You can watch Celtic take on Braga live online as well as all other Champions League matches, plus hundreds of football games from around the world. Read our Celtic v Braga 2nd Leg Preview page for more details.
The following article is a preview of the first leg.
SC Braga vs Celtic
First Leg, Third Qualifying Round, Champions League
Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal
Wednesday, 28th July 2010
It is not really until about now that you realize how good or bad your team performed last season. Obviously you know where they have finished in the league in May and you know the consequences of this (relegation, promotion, Europe etcetera). For Blackpool fans, for instance, that play-off victory over Cardiff means Premiership football, but at the time the prospect doesn’t really begin to sink in.
That feeling of excitement is great for Blackpool fans, or for Spurs fans getting Champions League football for the first time. It effects followers of every team, right down to Stevenage’s first season in the Football League.
If you haven’t done as well as you should’ve, however, this time of the year isn’t particular enjoyable. While clubs are doing their tours of North America/ Austrailia/ Asia/ where ever the money is, I, as a follower of Celtic, have to endure Champions League qualifications. It’s an awkward tie, against S.C. Braga of Portugal.
It’s awkward for many reasons; a July night in Portugal combined with a possible lack of match-fitness isn’t ideal, nor is the opposition; Braga aren’t one of those “big European names” but they finished 2nd in the Portuguese Superliga, above Porto and Sporting Lisbon. One can only hope that the new signings click and that the solar-powered Samaras (he only plays well in warm, sunny conditions) can continue the form he has showed in the friendlies in North America.
I hate these qualifications. For something as serious as the Champions League these matches feel as though they have just turned up to soon. Is it a reason to restructure our league so that Scottish teams are ready for these matches? Possibly. Champions League qualifiers are like high school exams which potentially can alter your life but you have to sit when you are seventeen. At least when you are seventeen you can still get a job, if Celtic lose this tie there won’t even be Europa League.
As a consequence of this, there will be no money and the current vicious circle of Scottish football (perform poorly because there is no money to spend on players, and with no money to improve teams perform badly) will continue.
It might also be because Celtic have a habit of falling at this early hurdle; loses to Arsenal and Basel in the past are by no means disgraceful, and victories against Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow and Ajax provide some fond memories. But everyone remembers Artmedia Bratislava. To lose 5-0 to a team that sounds like a technical college, well, that just sticks in the memory for the exact opposite reasons for which Seville is remembered.
Of course Celtic deserve this banana-skin. Last season was truly awful, dropping points at every away ground like a Christian Aid shoe box appeal. The Mowbray experiment failed, explosively in some cases (4-0 away to St. Mirren springs to mind). This means that while Rangers enjoy the luxury of direct entry to the Champions League (the last time in a long while that this will happen, due to the poor performances of Scottish teams in recent years), if Celtic are to join them they will probably have tougher opposition than what Braga can muster.
Last season, that was Arsenal, this year it’s likely the opposition will be of similar standard. I blame Michel Platini for making qualifying “fairer”, which it has, but it doesn’t benefit teams like Celtic who, due to the competitiveness of the SPL, are in the Champions League by default.
We only have this to worry about if Celtic defeat Braga, of course.
Watch SC Braga vs Celtic
You can watch Celtic take on Braga live online as well as all other Champions League matches, plus hundreds of football games from around the world. Read our live Champions League football page for more details.