Following the 3:1 against FC Lausanne-Sport, on Sunday the 29th of April 2012, FC Basel claimed the title earlier than any other team ever has, under the existing league format. Upon reaching 65 points, Heiko Vogel’s team can no longer be caught by any other Super League team, or by any court cases or judges decisions (FC Luzern & FC Sion). FC Basel can now celebrate their first ever league title hat-trick, since their formation in 1893. With three games still to play before the end of the season, the 2011/2012 season will go down in history as one of the strongest FC Basel seasons of all time.
(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
During the course of a season most teams experience highs and lows, this was also the case with FC Basel 1893 squad of 2011/2012. Except: The only low period that FCB was going trough was during the first 6 games of the season... Since then, Basel proved to be exceptionally strong in all 3 competitions; the Super League, the Swiss Cup and the UEFA Champions League. In the last 42 games FC Basel only lost an astonishing 4 games. What a record! The only teams to beat the Swiss Champions of 2012 were FC Zurich (2:1) and Benfica Lissabon (2:0) at St.Jakob’s Park, as well as Luzern (3:1) and Bayern Munich (7:0) away.
Two of these defeats took place during the first half of the season, where Basel did not start on a high. After the first 6 games and a 1:3 defeat to FC Luzern, FC Basel found themselves in seventh place. It was in August 2011 when several key FCB-players got everyone together and motivated and geared the rest of the team up, to swear to future success and to represent the club with pride and dignity. These words of motivation and collective drive had a tremendous impact on the team, resulting in not a single league game loss in eight months. This was the foundation of the 15th league title. Due to continuous success, Heiko Vogel’s team sailed away from their competitors as solitary leaders of the league table.
Change of Coach in October 2011
The positive change of direction had already begun under the previous team coach Thorsten Fink. His mid season move to Hamburg SV on October 13th 2011 was another notable feature of this historic season. FC Basel’s board of directors promptly decided to promote assistant coach Heiko Vogel to head coach, which soon became evident to have been a wise decision. After the victory against Lausanne in 28 league games, Heiko Vogel has won 21, drawn 5 and lost 2 games – both losses conceded during the UEFA Champions League competition. On a national level (18 league fixtures & 4 Cup fixtures) Heiko Vogel is so far unbeaten. In this breathtaking season is also very fitting that FC Basel is now level with their existing "new age" record from 2004, of 23 consecutive games without a single defeat.
Although celebrating the very impressive consistency and dominance of FC Basel in the Swiss Super League, the emotional highlights for Basel fans were during this year’s Champions League campaign. FC Basel not only surprised themselves but proved to be very self confident, offering their opponents a tough challenge. Basel’s football fairytale began with an amazing 3:3 draw at Old Trafford, against Manchester United. After the only loss during the group stages of the competition against Benfica Lissabon (0:2), Benjamin Huggel’s away goal secured a 1:1 draw against the Portuguese. FC Basel won both games against the Romanian’s of Otelul Galati, before the infamous match against Manchester United, on the 7th of December 2011, at Basel’s St. Jakob Park. FC Basel’s 2:1 victory against Manchester United transformed the entire city of Basel into a state of ecstasy, qualifying for the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history.
Yet Another Sensation at St. Jakob park
As if the victory against Manchester United needed to be topped, FC Basel played FC Bayern Munich, in February, during the last 16 stage of the competition. Valentin Stocker making his comeback after a severe injury got the golden goal 20 Minutes after coming on, towards the end of the game, he with many of the home fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief. The fact that the return leg in Munich didn’t end as successfully as in Basel will not be discussed further here...
What else is there to be said, after a season which began with a weak start followed by highlight after highlight? It wouldn’t make any sense to focus on individuals, as the current team’s success was determined by an enormous togetherness, with every one playing for each other. Every player individually contributed to FC Basel’s success, in all 3 competitions. There were however a few deciding factors: The red & blue striking duo, Alex Frei and Marco Streller, yet again seemed to be unbeatable, leading both the league’s scorer list as well as the list of most assists. Following Streller and Frei, both Marcus Steinhöfer and Xherdan Shaqiri held 3rd and 4th place in this seasons’ assist list.
Heiko Vogel describes Yann Sommer: „World Class“
Yann Sommer proved to be a perfect replacement for the successful and more experienced goalkeeper Franco Costanzo. The 23 year old keeper faced a big challenge during the summer of 2011, in stepping into Costanzo’s footsteps. In agreement with all players and fans, Yann Sommer has proven to be the right man for the job, supporting his team with super reflexes and providing the teams defence with great security, especially during the UEFA Champions League fixtures. After the 1:0 victory against Bayern Munich, Heiko Vogels simply praised Yann Sommers performance as “World Class”.
The exemplary work of Basel’s defensive rocks, David Abraham/Aleksandar Dragovic shouldn’t remain unmentioned. Both players supported their club with solid performances comparable to interntional level. In addition FC Basel youth development has made it’s mark on an international level. The transfer of Xherdan Shaqiri to Bayern Munich is a very strong signal for a Swiss football club. Granit Xhaka has advanced in his 2nd season in the main squad to international professional, who is being tracked by many top level clubs. Through the experience and class of retiring FC Basel defensive midfield favourite Benjamin Huggel, Xhaka was able to learn a lot and develop himself. 22 year old Fabian Frei who advanced from Basel’s youth squad in 2004, also showed off his huge talent, especially during Basel’s UEFA Champions League games.
And now for the icing on the cake?
The 15th league title in Basel’s hands since Sunday the 29th of April, 2012 is reality – the 1st title hattrick in FC Basel’s club history. Can it get any better? Yes, the icing on the cake will be if FC Basel 1893 can beat FC Luzern on the 16th of May, in the final of the Swiss Cup in the Stade de Suisse (Bern). A victory in Bern would mean no less than the 3rd League/Cup win, in the past 5 years.
The pictures of the title celebrations:
- The game agians Lausanne-Sport: Click here
- The celebration in the stadium: Click here
- The celebration in the city: Click here
(Photos: Sacha Grossenbacher, Uwe Zinke)