Hearts v Braga preview

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Hearts will have to get used to life in the confines of Murrayfield on Thursday evening when they face Portuguese side Sporting Braga in the Uefa Cup.

The Jambos are keen to have an extended run in the competition after going out to French club Bordeaux last season, despite having won the away leg of the tie.

Manager Craig Levein sees his side enter Thursday's first round, first leg contest buoyed by a positive goalless draw with Old Firm giants Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.

Braga, meanwhile, took a similar result over the weekend with UEFA Champions League holders Porto and will be keen to make the Edinburgh club's debut in Scotland's national rugby union stadium a disappointing experience.

Levein is already facing a selection headache before their clash with Braga, with striker Graham Weir currently ruled out with the mumps.

With Spanish striker Ramon Pereira and Canadian international Kevin McKenna both sidelined through injury, the Tynecastle boss may turn to former Inverness Caledonian Thistle hit-man Dennis Wyness or defender Alan Maybury to partner Mark de Vries in attack.

Despite the problems, Levein has taken a close look at Braga's opening two matches in the Portuguese SuperLiga with Academica and Porto and knows his side face a stern test.

"Braga are technically a good side," Levein told the Daily Record. "It's a different game in Portugal altogether, it's very technical compared to our style of football where we get the ball forward and try and put pressure on the opposition's defence.

"It's a contrast and that is what is so good about the European competitions, playing against teams of different styles.

"After playing in Europe last season we understand a little bit more about what is required to get through to the group stage."

Braga boss Jesualdo Ferreira, meanwhile, believes his side's skill can overcome Hearts' aggressive style of play.

The former Benfica manager thinks the tie will be won in midfield and that Braga have the technique to defeat their Scottish adversaries.

"Hearts play with a lot of aggression which is typical of Scottish football," said Ferreira.

"I don't know if they can play with any more aggression.

"They play with steel but we have the technique to win this tie although Hearts could win over in Portugal, as they showed by beating Bordeaux last season. We just don't know.

"Hearts are strong defensively, but the match will be won or lost in midfield."

Hearts 6/5 Draw 9/4 Sp. Braga 7/4 -
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