Braga have been known as Arsenal do Minho and changed their kits from green and white to their Arsenal-style red during the 1945–46 (with the reserve squad) and the 1946–47 (with the main team) seasons due to their president José Antunes Guimarães who had business connections in London and was an Arsenal fan (this is one version of the story: the other one says that Josef Szabo, a Hungarian coach who loved Arsenal's playing style asked the president to change the green and white uniform to an Arsenal-style red). In that year (1947) they won the Second division title reaching the First division for the first time. Braga even renamed their youth team Arsenal de Braga.
One of the first matches played in Arsenal-style kits against R C Celta Vigo
The emblem of Sporting de Braga is the city of Braga's shield with Mother Mary and baby Jesus with the blue from the city's shield changed to red. On the top of the emblem is the golden Mural Crown of Braga, with the name Sporting Clube de Braga on it. Many fans of Braga have said that Mother Mary gives them luck. The fans of Braga are known as Arsenalistas due to their team home kit that resembles that of English club Arsenal. They are also known as Bracarenses because of being from the city of Bracari, later named Bracara Augusta, city of Portugal that is now known as Braga.
Aside from the loyalty of its supporters, the Minho derby against Vitória de Guimarães is a match that both sets of fans eagerly await. This match is more than football, it is a way people from the north view each city. The derby is one of Portugal's most intense matches, and children under 13 are restricted from entering unless an adult is with them. The rivalry goes back to when the City of Braga was the ancient capital of Gallaecia and the largest Portuguese city by the time the Kingdom of Portugal was formed by Afonso I of Portugal. At that time, Guimarães became the seat of the King and nobility, whereas Braga remained the centre of trade and religious power (largest city and seat of the Archbishop).
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Braga began to climb up the league ladder and eventually participated in the UEFA Competitions. Braga's recent run of successive European participations began in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, after finishing fifth under Jesualdo Ferreira's first full season in the club. This marked the beginning of their rise in success both in the League and Europe. In the 2005–06, they challenged for the championship until the penultimate round, ending fourth. In 2006–07, Portuguese up-and-coming manager Carlos Carvalhal became manager of the club and started with a poor start to the season, losing to AZ in the UEFA Cup despite crushing Czech Republic champions Slovan Liberec 4–0 (who had drawn against Sevilla only a week before), and a 4–1 loss to Madeiran side Marítimo. These losses proved to be the end of his season, despite success in European competitions, with an overall score of 3–2 against Italian club Chievo in the first round of the UEFA Cup. Carvalhal resigned and was replaced with Rogério Gonçalves with former Portugal captain Jorge Costa as assistant manager of the club. Gonçalves' first game in charge couldn't have gone better with a 3–1 over Benfica and a week after a hard-fought loss against UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup champions Sevilla in the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. After a 1–0 away defeat to União de Leiria in a league match on 18 February 2007, Gonçalves resigned. Braga president António Salvador announced on the same day that assistant manager Jorge Costa would be in charge until the end of the 2006–07 season. In his first game, Braga beat Parma 1–0 (2–0 on aggregate). They then played Tottenham Hotspur, where they lost 6–4 on aggregate in the last 16. Braga eventually finished fourth in the league for the third successive time, just beating Belenenses by a point on the last day.
During the summer of June 2007, it was presented that AXA would be the club's sponsors in a multi-million dollar deal in which the name of the stadium was changed to Estádio AXA, with this being the first in Portugal.
After the 2006–07 season, Braga qualified for the UEFA Cup, where they faced Hammarby IF. Despite losing the first leg in Sweden 2–1, Braga won at home 4–0 to qualify to the group stage for the third consecutive time. There, their first game was against Bolton Wanderers where the game finished 1–1. Braga then played German giants Bayern Munich, who were the favourites to win the competition; despite the negative feedback, Braga drew 1–1 with Roland Linz scoring the vital goal. After that impressive display, Braga faced Aris with another 1–1 draw, with Linz scoring another vital goal for the Minhotos. Braga then went into the last game against Red Star Belgrade of Serbia where they picked up a 2–0 victory, which was enough to take them into the next round. They went on to face Werder Bremen but lost the first leg 3–0, which Braga missed two penalty's, and the second 1–0.
After qualifying for the UEFA Cup group stage proper for a third successive season, the Portuguese side were paired with FA Cup winners Portsmouth, Italian giants Milan, Wolfsburg of Germany, and Heerenveen of the Netherlands. Braga started the game at home to Portsmouth and were convincing 3–0 winners with Luis Aguiar scoring from a freekick and setting up the other two goals. This game proved to be Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp's last game as he then moved to Tottenham Hotspur. In the next group game, Braga faced a daunting task at the San Siro against the competition favourites Milan. The game finished in a 1–0 defeat for the Portuguese side. Despite the loss, Braga dominated the game for many long periods of time, holding the Italians to 0–0 after 93 minutes, but an individual goal from Ronaldinho from 35 metres out gave the Italians the full three points. The next game was against Felix Magath's Wolfsburg where Braga lost 3–2, despite scoring the first two goals. The last game was at the Abe Lenstra Stadion in the Netherlands against Heerenveen. Braga won the game 2–1 and progressed to the next stage. After getting further in the UEFA Cup than any of their ten fellow winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup, Braga were declared the last outright champions of the competition.
In the 2010–11 season, Braga made their UEFA Champions League debut at home in a 3–0 win against Celtic in the first leg of the third qualifying round. They lost the second leg away at Celtic Park 2–1, but went through to the play-off round on an aggregate score of 4–2. In the fourth qualifying round, they beat Sevilla 1–0 at home and 4–3 away, thus entering the Champions League group stage for the first time. On 15 September 2010, Braga were heavily defeated 6–0 by Arsenal in their first group stage. On 28 September, Braga lost 3–0 against Shakhtar. On 19 October, Braga won 2–0 against Partizan. Two weeks later, on 3 November, Braga won 1–0 against Partizan in Belgrade. On 23 November, Braga beat Arsenal 2–0 at home, keeping their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive if they could better Arsenal's result during the final round of matches. However, on 9 December, Braga lost 2–0 to Shakhtar while Arsenal beat Partizan 3–1. The results meant that Shakhtar and Arsenal progressed to the second round, but Braga finished third in the group to qualify for the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League, where they would come to eliminate Lech Poznań, Liverpool and Dynamo Kyiv to reach the semifinals of the competition. It was the first time Braga reached the quarter-finals, and then the semi-finals of a European competition. It was also the first time three Portuguese clubs reached the Europa League's semi-finals simultaneously. On 28 April, Braga lost 2–1 against Benfica in the first leg of the semi-finals. On 5 May, Braga went on to win the tie in the second leg with a 1–0 home win to reach the Europa League Final 2011. On 18 May, Braga lost the final 1–0 to Porto.
In the 2012–13 season, Braga played for the second time in the group stage of the Champions League, after eliminating Udinese in the play-off round, by beating them in the penalties, after the first and second legs ended in 1–1. Braga lost the first game of the group stage of the Champions League to Cluj in home by 2–0 and won the second game by beating Galatasaray in Turkey by 2–0. In their third game, Braga visited Old Trafford where they were defeated by Manchester United, despite being winning by 0–2, Braga went down by 3–2. On the fourth matchday, Braga went on to receive Manchester United, but, after keeping a one goal advantage until the 80th minute, they eventually conceded three goals, and lost 1–3. During their domestic season, they finished in 4th place, behind Paços de Ferreira, which got their Champions League vacancy.