Shakhtar Donetsk – FC Basel: Flexibility And Ferocity Give Basel A Beating (4-1)
A versatile buildup system and exploiting FC Basel on the transition rewarded Shakhtar Donetsk with the third Europa League semi-final in the club’s history. Their central focus overwhelmed their opponents, while Basel’s own passing structure lacked the balance or the bite to get themselves back into the game.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Basel are regular European competitors, but the opportunity to get into a semi-final does not come often for these two teams. After dismantling Bundesliga opposition in the previous round, both Shakhtar and Basel were looking to prolong their stay in Germany by being part of the Europa League’s final four.
The successor to the sharply dressed and tactical savvy Paulo Fonseca, would come in the form of fellow Portuguese man, Luís Castro. He has kept to similar trends at Shakhtar, a 4-2-3-1 structure that is possession-orientated and withholds impressive positional play in the buildup.
As always, there is a fresh influx of Brazilian prospects, such as Dodô, Marcos Antonio and Tetê, but the playing squad of the Ukrainian champions is mostly filled with veteran journeymen; 33-year-old Junior Moraes has been directly involved in thirteen goals in his past sixteen Europa League appearances.
Their third-place finish in the Swiss Super League is the lowest for over a decade, but Basel is still a promising team, with an emphasis around young players. Their top goal scorer is the 22-year-old Brazilian forward Arthur Cabral, signed from Palmeiras last month after he was a season on loan, while Afimico Pululu, Eray Cömert and Blás Riveros are all also regular starters below . . .