Soccer UEFA Conference League - Play-Offs Prediction
Basel vs Fiorentina - Match Preview
⚽ 18 May 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Basel came from a goal down to secure what could be a pivotal 2-1 win in the first leg of this UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) semi-final. They are now on the cusp of history, as successfully protecting that lead could see Basel become the first-ever Swiss team to reach the final of a major European tournament, though they’ll have to shape better than they did in their humiliating 6-1 Swiss Super League defeat away to St. Gallen at the weekend.
Boss Heiko Vogel making nine changes to his starting XI serves as a mitigating factor in that defeat, but with a gap of four points to the European qualification spots in their domestic league, winning this competition looks like Basel’s best route back into continental action next season. They’ll therefore be hoping their solid home form, which has seen them lose only three of their last 23 home European matches (W17, D3) can help them take a step closer to that goal.
Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Italiano admitted last week’s first-leg defeat made him “angry”, before explaining the difficulties his side will face in trying to unlock a Basel defence protecting a lead. Perhaps he and his squad can take confidence from their 2-0 win over Udinese this past weekend, especially as a repeat scoreline would seal a fifth European final appearance for La Viola.
Further boosting confidence, a comeback could be on the cards. The Italian outfit has scored at least twice in each of their five European games away to Swiss opposition, helping form a solid unbeaten record (W3, D2). That impressive streak combined with a run of just one defeat in 11 European games outside of Italy (W8, D2) should give the visitors hope this tie is far from over.
📋 Players to watch: Amdouni was one of those initially rested last weekend, although he was called upon in the second half to try and save some face for Basel, and he’s scored six goals in his last six UECL matches. Fiorentina’s Giacomo Bonaventura scored and received a red card at the weekend, meaning he’ll miss their next Serie A outing and might be keen to atone for it here.
⚡ Hot stat: Basel has progressed in 14 of the 15 previous European ties in which they won the first leg away.
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