Preview: Basel vs. Trabzonspor
Basel welcome Trabzonspor to St Jakob-Park for the second leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League playoff round encounter on Thursday evening.
Abdullah Avci’s side beat RotBlau 1-0 in Turkey a week ago after substitute Jens Stryger Larsen scored the only goal of the game at the Senol Gunes Stadium 10 minutes into the second half.
Basel are at risk of falling a step short of last season’s Europa Conference League campaign, which saw them eliminated by French football powerhouse Marseille – 4-2 on aggregate – in the last 16 stage of the tournament.
Struggling in the Swiss Super League, Basel currently trail leaders Young Boys by an eye-watering 20 points, with only 35 more up for grabs before the conclusion of the current campaign.
Heiko Vogel’s recently-inherited side were denied all three points on Sunday against Servette, as Chris Bedia appeared off the substitutes’ bench to salvage a share of the spoils for the visitors with a 96th-minute penalty at St Jakob-Park.
To make matters worse domestically, midfielder Fabian Frei will now be confined to the sidelines on the back of being shown a straight red card by referee Sandro Scharer less than a minute on from Alain Geiger’s side’s last-gasp equaliser.
Following on from taking charge of Basel for precisely a year in October 2011, Vogelm, who is also the current sporting director of the club, will again take his temporary position in the dugout after Alex Frei’s sacking on February 7.
Trabzonspor are seeking to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa Conference League for the first time in the club’s 55-year history.
Avci’s side should have arguably been victorious by a more significant margin last Thursday, as Basel’s number one Marwin Hitz made several key saves to keep the scoreline down to just one goal.
Unlikely to become the first side to defend their Turkish Super Lig title since Galatasaray successfully accomplished that feat in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Trabzonspor’s best hope of qualifying for a trip to the shores of European football next season will be to try and overhaul third-placed Istanbul Basaksehir.
Trailing Okan Buruk’s table-toppers by 16 points, Black Sea Storm will return to league action on March 4 against Umraniyespor, after the postponement of Turkish football following the catastrophic earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria earlier this month.
Trabzonspor have only suffered one defeat across their four-match historical head-to-head history in all competitions, and will make the 2000+ mile journey with the utmost confidence of making it through to the last 16 of UEFA’s newest organised competition.
Basel Europa Conference League form:
Basel form (all competitions):
Trabzonspor Europa Conference League form:
Trabzonspor form (all competitions):
We say: Basel 1-1 Trabzonspor
Taking a slender advantage into their midweek trip to Switzerland, we predict that Trabzonspor will take their place in the hat for the draw of the last 16 of the UEFA Europa Conference League, which is scheduled to take place in Nyon, Switzerland, on February 24.