WITH the score locked at 1-1 after the first leg in Switzerland, who’s Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) backing to reach the Champions League quarter-finals?
FC Porto v FC Basel | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
Porto-Basel might not get the blockbuster build-up that ITV devotes to Real Madrid-Schalke but the Last 16 tie is certainly looking a lot more in the balance. However, those who saw the first leg in Switzerland will testify, Porto should prove a cut above on Tuesday night.
The Portuguese side dominated in St. Jakob-Park, outshooting their hosts 15-1 and had two goals wiped out. Now the Dragons are back in their fearsome lair, it’s hard to see the plucky Swiss visitors progressing to their first quarter-final contest in this competition since 1974.
Porto themselves haven’t made it past the Last 16 since 2009 but are one of three sides left in the competition unbeaten and have suffered just one reverse in 15 continental clashes. The two-time European champions are unbeaten in eight (W5-D3) European matches and arrive at this game with an impressive W7-D1-L0 record from their most recent eight.
Julen Lopetegui’s side have lost just twice at Estadio do Dragao this season with their last five outings in front of their home supporters all ending in victories with an aggregate score of 16-0. The hosts are goal machines too, scoring an average of 2.5 goals-per-game in their domestic league and their slick brand of football should prove too good.
True, skipper and star striker Jackson Martinez is out but with Cristian Tello and Yacine Brahimi providing the ammo and Basel keeping just one clean sheet in 22 away Champions League ties, the task the visitors face is a mountainous one.
Sure, Basel scored at both Real Madrid and Liverpool in the group phase but they took just one point from their road games and haven’t won away in the competition for 18 months. Goalkeeper Tomás Vaclik has made more saves than any other goalkeeper and although the Swiss side are seven points clear of the pack back home, this is a big step up in class.
Head coach Paulo Sousa would love to get one over his countrymen and has sounded bullish in the pre-match build-up but I can’t erase the memory of the first leg. Normally so effective on home soil, FCB were bullied and outplayed. And now they must chase the game to keep their continental dreams alive.
It’s not an easy game to find value in but I’ll take Porto at 7/10 off a -1 Asian Handicap start to begin with. Should the hosts only win by a solitary goal we’ll get our cash back; anything bigger and we’ll have made money.
And I also want to have a nibble on the 13/5 Wincast for Tello to score in a Porto win. The rapid forward plays on the right of the Dragons’ front three and grabbed a hat-trick in a recent 3-0 win over Sporting Lisbon. The on-loan Barcelona man has flourished in Portugal and should play a more prominent role with Martinez not involved.
FC Porto v FC Basel – FC Porto -1 Asian Handicap (7/10 BetVictor)
FC Porto v FC Basel – Cristian Tello to score and FC Porto win (13/5 Paddy Power)
Do you have a view on this match-up? Have you found a bet that Mark’s not mentioned?
We’d love to hear your views so let us know in the comments box below.