Thursday, August 16, 2018

Prediction: FC Basel vs PAOK

Verdict: Draw No Bet – PAOK

Best Odds: 37/19

Bookmaker: 888sport

Greek Super League side PAOK are taking a slender 2-1 advantage to Switzerland hoping to seal progression into the Champions League third qualifying round against FC Basel.

FC Basel

The Swiss powerhouse FC Basel are going through a rough patch at the moment which has the club dealing with a worrying lack of form and a long list of injured players.

Having lost five of their last six outings, FC Basel will be hoping a goal in Greece would be a strong straw to hold on at St. Jacob-Park. Swiss Super League runners-up are a far cry from their last season’s selves and will have to dig in deep in order to turn the tie around and get one step closer to grabbing what would be their eighth Champions League participation in the last 10 years. FC Basel entered the group stages of Europe’s elite competition last season and went on to make it to the round of 16 when they were eliminated by Manchester City. It eventually ended up being a disappointing season for the Swiss super force as FC Basel failed to lift the domestic title which put them in the early stages of the qualifying process this year.

Team News

Serbian midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic is suffering from a leg injury and will be unavailable for the return leg in Switzerland.

Goalkeeper Antonio Signori and defender Taulant Xhaka are another two players ruled out of the rematch against the Greek side.

PAOK

Greek Cup winners PAOK travel to Switzerland in high spirits determined to wrap things up against FC Basel and get a huge step forward in pursuit of their first-ever Champions League group stage participation. PAOK were knocked out in the Europa League play-off round last season by Swedish outfit Ostersunds FK and will be eager to turn their fortunes around this time out.

PAOK have had a busy summer in the transfer market by bringing in the likes of Brazilian winger Leo Jaba and Dynamo Kiev defender Yevhen Khachieridi. The former was given a starting spot in the first leg as he went on to leave a solid impression for 72 minutes on the pitch. Greek powerhouse PAOK were in full control of the first match and held on to a 2-0 lead until the last 10 minutes when Swiss side snatched a precious away goal. The visitors will definitely hope their first-choice striker Aleksandar Prijovic will extend his formidable form after scoring a goal in the first leg as well. The Serbia international is coming off from a prolific season which saw him score 19 goals in 28 Super League matches.

Team News

This summer’s arrival Leo Jaba is expected to be given another starting berth ahead of El Kaddouri, whereas Aleksandar Prijovic will lead the attack.

Razvan Lucesku has got a full crop of players to choose from as PAOK have no injury concerns whatsoever ahead of the crucial return leg.

Key Factors to Consider

  • FC Basel played group stage of the Champions League 7 times in last 10 years
  • PAOK have yet to book their place in the group stage of Europe’s elite competition
  • FC Basel reached the Round of 16 last season in the Champions League
  • Aleksandar Prijovic scored the total of 27 goals for PAOK last season
  • These two sides have never met before in a competitive match

Conclusion

FC Basel might be a more experienced side when it comes to the Champions League but their lack of form is a major concern this season. With new Swiss Super League already underway, FC Basel have yet to record a victory – having lost the opening match against St. Gallen at home 2-1 before drawing 1-1 at Xamax.  PAOK, on the other side, are hugely motivated to hold on to the first-match lead and will be expected not to lose this game.

Verdict: Draw No Bet – PAOK

Best Odds: 37/19

Bookmaker: 888sport

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