Soccer-Injury to Porto's Martinez offers Basel more hope

March 9 (Reuters) - 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 on Tuesday. 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." Sousa, in his first season at Basel after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli league title last term, is on familiar ground as he faced Porto 12 times as a player -- seven with Benfica, four with Sporting Lisbon and once with Panathinaikos. Porto, second behind Benfica in the Portuguese championship, have won their last six league games without conceding a goal and are also unbeaten in the Champions League this season. However, 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. Overall, he has scored 86 times in 125 appearances since he joined the Dragons from Mexico's Chiapas in July 2012. Porto, who are attempting to reach the last eight for the second time since winning the trophy under Jose Mourinho in 2004, have lost on five out of their last six appearances in the round of 16. They are unbeaten against Swiss opponents since losing 3-0 to Grasshoppers in a UEFA Cup match in the 1980/81 season. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Ken Ferris)