Shakhtar Donetsk vs FC Basel | Tuesday 11th August 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
The Europa League burst back onto the scene last week with a mixed bag schedule including both second leg ties and just one-off matches. The Veltins Arena, the home of Schalke 04, is the destination for Tuesday night when Shakhtar Donetsk faces Basel for a place in the semi-finals.
Both clubs would advance in their quarter-finals with relative ease if the aggregate scores are anything to go by. Shakhtar despatched Wolfsburg 5-1 over two legs, although their 3-0 second leg triumph last Thursday saw all goals come in the 89th minute or beyond, and they also had 10 men at the time.
Basel did a professional job in beating Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 in Switzerland having done the hard work in Germany when winning leg one 3-0 all the way back in March.
Whilst some may point towards a possible match fitness edge to Basel here, that may not necessarily be the case. Whilst Shakhtar ended their domestic season on 19th July; a campaign which saw them secure a 13th Ukrainian Premier League title, the fact that they ended the first leg with 10 men from the 68th minute and finished so well can only be viewed as a positive.
Basel only just finished their season a few days before the Frankfurt clash last week, and their domestic duties aren’t officially over yet anyway as they’ve got a Swiss Cup tie soon to come. Motivation is high, but so are fitness levels in both camps. A semi-final spot is up for grabs and is not to be sniffed at.
Germany is essentially being used as a hub for these UEFA Europa League matches from now on and I do think we can pick some clues for when we look to the two quarter-finals ties also played in this country. Sevilla versus Roma and Inter against Getafe were also played here, and both were very entertaining affairs regardless of what the two 2-0 scorelines may suggest.
Those two games produced 47 shots on goal, and an average of 23.5 shots on goal is very, very high. They were ultimately end-to-end contests, which surprised me as I expected them to be much cagier. I think that will set the tone for the remainder of the competition and we can look forward to some entertainment in both boxes.
Even so, that is generally the case when both Shakhtar and Basel are involved anyway. These are two offensively-minded teams that only have one interest, which is to create chances and score goals.
Shakhtar dominate their league, as expected, but they ended the campaign keeping only three clean sheets in 13. Keeping out Wolfsburg was also their first European clean sheet, too, which included both UEL and also the Champions League.
Basel have actually kept five UEL clean sheets in succession, which is incredible considering that included two legs against Frankfurt and also to a then free-scoring Trabzonspor side. They also had back-to-back clean sheets to end the league campaign, and if they can be just secure at the back next season then they can maybe finally try to regain the number one crown in Switzerland from Young Boys again.
That being said, Basel have still had to ride their luck, and they face a Shakhtar side which is relentless and the front three of Taison, Marlos and Moraes is a step above anything they’ve come across thus far.
I expect goals in an exciting contest played on neutral soil, with narrow preference for the Ukrainians. Skakhtar Donetsk to Win and Both Teams To Score is a nice 3/1 (Bet365) shot which should have some legs. Both teams appear pretty suited to playing on the European stage, but the Donetsk front three will sway this tie.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – Shakhtar Donetsk To Win and Both Teams To Score (3/1 Bet365)