Basel and Porto will both be looking to get the upper-hand in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie at the St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday.
Despite being in a group with teams which involved 10 time winners Real Madrid and five time winners Liverpool the Swiss side managed to finish second in Group B and reached the last 16 for the second time in their history. Basel are in a rich vein of form at the moment who are undefeated in the last nine games in all competitions. This is the first time that these two sides have met competitively and Basel will be looking to get some home advantage before they face a tough trip to Portugal in March.
It will be a stern test against a Porto who are also in a run of good form winning 10 in the last 10 games. The Portuguese outfit cruised into this stage of the competition remaining undefeated in group H claiming four wins and two draws and were one of three teams that remained undefeated throughout the group stage with the other two being Chelsea and Madrid.
The hosts will be without Fabian Schar after he picked up his third booking in the last Champions League encounter with Liverpool with either veteran Walter Samuel or Behrang Safari will be brought in to replace the young defender. Both Ivan Ivanov and Adama Traore are also expected to be out, striker Shkelzen Gashi is expected to start and will be the host’s best chance of getting something from this game with 13 goals to his name so far this season.
There is no real injury concerns for Julen Lopetegui but the Spaniard will have to keep an eye on the defensive pairing of Maicon and Marcano who are both a booking away from suspension. Yacine Brahami has found his shooting boots after his return from AFCON duty scoring in Porto’s previous league game, aswell as Brahami the Basel defence is expected to be on their toes with star striker Jackson Martinez almost certain to start with the Columbian scoring 21 goals in 26 games this campaign.
Written by Danial Kennedy [@danialkennedy95]