Preview: Basel vs. Nice

Preview: Basel vs. Nice

Nice travel to Switzerland to face Basel at St. Jakob-Park in their UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.

This tie will represent the first time the two clubs have ever met, and it could be the only route back into Europe next season for both.

Basel have had an incredibly dramatic run to the quarter-finals, as it is quite remarkable how they have managed to navigate through both ties in the knockout stage so far.

Despite overturning a one-goal deficit to beat Trabzonspor 2-0 in the preliminary round, the Turkish side missed a penalty, numerous more gilt-edged opportunities and had a goal ruled out by VAR, meaning the Swiss side were very fortunate to progress.

Lady luck was with Basel once more in their last 16 tie with Slovan Bratislava, as they came back from being 2-0 down in Slovakia with a 93rd-minute equaliser from Zeki Amdouni before winning on penalties.

Their struggles in getting through explain their recent run of form, as drawing both legs against Slovan means they are on a run of just one win in seven games.

That victory came against Winterthur who sit bottom of the Swiss top flight, a team Basel find themselves just nine points above at the moment.

Being in sixth means there are enough sides below them to minimise the risk of being dragged into a relegation battle, but Basel need a few more wins yet before they can breathe easy.

Nice come into the tie knowing they can make history by reaching a European semi-final for the first time in the club’s history.

They have already ended a long wait to reach a quarter-final on the continent, with this being their first since the 1959-60 European Cup.

Form on their travels has been crucial to Nice’s run to this stage, as they are unbeaten in away matches in this season UECL.

That has been a welcome change from their form away from home in previous European campaigns, where they had gone on a run of just two wins from 25, losing 19.

Nice have shown very little form coming into this clash though, as a defeat against Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend extended their winless run to five matches domestically.

Drawing with Angers the week previously, a side cut a long way adrift at the bottom of Ligue 1, was another huge disappointment, and has scuppered their hopes of qualifying for Europe via their league position.

Their last two wins both came in this competition, as Nice won home and away against Sheriff Tiraspol in the last 16.

However, despite their lack of wins, they have been a tough side to beat, as PSG were the first team to beat Nice in 14 games, a run dating back to a Coupe de France exit against Le Puy-en-Velay in early January.

Basel Europa Conference League form:

Basel form (all competitions):

Nice Europa Conference League form:

Nice form (all competitions):

We say: Basel 1-1 Nice
Neither side has felt the winning feeling much in recent weeks, and they may cancel each other out in what could be a cagey first leg.

Basel have done well at staying in ties in this competition, and they may have to do so again with Nice the slight favourites.

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