Porto have slight edge over Basel
AFTER clinching a 1-1 draw in Switzerland in the first leg, FC Porto is a strong favorite to secure a Champions League quarterfinal berth when it hosts Basel in Tuesday’s return match.
The Portuguese club is a two-time European champion. The last time Basel made it to the tournament quarterfinals was four decades ago.
Here are some other things to know about the last-16 game in northern Portugal.
Porto has won its last six Portuguese league games without conceding a goal — its best run since the 2010-11 season.
In the Champions League group stage, Porto was one of three clubs, with Real Madrid and Chelsea, to complete the first phase unbeaten.
Domestic champion in seven of the last 10 seasons, Porto currently lies second in the Portuguese league after an erratic start while new coach Julen Lopetegui found his feet, but it is now looking slick.
The Spaniard is in his first spell in charge of a club, and in his first Champions League campaign, after a career coaching Spanish youth teams.
Porto suffered a big setback when Jackson Martinez sustained a thigh strain in their 1-0 win last weekend against Braga. He is expected to be out for several weeks.
The Colombian striker was on course to be the top league goal scorer for a third successive season as he currently tops the charts with 17 goals in 24 rounds
“His absence is a loss because of his energy, his character and the example he sets for everyone,” Lopetegui said.
Cameroun striker, Vincent Aboubakar, is expected to step into the gap. Central defender, Maicon, is also in doubt, but midfielder Oliver Torres is back in training after a shoulder injury.
Porto has a strong record against Swiss opponents, having lost just once in seven games. Basel has scored in only four of their games against Portuguese teams and has never won in Portugal.
Basel coach Paulo Sousa has a trump card: as a former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon player and having made 51 appearances for the Portugal national team, he knows Portuguese soccer well.
He has matured into an artful coach at Basel, which leads the Swiss championship and got into the Champions League knockout round with an auspicious 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
The Swiss team is benefiting from the form of striker Shkelzen Gashi, who took his season’s tally to 16 league goals in a 3-0 win against FC Thun 3-0 at the weekend.
Defender Fabian Schar is back for Basel after a one-match ban.
•Culled from AP.
No comments yet