekend in İstanbul, while convalescing defender İsmail Köybaşı, striker Hugo Almeida and 18-year-old stopper Atınç Nukan trained separately from the team. And none of these players are expected to be fit before match time.
Portugal playmaker Ricardo Quaresma may have recovered from a long-term injury, but he may not be fit enough to play for 90 minutes.
Ironically, Braga is the birthplace of Beşiktaş coach Carlos Carvalhal and the team where the center back started his professional football career in 1983-85. Carvalhal returned to the team in 1986-88 and played his third and final time in Braga in 1990-92.
And Braga is one of the 13 teams the much-traveled Carvalhal has managed in his coaching career, in 2006. Commenting on the Beşiktaş-Braga two-leg matches after the draw was made, Braga-born Carvalhal said: “I had mixed feelings over the draw. First, there was a feeling of not wanting it and second of liking it. Braga is my hometown and my former team. I was the coach of a team I had been a player of for many years and will therefore be up against a team I really know.”
Braga has lost just once in eight European games this season, recording three wins and four draws. That defeat -- against Club Brugge -- was their only loss in 10 European home games, seven of which ended in victory. Braga has also reached the round of 32 for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Braga, placed third in the 16-team Portuguese league with 42 points in 18 outings, prepared for Tuesday’s match with a 3-0 home victory over Setubal in the domestic league on Friday.
Last season, Beşiktaş made it through the round of 32 for the first time since the advent of the UEFA Cup group stage, only to lose 8-1 on aggregate to FC Dynamo Kiev. They met again in this season’s group stage, and both teams won their home matches by the same score -- 1-0. It is therefore going to be an emotional night for Carvalhal, but as a professional coach, he has to choose club over country. Russian side Rubin hosts Olympiakos of Greece in the other Europa League game on Tuesday. The other Europa League games, including Trabzonspor vs. PSV Eindhoven, will be played on Thursday.
Star TV 19:30 Braga vs. Beşiktaş