1. FC Union Berlin have endured a rollercoaster few weeks since their last UEFA Champions League outing in Naples. 

A heavy defeat to Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen followed the 1-1 draw against SSC Napoli, signalling the end of Urs Fischer's five-and-a-half-year stint at the club. 

Most Union fans greeted the decision with great sadness as the beloved boss had brought unprecedented success to the club. 

But, after 14 games without a win, Club President Dirk Zingler and Fischer felt it best to call time on their relationship. 

His absence left Union's u19s coach Marco Grote in temporary charge of the team on Saturday, deputised by Marie-Louise Eta

The assistant made history at the weekend, becoming the first-ever female assistant coach in the Bundesliga

The duo enjoyed a relatively successful Saturday, steering Die Eisernen to a 1-1 draw at home to FC Augsburg

An 88th-minute Kevin Volland strike earned them their first Bundesliga point since September. 

Further changes at the club have occurred since then, as they announced the appointment of a new permanent boss, Nenad Bjelica, on Monday. 

The Croatian arrives in Germany as a relative unknown, having managed in Turkey, Italy, and his native country. 

He has scored some early points with fans by retaining Eta as an assistant.  

Her permanent appointment will lead to more history on Wednesday as she becomes the first-ever female assistant coach in the Champions League

She won the 2010 UEFA Women's Champions League as a Turbine Potsdam player.

How Bjelica plans to set up his side on Wednesday will be intriguing.

After years of Fischer's wing-back style, the players may be deployed in a new system, as the Croatian rarely used these positions at his previous clubs. 

SC Braga will provide a solid test for the new boss before he is chucked into the deep end for his first Bundesliga game, away at Bayern Munich

Hosts Braga are experiencing a season that has become typical in recent years. They sit fourth in the Liga NOS, four points behind leaders  SL Benfica

If they want to match last season's third-placed finish, they need to close a gap of two points separating them and FC Porto.

Os Arcebispos (The Archbishops) have not lost a domestic game since September, a run bookended by a comprehensive 4-1 win away at Portimonense on Saturday in the Taça de Portugal.

However, their Champions League exploits have added blots to their record. 

Since October's 3-2 victory away in Berlin, the Portuguese club have lost back-to-back games to Real Madrid, 1-2 and 3-0 respectively. 

They can still mathematically qualify for the knockout stages but will rely on other results to overhaul second-placed Napoli

These defeats leave them third in Group C on three points, only two ahead of Union, giving this fixture a heightened importance as both will look to secure UEFA Europa League football. 

Team News

SC Braga

The hosts will be at full strength on Wednesday with no players currently injured or suspended. 

This is a rare footballing feat in 2023 and a massive bonus for manager Carlos Carvahal.

1. FC Union Berlin

Sheraldo Becker bagged a brace in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but a knock leaves him doubtful for this one. 

Leonardo Bonucci missed the weekend fixture with a hamstring injury and may not be ready for Wednesday. 

Danilho Doekhi is a definite absentee.

The centre-back is yet to recover from a significant knock.

Likely Line-Ups

SC Braga

Matheus; Gómez, Fonte, Niakaté, Borja; Moutinho, Zalazar; Djaló, R. Horta (c), Bruma; Banza

1. FC Union Berlin

Rønnow (c); Juranović, Knoche, Leite, Jaeckel; Král, Haberer; Volland, Laïdouni, Gosens; Behrens

Key Players

SC Braga

Bruma

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 20: Bruma of SC Braga celebrates after scoring the team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League match between SC Braga and SSC Napoli at Estadio Municipal de Braga on September 20, 2023 in Braga, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
BRAGA, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 20: Bruma of SC Braga celebrates after scoring the team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League match between SC Braga and SSC Napoli at Estadio Municipal de Braga on September 20, 2023 in Braga, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

The left winger delivered a Man of the Match performance in the reverse fixture thanks to a goal and an assist. 

He caused right-back Josip Juranovic great trouble down the left-hand side, leaving the Croatian unable to stop him. 

With five goals, he is Braga's top scorer in the Champions League this season, massively outperforming his league return of one. 

If Braga are to claim victory over their German visitors, Bruma will need to be on top form. 

1. FC Union Berlin

Paul Jaeckel

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 25: Paul Jaeckel from 1. FC <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/22/germany-bundesliga/1163806-1-fc-koln-vs-bayern-munich-bundesliga-preview-gameweek-12-2023.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/22/germany-bundesliga/1163806-1-fc-koln-vs-bayern-munich-bundesliga-preview-gameweek-12-2023.html'>Union Berlin</a></strong> tackles while Christopher Trimmel from 1. FC <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/22/germany-bundesliga/1163806-1-fc-koln-vs-bayern-munich-bundesliga-preview-gameweek-12-2023.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/22/germany-bundesliga/1163806-1-fc-koln-vs-bayern-munich-bundesliga-preview-gameweek-12-2023.html'>Union Berlin</a></strong> follows during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/15/germany-bundesliga/1163058-union-berlin-president-says-he-was-afraid-of-urs-fischers-departure-as-union-berlin-manager.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/international-football/2023/11/15/germany-bundesliga/1163058-union-berlin-president-says-he-was-afraid-of-urs-fischers-departure-as-union-berlin-manager.html'>Union Berlin</a></strong> and FC Augsburg at An der Alten Foersterei on November 25, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 25: Paul Jaeckel from 1. FC Union Berlin tackles while Christopher Trimmel from 1. FC Union Berlin follows during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Union Berlin and FC Augsburg at An der Alten Foersterei on November 25, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Inaki Esnaola/Getty Images)

Due to their poor recent form, choosing a stand-out player for Union is tough. 

However, they need to be watertight at the back if they want to claim victory on Wednesday night,

Step forward, Paul Jaeckel

The centre-back was Man of the Match against Augsburg, and Union fans will hope for a similar performance in Portugal. 

Union's style relies on building up from the back with quick passing, and Jaeckel provides that in droves. 

The German completed 67/70 passes and 8/8 long balls on Saturday, which could be essential to unlocking Braga's defence. 

What's more, with Robin Knoche and Diogo Leite next to him, they create a backline that, at their best, is hard to break down. 

Match Details

Where is the game being played?

The Wednesday evening kick-off is being played at the Estádio Municipal de Braga in Braga.

What time is kick-off?

Kick-off for this match is scheduled to be at 20:00 (GMT)

How can I watch?

The game is available on TNT Sport.

If you miss the action, you can follow all the news and views here on VAVEL UK.

 

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