(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
In Group A of the UEFA Champions League 2016/2017, FC Basel 1893 will be faced with two teams they have never competed against; Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal London. Ludogorets Razgrad is a familiar club, as FCB played them four times in the past two years.
Familiar faces return to St. Jakob-Park when FCB play against one of London´s most prestigious clubs, Arsenal London. Both Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka who used to play in red and blue, now play for the English giants, who have won the Premier League 13 times. Elneny moved from the Rhein to the Thames last winter and Granit Xhaka transferred from Borussia Mönchengladbach to the Gunners during this summer´s transfer window. The duel of the Xhaka brothers Thaulant and Granit makes this fixture even more special. This upcoming games of football between FC Basel and the side who won the Fairs Cup in 1970 and the Cup Winner´s Cup in 1994 will be a first. Arsenal London achieved direct qualification for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League by finishing second in last seasons Barclay´s Premier League.
The fixture between the French Champions Paris Saint-Germain and FCB is a premier. PSG was formed in 1970 when both Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain merged together. The side located in the French capital have won the League on 6 occasions; 1986, 1994 and consecutively for the past 4 years. The biggest success to date was winning the Cup Winner´s Cup in 1996. PSG nearly won the same trophy the following year, failing to beat FC Barcelona in the final. Last season PSG reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League but were then eliminated by Manchester City.
FC Basel have been paired with the Bulgarian Champions, PFC Ludogorets Razgrad for the third time. In 2014 both teams faced each other in the Play-offs for the UEFA Champions League. FCB won the away leg 4:2 and the home fixture 2:0. A year later both sides faced each other again, in the group stage of the Champions League. This time round the home side managed to celebrate a 1:0 victory in Sofia (where the Bulgarians play their international fixtures) and FCB won 4:0 at St. Jakob-Park. At the end of the group stage, FC Basel 1989 qualified for the last 16 stage of the competition, whereas Razgrad finished last, failing to reach the next round. Currently Ludogorets is in top form, winning their last five fixtures in their domestic league.
FCB’s reaction to the UCL draw
Urs Fischer: “I was watching the draw and I can say that I am really happy with our group! We have never faced Arsenal nor PSG – This is also a great draw for our supporters. These are two world class clubs, especially Paris Saint-Germain proved how strong they are during last season´s Champions League. The fixture against Arsenal is special as two ex-FC Basel players, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny now play for the Gunners- It´s going to be interesting. As we are familiar with Ludogorets Razgrad, we must make sure that we don´t underestimate their ability. Every team that has qualified for the Champions League has quality, therefore there are no easy opponents at this level. Nevertheless, we want to represent ourselves to the best of our ability and we will definitely make our mark. Difficult yet interesting challenges lie ahead, so the club and fans can look forward to this Group.”
Bernhard Heusler: “I am looking forward to our group and the upcoming Champions League campaign! We have been drawn two teams which we have never played before. Both PSG and Arsenal are European Top Clubs! I am looking forward to these fixtures as well as the fixtures against Ludogorets Raygrad, who we are familiar with. When playing against Arsenal, we will be faced with two players who used to play for FCB; midfielders Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny. It will be great to these two fantastic individuals! It will be exiting to play against PSG, a team from the iconic city of Paris. The Parisian side has dominated the French league for years. As Basel borders not only Germany but also France, I am happy that our French neighbors will have the opportunity to see the consecutive Champions of the Lique 1 in action at St. Jakob-Park. We are familiar with Ludogorets Razgrad as we have played four fixtures against them. As they play their international fixtures in Sofia, the travel time is comparable to travelling to a central European country. Our goal is to still be represented in European competition in the new year. This was our aim before the draw and has nothing to do with the teams we have been drawn to play against. We want to offer our fans many exiting, European fixtures in 2017.”
FCB-fixtures for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League 2016/2017:
- Tuesday, 13. September: FCB – PFC Ludogorets Razgrad
- Wednesday, 28. September: Arsenal FC – FCB
- Wednesday, 19. October: Paris Saint-Germain – FCB
- Tuesday, 1. November: FCB – Paris Saint-Germain
- Wednesday, 23. November: PFC Ludogorets Razgrad – FCB
- Tuesday, 6. December: FCB – Arsenal FC