FC Basel can still reach the quarter-finals, says Michael Lintorn, who is backing under 2.5 goals at Porto…
Porto v FC Basel
Live on Sky Sports 1 and 5
A hopeful domestic pursuit of Benfica – who have dropped a mere ten points all season – continued with a 1-0 victory at Sporting Braga on Friday night. It was Porto’s sixth in a row in the Primeira Liga – an unrivalled sequence – though they remain four points shy of the champions.
Their sole confirmed absentee for this fixture is a big one, with top scorer Jackson Martinez injuring his groin in Braga. That blow will be cushioned if Barcelona loanee Cristian Tello prolongs the sudden form that saw him bag all four of their goals in the recent wins over Sporting Lisbon and Braga.
The perma-Swiss champions suffered a domestic setback four days after their 1-1 first-leg draw, with frustration at failing to see out their lead on that occasion perhaps paying its part in a 4-2 flop away to Young Boys.
However, they have since put that damaging week behind them by beating Vaduz, Munsingen and Thun over the course of eight days by an emphatic 10-1 aggregate margin.
The unavailability of Ivan Ivanov and Matias Delgado is no disaster given that neither featured in the first leg, but the suspension of Marek Suchy isn’t ideal. The Czech centre back hasn’t missed a minute of their Champions League campaign to date. Helpfully, Fabian Schar is back from his ban.
Match Odds: Porto 1.511/2, FC Basel 8.415/2, The Draw 4.57/2
The statistics suggest that if FC Basel are to qualify from this tie, they will do so either on away goals or after extra time and/or penalties, because the hosts rarely disappoint their public in Europe.
Since the start of 2012/13, Porto have won ten and drawn and lost just two of 14 continental clashes at the Estadio do Dragao, winning five and drawing the other of the latest six.
By contrast, their visitors have triumphed in none of their last five journeys abroad in the competition, yet their sole overseas success in seven – disregarding qualifiers – was a rather magnificent 2-1 defeat of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
They held Liverpool at Anfield in December, and another impressive draw on their travels certainly isn’t beyond them.
Over/Under 2.5 goals
The first leg of this double header produced under 2.5 goals at odds of 1.65, yet surprisingly an even more generous mark-up of 2.01/1 has been deployed for the return, which has to be snapped up.
Ten of FC Basel’s last 12 Champions League games delivered two goals or less and there was a reasonable explanation for the two exceptions. One was a 4-0 win at home to Ludogorets when they were firm favourites, the other was a 5-1 loss when flying to face holders Real Madrid.
Each of the Swiss side’s past three matches in the tournament went under, as did four of their most recent five on the road in it. For their part, three of Porto’s last four in the competition settled on or under two goals, as did four in six in front of their fans.
We tried to pick out the scoreline for the first leg, only to miss out by a goal. Now it’s time to invest in another 1-1 being contested at the attractive price of 9.89/1.
In addition to being the outcome of the first leg, it is a result that has come up in two of Porto’s last five Champions League home encounters and two of FC Basel’s previous five away.
Porto have scored precisely one in four of their last eight Estadio do Dragao dates in this cup while conceding exactly one four times in six. There is a similar pattern for FC Basel, who have fired just one three times in five Champions League away games while giving up one four times in six.
Best Bet: Back under 2.5 goals @ 2.01/1
Other Recommended Bet: Back the 1-1 draw @ 9.89/1