Scout Report: Basle
Ahead of Tottenham's Europa League quarter-final clash with Basle we take an in-depth look at the Swiss outfit and pinpoint how they might hurt Andre Villas-Boas' side
By Oliver Todd
Last Updated: 04/04/13 10:28am
Tottenham fans will have been pleased with their draw against Europa League rank outsiders Basel, but the Swiss club have the potential to cause an upset.
Having beaten Manchester United in last season's Champions League, Basel have reached the last eight of the Europa League to the surprise of many, including their coach. However, they have everything to play for and nothing to lose - a dangerous combination that Tottenham would be unwise to underestimate.
Ahead of the game, Oliver Todd has taken a look at the players Tottenham will have to watch out for and how Basel may approach the game.
Basel's giant Swiss international Marco Streller stands at 6ft 5ins and has been a handful for Europa League defences throughout the campaign. Four goals in seven appearances put him joint sixth in the goalscoring rankings and he will be looking to cause problems for whichever centre-back pairing Andre Villas-Boas decides to deploy. He scored to help knock Manchester United out of last year's Champions League and the Basel captain will hope to secure another English scalp in this year's quarter-finals.
Rated as one of Europe's hottest prospects and repeatedly linked with the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, Aleksandar Dragovic has been ever-present in this season's Europa League. He was superb as Basel repelled the attacking might of Zenit St Petersburg in the previous round and has contributed to all six of Basel's clean sheets in the competition so far but is likely to face his biggest challenge yet in combatting Gareth Bale's movement in the middle.
Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah has a number of European suitors but looks to be moving to the Bundesliga next season with Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund likely destinations. The 20-year-old is another who has been ever-present for Basel and he has assisted a third of their goals in the competition. Despite his young age he already holds 20 caps for Egypt and will see the tie with Tottenham as a great opportunity to showcase his talents on the big stage.
STYLE OF PLAY
Manager Murat Yakin is enjoying his first season in Europe and has already stated that his side have "nothing to lose" in facing Tottenham. Judging by their previous games, Basel will look to pack the midfield and aim to overload Tottenham's central midfield pairing whilst relying on Streller's physical hold-up play in attack to bring the likes of Salah forward. Yakin's comments would indicate though that Basel are simply happy to have reached this stage, and may look to make things tough for Spurs.
EUROPA LEAGUE CAMPAIGN TO DATE
Basel finished second in their initial group behind Belgian side Genk, knocking out last year's semi-finalists Sporting Lisbon in the process including a 3-0 win over the Portuguese side. They then knocked out Ukraine's Dnipro before seeing off Liverpool's conquerors Zenit St Petersburg in the last 16. Their home form has been key, with only Genk leaving St. Jakob-Park with a draw, and all other opponents being defeated. Six goals conceded represents a decent defensive record, although they have only scored 12 times at the other end of the field.
The Swiss champions have tended to field one up front, with Streller most often trusted with leading the line. That aside, it is fair to expect Tottenham will face a side purely built to defend, with two banks of four sitting in front of the goalkeeper with rare attacks carefully timed and carefully planned. Basel have the advantage of having their home leg second and will not want the tie to be over before they bring Tottenham to St. Jakob Park.