FC Basel will be hoping to keep their cool this time when they take on FC Tobol Kostanay on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa Conference League second-round qualifier (15:00 KO).
Tobol picked up a surprise 3-1 victory at St. Jakob-Park to put themselves in a strong position going into the reverse fixture at Kostanay Central Stadium, Kazakhstan.
However, Basel will feel aggrieved at some of the decisions that went against them in that clash and they will be eager to make amends by securing a win that will see them through or at least take the game to extra-time.
Basel took a 25th-minute lead on home soil through Thiemo Barry in the first leg before he was then sent off in the second half, a dismissal that allowed Tobol back into the game and they duly obliged by scoring two unanswered goals.
Riccardo Calafiori was then given his marching orders for the hosts, reducing them to nine men, and the visitors managed to grab another to give themselves a two-goal advantage.
With such a heavy numerical advantage, it’s arguable that Tobol should have built a bigger lead and there is a feeling they could have missed a great opportunity to essentially seal their place in the third qualifying round.
As it stands Basel are still right in this tie and, if they are able to keep a full complement on the pitch for the second leg, they should have the quality to dispatch their opponents – just as they did when they met in the first round of qualifying for the UEFA Cup in 2006-07.
That is not to say this will be an easy task for the Swiss outfit and they will need to overcome a Tobol side that haven’t tasted defeat on home soil since the start of May.
Basel are a cut above the level of opposition Milic Curcic’s side usually face in Kazakhstan, though, and FCB have shown an acclimation for picking up results on their travels in this competition.
Timo Schultz’s troops have won five of their last seven away Europa Conference League contests, beating the likes of Nice and Fiorentina, and have lost just once during that period.
Basel also warmed up for this tie with a thumping 5-2 victory over Winterthur in the league, getting them off the mark at the second time of asking this season, and that will have done the team a world of good.
It was also pleasing to see Fabian Frei get on the scoresheet twice at the end of that clash, so he will be eager to keep that momentum going.
With Tobol having only ever reached the main stage of a European competition when the Intertoto Cup was still in existence, the weight of expectation may prove to be too much for them and backing Basel to get the win looks like the shrewd option.