Saturday, October 31, 2020

Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel

Verdict: Shakhtar win

Best odds: 17/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel are set to face each other in the quarterfinals of the 2019/20 Europa League campaign. As this game is a one-off with no rematch to take place, it will be played at a neutral venue, for which Schalke’s Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, has been chosen.

The winner of this contest will go on to face either Inter Milan or Bayer Leverkusen in the semifinals.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar were crowned Ukrainian champions this season, having finished top of the table both in the regular part of the national top flight and the championship play-offs. On the whole, they played a total of 32 matches and won 26, drawing four and losing just twice, racking up a total of 82 points, 23 more than second-place Dinamo Kiev, to win the title for the fourth consecutive time.

In Europe, they took part in the group stages of the Champions League, and having finished third in group C, behind Manchester City and Atalanta, they were transferred into the round of 32 of the Europa League. To get where they are now, they edged past Benfica first, and then they thrashed Wolfsburg, both over two legs.

Shakhtar’s form over the last six matches in all competitions stands at three wins, two draws and one defeat.

Team News

Head coach Luis Castro won’t be able to rely on defender Davit Khocholava, who was sent off against Wolfsburg and is now suspended. Serhii Bolbat is likely to take that place in what should presumably be an otherwise unchanged starting line-up for the Ukranian side from that second leg, played on August 5th.

Basel

Basel, on the other hand, finished third in the Swiss Super League, with a 14-point deficit towards the title winners Young Boys, and six behind St. Gallen in second place. They earned their tally of 62 by winning half of their 36 top-flight matches, drawing eight and losing 10. Unless they win the competition this time, they will start in the Europa League qualifiers next season.

Like Shakhtar, Basel also played in group C, but they were in the Europa League from the start. They finished top of the table, ahead of Getafe, Krasnodar and Trabzonspor.

Basel have been undefeated in their last six matches in all competitions, but they only managed to win two of them, drawing the other four.

Team News

Boss Marcel Koller will be without the services of defender Eray Comert who is suspended, along with those of goalkeeper Jonas Omlin, and midfielders Eric Ramires and Luca Zuffi.

Conclusion

There’s always room for surprises in this stage of a knockout competition, especially when everything is being settled in one match. Quite apart from that, these particular opponents don’t seem to be too far apart from each other in terms of quality, which only adds to the difficulty of guessing the outcome.

However, when all things are considered – the performances shown throughout the season, the names of the players in their respective squads, and the strength of their national leagues, a narrow Shakhtar win seems the most realistic way for this puzzle to be unraveled.

Verdict: Shakhtar win

Best odds: 17/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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