Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
Looking to complete the job and punch their spot in the final of this season’s Conference League, Basel will welcome Fiorentina to St. Jakob-Park on Thursday night.
Starting with the hosts, while Basel might have traveled out to Italy tipped as a real underdog pick last week, Heiko Vogel’s side sprung what was a stunning Conference League upset. Eventually snatching a first-leg 2-1 victory, the Bebbi now find themselves sat in pole position to clinch what would be a famous European final ticket on Thursday night. However, despite making a string of changes last weekend, the former Strum Graz boss saw his side come somewhat crashing back down to earth. Suffering what was a woeful 6-1 drumming away at St. Gallen, it is fair to say that Basel have struggled with their consistency since returning from March’s international break. Aside from that remarkable 2-1 victory away at the Stadio Artemio Franchi last week, Vogel’s men have won just a pair of their other 10 appearances across all competitions.
Dealing with a long-term thigh injury and not making a single appearance since the start of January 23-year-old Arnau Comas will once again miss out on Thursday night.
All handed a rest over the weekend, Vogel’s men will welcome back the likes of Taulant Xhaka, Kasim Adams, Wouter Burger and Jean-Kevin Augustin for their crucial second-leg showdown. Bagging that stunning last-gasp winner in Tuscany and with five goals since returning from March’s international break, Zeki Amdouni will once again lead Basel’s attack.
As for the visitors, suffering that remarkable first-leg collapse at the Stadio Artemio Franchi last week, Fiorentina know that are facing a real uphill struggle when they travel out to Switzerland on Thursday night. Although Vincenzo Italiano’s side might have opened their semi-final adventure tipped as a standout contender to get their hands on a first piece of silverware since 2001, the Viola have shown their own extended issues over recent times. Despite claiming what was a welcomed boost last weekend as they clinched a 2-0 victory at home against Udinese, that is just the second win that Fiorentina have collected from their last nine appearances across all competitions. With that run stemming all the way back to April 13th, the Italian outfit have also shown some worrying struggles on the road. Including an action-packed 3-2 defeat at the hands of Monza last month, the Purples have collected just one point from their previous three Serie A showdowns outside of Tuscany.
In what could be a real boost for Fiorentina on Thursday night, defensive talisman Nikola Milenkovic will make his return in Switzerland after serving a one-match suspension last week. With eight European strikes this season, Arthur Cabral will once again spearhead Italiano’s side here.
Suffering an Achilles injury earlier in the year and not making a single appearance since returning from March’s international break, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu will miss the remainder of the campaign. Likewise, the Viola are also sweating over the fitness of 23-year-old Riccardo Sottil.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two sides met for their first-leg showdown at the Stadio Artemio Franchi last week, Basel claimed a stunning 2-1 victory.
- However, the Bebbi have failed to win any of their last five appearances at St. Jakob-Park.
- Including that 2-1 first-leg defeat on home soil last week, Fiorentina have won just a pair of their last nine contests across all competitions.
- Likewise, Thursday’s guests have also collected just a single point from any of their last three appearances outside of Tuscany.
- All three of the European meetings between Basel and Fiorentina have finished with both teams finding the net.
Suffering that remarkable 2-1 loss at the Stadio Artemio Franchi last week, Fiorentina will know that they must go about things the hard way when they travel to Switzerland on Thursday night. Although the Purples might have claimed a welcomed boost at home against Udinese a few days ago, the midweek guests have struggled to find any kind of stability since returning from March’s international break. Likewise, although Basel might have clinched that famous semi-final win away in Italy last week, the Bebbi have shown their own extended issues. Crashing back down to earth over the weekend as they slumped to a 6-1 drumming at the hands of St. Gallen, neutrals could be treated to another enjoyable affair here.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
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