Shakhtar's domination to continue?
Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk face off against FC Basel of Switzerland in a direct qualifier in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Both teams have performed admirably and have impressive resumés regarding both the Europa League and Champions League in recent years making this an interesting clash.
The Ukrainians finished 3rd in their Champions League consisting of Manchester City, Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb, in other words, a very tough group. The 3rd place did however mean that they went straight through to the Europa League's round of 32 where they first saw off Benfica followed by Wolfsburg.
Incredibly impressive stats
Not only have they been continually seeing off heavyweights of the game in the European competitions on a yearly basis, they have been absolutely dominating the domestic Ukrainian league as well. Portuguese coach Luís Castro's men have won the past 3 editions in style and this year was no different with Shakhtar finishing a whopping 23 points ahead of main rivals Dynamo Kyiv whilst accruing the goal difference of 80-26(!) in the process.
Other positive aspects for the Ukrainian's include the fact that they have won 8 out of 10 of their competitive games since the continuation of play scoring 24 goals in said 10 games and that they have only played 1 game since the 19th of July (their 3-0 victory over Wolfsburg) meaning they will be well-rested and fresh for Tuesday's showdown in Germany.
The Swiss side's season ended on the 3rd of August with a disappointing 3rd place behind Young Boys and St. Gallen further frustrating their fan base who last saw their team win the league back in the 16/17 season.
Basel ended their domestic season with the stats of 18 wins, 8 draws and a worryingly many 10 defeats whilst scoring 74 goals and conceding 38(!) on the way which is just not good enough for a team of their stature.
A positive note is however that coach Marcel Koller's men are unbeaten in their last 8 games across both domestic and European play and most recently saw off Eintracht Frankfurt in confident fashion with 4-0 over 2 legs showing that they could overcome the fatigue of playing 6 games in 2 weeks which has been the achilles heel of a lot of teams since the return to play.
They have now had 5 days of rest which might not be optimal but is more than they are accustomed to when they travel to neighbouring Germany in an attempt to overcome their biggest challenge of the season. Thus far at least.
With their magnificent form and dominance over the course of the season it is hard to overlook Shakhtar which is why i will be backing a Shakhtar Donetsk win at 1.87 with Betway.