Scouting report: Rangers face 'unique' Europa League opponent in Sporting Braga

Ruben Amorim has led Braga to wins over Benfica, Porto and Sporting in his nine games in charge
Ruben Amorim has led Braga to wins over Benfica, Porto and Sporting in his nine games in charge
Europa League last 32 first leg: Rangers v Sporting Braga
Venue: Ibrox Stadium Date: Thursday, 20 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online and the BBC Sport website & app

Rangers will host a team with "a unique type of play" when they welcome Sporting Braga in the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, says Pedro Mendes.

The Portuguese side won their group ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers, but have since sacked coach Ricardo Sa Pinto and replaced him with Ruben Amorim.

They are unbeaten in nine games under him, and have beaten Portugal's big three - Benfica, Porto, home and away, and Sporting - while climbing to third in the division.

Victory over league leaders Benfica was the club's first win at Estadio da Luz in 65 years and former Ibrox and Portugal midfielder Mendes says "they are flying at the moment".

"They're a team full of confidence, playing great stuff so a very strong team," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"They've a unique type of play. They play in a 3-4-3 offensive and when they go defensive 5-4-1. The full-backs are really attacking and without the ball tuck in.

"The players up front - Paulinho, Ricardo Horta, Galeno, Wilson Eduardo - are very technical, very quick, and will create a lot of problems.

"Braga is getting closer [to Porto, Benfica and Sporting]. If you look at the way they play and the performance and quality of the game, Braga and Porto are similar at the moment."

Who are the ones to watch?

Ricardo Horta scores
Ricardo Horta (far right) scored Braga's winner against Wolves in September

Ricardo Horta: Aged 25, he operates in wide areas and has contributed 11 goals so far this term, including the winning goal against Wolves at Molineux. He initially joined Braga on loan from Malaga and formalised the move in 2017. His brother, Andre, also plays for Braga.

Paulinho: The 27-year-old has 15 goals so far this season, including six in Europe. He netted in the 3-3 draw with Wolves that rounded off Group K and scored a valuable double in the 3-1 defeat of Besiktas.

Galeno: The Brazilian is a less frequent scorer but has featured more than Wilson Eduardo this season. The 22-year-old has played in Portugal since making the move from his homeland during the 2016-17 season and has featured for Porto and Rio Ave. He scored against Slovan Bratislava in the group stage.

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