Mark Temnycky –
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – Tuesday, 11 August 2020 – 20:00 GMT/21:00 CEST – Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Shakhtar Donetsk will face FC Basel in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League Quarterfinals. Unlike the Europa League’s previous seasons, which featured two-legged ties during the quarterfinals and semifinals, UEFA has opted to turn this season’s quarterfinal and semifinal into one-legged cup-like fixtures. The coronavirus pandemic has altered the latter stages of this season’s competition, and given this reformatting, the Europa League’s Quarterfinals will become much more unpredictable.
First, Shakhtar Donetsk. The Miners have fared well in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League. After being dumped out of the Champions League, Shakhtar defeated Portuguese side Benfica in the Europa League’s Round of 32 and German club Wolfsburg in the Europa League’s Round of 16. With their triumph over the Portuguese and the Germans, the Ukrainians now find themselves in the competition’s quarterfinals.
The Miners should feel confident going into this tie. Having already won the Ukrainian Premier Liha for a fourth consecutive season, Shakhtar will look to add to their silverware.
Finally, with the possible departures of Taison and Mykola Matviyenko this summer, this may be Shakhtar’s best opportunity in recent seasons to win the Europa League title. The Ukrainians shocked Europe when they won the 2008/09 UEFA Cup (now the Europa League), and Shakhtar Donetsk may be on course to do it again.
Meanwhile, Basel were unable to compete in this season’s UEFA Champions League as they were eliminated by Austrian club LASK in a Champions League’s qualification round. The result meant they were placed into the Europa League group stages. Facing the likes of Spanish team Getafe, Russian club Krasnodar, and Turkish outfit Trabzonspor, Basel won their group and progressed to the Europa League’s Round of 32.
Basel has impressed during this season’s knockout stages. The Swiss first defeated Cypriot club APOEL 4-0 on aggregate in the Europa League’s Round of 32. Basel were then paired against German team Eintracht Frankfurt during the competition’s Round of 16, where the Germans were seen as heavy favorites. The Swiss, however, shocked Europe as they earned another 4-0 victory on aggregate.
Based on these performances, Basel have demonstrated that they are capable of defeating difficult opponents. With this in mind, the Swiss will surely challenge the Ukrainians in this tie.
Overall, the restructuring of the Europa League’s Quarterfinals will make it more difficult to predict who will progress to the next stage of this year’s competition, but it will allow for greater entertainment. The fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel should be a good matchup.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – Players to Watch:
Júnior Moraes #10 – Shakhtar Donetsk
Júnior Moraes has been prolific in European competitions this season. The Brazilian striker has scored five goals in 10 matches across the Champions League group and Europa League this season. Moraes most recently scored two goals in Shakhtar’s impressive 3-0 victory over Wolfsburg during the second leg of the Europa League’s Round of 16. Given this season’s Europa League quarterfinal was reduced to one leg, the Miners will rely on their striker’s goal-scoring ability to help them advance to the competition’s semifinal.
Fabian Frei #20 – Basel
Fabian Frei has been a utility player for Basel during this season’s Europa League. The defensive midfielder scored five goals in 10 Europa League matches, all while helping lead his club’s back line. Between the goals he has scored and his defensive abilities, Frei has done well for his club. Basel will hope their veteran will replicate these previous performances as they take on Shakhtar on Tuesday.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – Match Statistics:
- Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel previously faced each other during the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. Shakhtar won both matches.
- Shakhtar Donetsk’s Ismaily is injured and will not feature in this match. Davit Khocholava is suspended.
- Basel’s Jonas Omlin, Eric Ramires, and Luca Zuffi are injured. Eray Cömert is suspended.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – 2-1
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel – Possible Lineups:
Pyatov – Dodô, Kryvtsov, Matviyenko, Bolbat – Antônio, Stepanenko – Marlos, A. Patrick, Taison – Moraes
Manager: Luís Castro
Nikolić – Widmer, Van Der Werff, Alderete, Petretta – Xhaka, Frei – Stocker, Campo, Paululu – Arthur
Manager: Marcel Koller
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky