The action begins: On Friday 13th July 2012, FC Basel 1893 start the new Super League Season, away at Servette FC (19:45, Stade de Genève). On Wednesday 11th July 2012, FC Basel hosted a Media-day where players Marco Streller, Alex Frei, Yann Sommer and Marcelo Diaz spoke to fcb.ch about their pre-season excitement, expectations, goals and hopes in regard to the months ahead.
(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
Swiss league champions, Cup Winners, last 16 Champions League participants - this is FC Basel’s impressive resumé of last season. It is evident that it will be a big challenge to match or improve on last season’s successes. “That’s true” says Marco Streller. “However we wouldn’t be real athletes if we wouldn’t aim for the highest achievable targets. If we wouldn’t we might as well stop playing football”. These are the words of the FCB-Captain, who is looking forward to the arduous challenges ahead: “I have recently heard the talk of football overload, however there is no feeling of the sort in Basel, especially amongst the current squad”.
Streller is focusing towards a season which he is awaiting with „suspense and calmness“. “FC Zurich have a new coach, Grasshoppers strengthened their team with many transfers and FC Sion have astonished many with a big name transfer.” He thinks its “fantastic” that Sion President Christian Constantin managed to persuade Italian World Cup Winner, Gennaro Gattuso to sign for FC Sion. “He is surely an attraction for the Swiss Super League, I am looking forward to him”, stated Basel’s captain. Strellers offensive team mate Alex Frei shares the same opinion: “The signing of Gattuso is great for Sion and for that entire region of Switzerland”. The two-time running Super League top scorer is also happy about the return of Stéphane Grichting, who now plays for Grasshoppers Zurich. “And if Ben Khalifa will be able to return to his old form, Grasshoppers will definitely be stronger than last season”.
FCB's Captain Marco Streller.
Streller's offensiv team mate and top scorer Alex Frei.
Also in regards to his own team, Alex Frei believes the integration of new players as refreshing: „It is always exciting to incorporate new players into the team. Several players come from diverse a cultural background, which creates a great learning experience for the existing players”. He personally experienced the importance of having players help you integrate into a foreign environment; this is of great importance. Fresh talent or new additions to the team also help to eliminate a sort of lethargy, which can pop up now and again. Frei states: “I would say that after three very successful years with five out of six possible titles, and large scale team restructuring, a very challenging time awaits us. It won’t be easy to exceed the recent successes, but we will definitely give it a try.”
A new addition who will be helping FC Basel achieve their goals is Marcelo Diaz. The 25 year old Chilean arrived in Basel last weekend and already feels “accepted and welcomed into the team”, he said. The central midfielder knows what it’s like to have had a very successful few years: With his previous club, CF Universidad de Chile, Diaz has won no less than four titles within the last 18 months. “This was a very important and positive phase of my career so far” mentioned FC Basel’s new 1.66 Meter signing. “And now I hope that I can continue my success with FC Basel”. He is very happy to finally be in Basel. However his departure from Santiago de Chile was not easy, as the fans honoured him as one of the clubs most important and talented players. When asked about his qualities which he will bring to Basel game, Diaz states: “I believe that I am a very diverse player. My own game play is based on ball control, technical ability and dynamics. I am never static and will attempt to support the team offensively and defensively.“
The new player from Chile, Marcelo Diaz (in the middle).
Also the qualities of Basel’s goalkeeper Yann Sommer are as renowned as they are diverse. Yann had an excellent first season as Basel’s Nr 1 keeper, who was a substantial part of Basel’s recent success story. “Last season was excellent however all of that doesn’t mean anything anymore. Now we start from ground zero again”, mentioned Sommer. “We hold both trophies here in Basel, which means we are going to be hunted and chased. I have a positive feeling in regards to the new season; however we will have to invest a lot in order to be as successful as we have been.” He hopes to start this season more successfully than last, in which Basel found themselves in 8th place after the first 6 matches. It’s all about integrating the new players as quickly as possible, as big challenges lie immediately ahead. Sommer:” Three Champions League qualification rounds need to be overcome. “The group stage is a major target but. “it is evident for me that as first priority must defend the two national titles”.
Second season as FCB's number 1: Goalkeeper Yann Sommer.