Shakhtar Donetsk v Basel might not seem like a glamorous Europa League quarter-final, but Kevin Hatchard believes there'll be plenty of entertainment.
"Basel have shown they can defend diligently, but Shakhtar can hurt teams in so many different ways."
Shakhtar Donetsk v Basel
Tuesday 11 August, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Swashbuckling Shakhtar deserve respect
One of the most exciting and heart-warming stories of this European season has been Atalanta's extraordinary run in the Champions League, and the key moment of their group stage campaign was their 3-0 victory in a must-win game at Shakhtar Donetsk. Where there are heroes there must always be villains, and the perennial Ukrainian champions saw their UCL hopes blown away in one half of football.
To their credit, Shakhtar have risen from the canvas, and produced some stirring football in the Europa League. They overcame Benfica thanks to a superb second-half comeback in Lisbon, and although they had to wait for their second-leg goals against a strong Wolfsburg side, they were far and away the better team over the two legs.
There is so much technical quality and experience in this Shakhtar side. Marlos and Taison provide ingenuity and thrust in a 4-3-2-1 formation, and prolific scorer Junior Moraes often profits from their handiwork. Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov can be a bit erratic but he is vastly experienced, and Taras Stepanenko sweeps up in midfield. Shakhtar have rattled in 18 goals in their ten European matches this term.
Georgian centre-back Davit Khocholava is suspended after picking up a red card against Wolfsburg, but there are no other key absences.
Basel have sent reminder of their quality
Given that Young Boys of Berne have not only taken the Swiss Super League crown from Basel but have also kept it from them, it's clear there has been a power shift in Switzerland. However, while they have failed to find consistency in the SSL, Basel have saved some of their best displays for the Europa League.
Beating Eintracht Frankfurt home and away takes some doing, and Basel also beat a very good Getafe side twice in the group stage. For a team that conceded goals regularly in domestic football, Basel have been more miserly in Europe, leaking just four goals in ten UEL matches.
There is experience and aggression in midfield with Taulant Xhaka and Fabian Frei, Valentin Stocker adds a dash of grace, and 22-year-old striker Arthur Cabral is the threat in attack.
Shakhtar rightful favourites
There's been a fair bit of money for Shakhtar to win, and even at odds of 1.9520/21 I think they are worth backing. They can hurt teams in so many ways, they have lots of European experience as a unit, and Luis Castro has shown himself to be an astute coach.
Basel can't and shouldn't be casually dismissed, but I do believe that even their solid defence won't be able to contain Shakhtar's fizzing attack.
I'll back Shakhtar to win inside 90 minutes at 1.9520/21. Given that they are a chunky 16.015/1 to win the tournament, I think they are an enticing back-to-lay at this stage.
Both defences to be breached
Although Basel have kept five straight clean sheets in this competition, I think Shakhtar will find a way through them, so the question when considering a BTTS bet is whether Basel will score.
Shakhtar have kept just one clean sheet in their last 27 UEFA matches, and seven of their ten games across the Champions League and Europa League this term have seen both teams find the net.
Both Teams To Score can be backed at 1.824/5.
Junior to make his mark
Junior Moraes can on occasion look a touch clumsy in front of goal, but he is one of those strikers who is always getting into good positions, and you can't argue with his numbers. He bashed in 20 league goals this season and 19 last term, and he has scored five times in Europe this term.
I think Junior Moraes is overpriced in the To Score market at 13/10, and given that the clever Marlos scored 13 league goals and hit the post against Wolfsburg, he's worth considering at 2/1.
Back Shakhtar to win at 1.9520/21
Back Junior Moraes to score at 13/10 on the Sportsbook
Back-to-lay Shakhtar Donetsk to win the Europa League at 16.015/1