(Translation: Thomas Snaith)
After FCB´s 3-0 win in Cyprus, FC Basel 1893 have increased their chances of qualifying for the next round. FCB will face APOEL FC with a big advantage on their side.
Basel need to be alert as the Cypriots could come to Basel and walk away with 3 points, as Basel did a week ago in Cyprus. During a pre-match press conference, head coach Koller stressed the importance of being fully concentrated on Thursday night.
It has happened in the past that FCB gave away a solid lead in a return leg fixture. Back in April 2014, Basel faced the Spanish top team Valencia CF and gave it all away the second leg fixture in Spain. Several current FCB players will remember that disappointing night; Fabian Frei, Taulant Xhaka and Valentin Stocker. The situation is slightly different this time round as FCB are playing the return leg at home, but you never know what the outcome will be.
APOEL lost on the weekend
Sometimes, a fixture can suddenly take a completely different course than you would have expected. This happened to FCB last Sunday in the home game against Servette FC, when FCB led 2-0 after a strong first half and ended up with draw. APOEL FC didn´t experience a positive weekend either. The Cypriot champions played in Paphos and lost 0:2. APOEL coach Marinos Ouzounidis only made a few changes his team compared to the team he played against Rotblau.
In contrast to Koller, Ouzinidis can choose from a large squad of healthy players. Koller is forced to make at least one change: Omar Alderete is suspended on Thursday, due to his third yellow card he picked up during the game in Nicosia. Jonas Omlin is struggling with several small injuries, therefore it´s questionable if he will play on Thursday. Koller will decide on matchday if his number one keeper will play. Kevin Bua, Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Jasper van der Werff, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Luca Zuffi, who are still injured and will certainly not play.
Chances of qualiying are in tact, concentration is key
Due to the mentioned injured/missing players, it is quite possible that Raoul Petretta will play in an offensive positions again. The trained left-back played this role in the first leg and in the game against Getafe CF last October… and he scored both times.
In Spain Petretta made an assist and in Cyprus he scored. Against Servette, however, he remained in the same position without a goal or assist. "I don't play any other when I play as a striker, you just get more opportunities to score when playing I an attacking position," said Petretta during an interview, "moreover, there is usually more room in offensive positions when playing international games." Let’s hope that in the game against APOEL FC we will create several chances and remain highly concentrated.