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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Basel to rely on insider knowledge in last 16 clash with Porto

FC Basel's forward Marco Streller (C) takes part in a training session in Basel on February 17, 2015, on the eve of the Champions League football match between Basel and Porto
FC Basel's forward Marco Streller (C) takes part in a training session in Basel on February 17, 2015, on the eve of the Champions League football match between Basel and Porto

Basel's Champions League tie against Porto tonight pits two clubs who have mastered the art of nurturing the talent of little-known footballers and selling them on to Europe's top teams

Both have been highly successful at what they do and have managed to remain competitive despite allowing a succession of top footballers to walk through the exit door.

Twice European champions Porto have raked in more than half a billion euros from selling players, many of them bought for a pittance from South American clubs, in the last 10 years.

The likes of Radamel Falcao, Hulk, James Rodriguez, Raul Meireles, Pepe and Anderson all passed through the Dragao Stadium and Porto's much-acclaimed youth academy before heading elsewhere. Basel have turned the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Yann Sommer into Bundesliga material and helped Egypt forward Mohamed Salah earn a move to the Premier League.

Having qualified at the expense of Manchester United in 2011-12, Basel ousted Liverpool in the group stage this time around. The Swiss side, in their first season under Portuguese coach Paulo Sousa, are attempting to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1973-74 when they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Celtic.

Captain Marco Streller believes Basel's insider knowledge could make all the difference. "Half our training staff are Portuguese; they know Porto very well and we fully trust them," he said. "Sousa's role will be crucial. We trust him. If anyone knows Portuguese football well then it has to be him. "It can be a real asset that Paulo and his staff know Porto like the back of their hand. We are playing attractive football that bears the signature of our coach and we're all very happy about it."

BASEL V PORTO: LIVE Setanta Ireland/SS1 (7.45pm)

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