Thursday 14 December 2017

Martinez a big loss for Porto in Basel clash


Porto are almost certain to be without captain and leading scorer Jackson Martinez when they host FC Basel, who are rapidly gaining in confidence, in their Champions League last 16, return leg tonight.

Basel coach Paulo Sousa, whose side were held 1-1 at home in the first leg, said they were nearly back to their best following the winter break which saw the departures of midfielders Marcelo Diaz and Serey Die.

The Swiss champions thumped FC Thun 3-0 on Saturday, leaving them seven points clear at the top of the league, with a performance which delighted the Portuguese coach.

"It was an amazing, amazing performance, and I'm really, really happy," said Sousa, whose side reached the Champions League knockout stage at the expense of Liverpool and are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1973/74.

"It means we have come back again to near our best level of performance. The boys enjoy playing at this level. It also means that we can recover more quickly and present ourselves in Porto at our best."

Porto have won their last six league games without conceding a goal and are also unbeaten in the Champions League this season, but it remains to be seen how they will fare without Colombia forward Martinez who suffered a groin injury in Friday's 1-0 win at Braga. Martinez has scored six goals in eight Champions League appearances this season and is also the leading scorer in the Portuguese League with 17 goals.

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