The Champions League is going to be swerving with excellent teams and for Basel to advance to the quarterfinals, it would be a huge achievement. They still have a long way to go and the first challenge is to defeat a former champion, as Porto comes to town. The Portuguese start with the first chance and they are fully aware of their status, so they won’t defend in Switzerland. They’ve got the offensive to exercise constant pressure, but recent results have been inconclusive and the defensive betrayed them.
Basel has already produced a major upset by causing the elimination of Liverpool at the end of a highly contested game at Anfield Road. Back then, they only had to defend the scoreless draw and then returned in the game after Gerrard scored for the host, to deny them the chance to play another final. It was a memorable results and in conjunction with those points collected in front of their fans, propel the Swiss side to the knockout stage.
Overall, they were impressive on many levels when they had home pitch advantage and it is something that they are counting on ahead of this fixture. It won’t be easy to take the initiative against Porto, because the Portuguese side is used to play offensive football and rarely encounters opposition. On the other hand, when opponents fight back, they sometimes lose focus and this happened over the last two months, when they allowed plenty of goals in the domestic championship.
Not surprisingly, they are already trailing Benfica who is leading the division and with six points behind them, Porto is fighting an uphill battle. Nothing is lost and there are enough rounds left but knowing how unbalanced the Portuguese championship is, the runners-up don’t feel too well. Martinez is the player that can single-handedly defeat lesser teams with the striker scoring a massive 14 goals in just 18 goals.
The visiting team will probably use a single striker in the first half, while Aboubakar is the obvious replacement for the remaining 45 minutes. He will probably join the striker regardless of the result at half time, so Basel needs to come out firing on all cylinders. Taking the initiative on be easy, but as long as they succeed at resisting the urge of defending with all lines, the Swiss team has a good chance to win.
The first instinct would be to bet on the more experienced team and credit the Portuguese side with a victory on the road. The odds are not that bad, but given past performance and Basel’s recent results it makes more sense to do the exact opposite. Place a wager on the home side not to lose and you will enjoy odds of 1.65, something that is quite impressive for a Champions League game at this stage.