With much of the futebol news in Portugal focusing on the top two teams Porto and Benfica fighting it out for domestic silverware or the ongoing soap opera at Sporting Lisbon, Sporting Braga has quietly become a model of quality in the game.

In the last decade, its rise has been very gradual and consistent. Currently in third place this season, Braga has only finished lower than 5th once. In that time they have played in the Champions League twice, the Europa/UEFA League eight times.

Their UEFA ranking has climbed from 139th in 2004-05 to as high as 28th. Few teams can claim such a dramatic improvement. In addition, they have developed an excellent reputation for discovering talent.

Brazilians Lima and Artur made their names at Braga and moved on to Benfica. They also discovered the terrific striker Éder who seems poised to become a star on the international scene.

Even more remarkable, Braga has renewed the careers of many players once written off by many people, such as Hugo Viana, Ruben Micael, Quim and Pedro Barbosa.

Managers from Sporting Lisbon’s Jesualdo Ferreira to Benfica’s Jorge Jesus found success with the club and moved on to bigger stages. While young managers like Deportivo’s Domingos Paciência, Leonardo Jardim and now José Peseiro have continued Os Arsenalistas winning tradition.

In this year’s January transfer window, they continued to be busy and like always very understated. This week, they signed promising Russian goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk to replace Portuguese international Beto who left on loan to Seville.

On attack, Braga signed Portuguese striker Rabiola from second division Desportivo das Aves. The 23-year-old has scored 20 goals in total for the club this year in all competitions. The deal lasts until 2017. Not to mention, Portuguese forward João Pedro who has shown great form with Naval 1º de Maio this year.

Braga also signed French defender Vincent Sasso from Beira-Mar to a permanent deal that will last until 2017. Sasso has played for France at the junior level.

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