Direct form lines are rare in UEFA competitions but Basel and Lech Poznan will clash for the third time this season when they meet in UEFA Europa League Group I on Thursday.
Basel and Lech Poznan faced each other in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round and the outcome was two wins for the Swiss Super League leader over the side that is 16th on the 16-team Polish Ekstraklasa ladder. Basel capitalised on Tomasz Kedziora’s 66th-minute red card to take control of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg in Poland – Basel went from drawing 1-1 to leading 3-1 and then had one of its players sent off – before a very late goal in the second leg on Swiss soil resulted in a 1-0 home win and a 4-1 aggregate success for Urs Fischer’s side.
Perhaps the 4-1 aggregate scoreline was a bit harsh on Lech Poznan but it is hard to escape the claim of Basel in their UEFA Europa League rematch, not least because the domestic form of the teams could not be any different and they had contrasting experiences in the first batch of Group I games – FCB won 2-1 at Italian Serie A frontrunner Fiorentina, whereas the Railwayment drew 0-0 at home to Belenenses, which does not rate as a Portuguese Primeira Liga giant.
One should note that Basel trailed Fiorentina 0-1 until the Purples were reduced to 10 players but there is sufficient depth to FCB’s form not to get too hung up on that slice of good luck. Betfred are offering odds of -200 about Basel beating Lech Poznan for the third time in just over two months and that seems fair enough.
Sticking with UEFA Europa League Group I and Fiorentina is attractively listed at odds of -118 with sister bookmakers 888Sport and Unibet to get its campaign back on the rails with an away victory over Belenenses in Portugal.
Fiorentina needs the UEFA Europa League Group I points after contributing to its own downfall at home to Basel two weeks ago and, while the Portuguese Primeira Liga does contain a few sides that are capable of making a noise in Europe, the fact is that Belenenses is not one of them. Belenenses is 13th on the Portuguese Primeira Liga ladder following six rounds, it has beaten only second-bottom Moreirense and it came an almighty cropper away to Benfica, losing 0-6. Also, Belenenses did not manage a single effort on target in its 0-0 UEFA Europa League Group I draw at Lech Poznan. There is a gulf in class between Belenenses and Fiorentina, plus the latter cannot afford to settle for one point on the road.
One bagged the idea of taking short odds about Liverpool beating Aston Villa in the last English Premier League round but one does not have an issue with backing the Reds at the same kind of prices to defeat Sion in England on Thursday.
Liverpool made hard work of beating Aston Villa 3-2 but one expects them to make short shrift of Sion, which is fifth in the Swiss Super League and has picked up all bar one of its championship points from games versus lower-ranked teams. Also, Sion failed its Swiss Super League litmus test, crashing to a 0-3 defeat at Basel in the third round.
Many bookmakers, including William Hill, are quoting odds of -175 about Liverpool winning its UEFA Europa League Group B match against Sion and the Reds round out one’s shortlist. With regards to UEFA Europa League exotics, both sides to score in the Group D match between Legia Warszawa and Napoli appeals at odds of -118 . Napoli is odds on to win the UEFA Europa League Group D game but it has conceded at least one goal in six of its last seven away matches across all competitions.
Basel to beat Lech Poznan
1st October 18:00 GMT
Fiorentina to beat Belenenses
1st October 18:00 GMT
Liverpool to beat Sion
1st October 20:05 GMT
Legia Warszawa v Napoli BTTS
1st October 20.05 GMT