(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
FCB have played against the current Portuguese champions in the past, as well as all other teams from seeded pot 1. In 2011/2012 both teams crossed paths in the group stages of the Champion’s League. Despite playing a strong home game, FCB lost 0:2. In Lisbon FC Basel secured a 1:1 draw, thanks to a goal scored by Benjamin Huggel. At the end of the group stage, FCB landed in 2nd place, behind Benfica, but ahead of Manchester United and Oţelul Galaţi.
It has been a while since the Portuguese record title holders (36 titles) have experienced European success: 1961 and 1962 Benfica Lissabon won the European Cup and haven’t won the trophy since, despite participating in the final on 5 occasions (3 times in Uefa Cup/UEFA Europa League). Many people still believe the “Guttman Curse” is responsible for the lack of winning the European trophies..
Swiss international Haris Seferovic now plays for Benfica and has scored 3 goals in his first 3 fixtures for the club, significantly contributing to this season´s success. Benfica are 1st in the table, winning their 1st 3 games, 3 points ahead.
Manchester United FC
The sixth placed PL team of last season qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League. FCB have already faced the English top club on four occasions. The 1st meeting took place in the Champions League season of 2002/2003; after losing 1:3 at St. Jakob Park, FCB drew at Old Trafford (1:1) on the 12th of March 2003.
The 2nd fixture between the two sides, at Old Trafford, during the group stages of the UCL also resulted in a point for FCB. After losing 0:2 at half time, FCB fought themselves back into the game. Fabian Frei and Alex Frei (2), both scored, leading the fixture 3:2, however Manchester United scored in the last minute, resulting in a 3:3 draw. Thanks to the draw against Manchester United, it was in FCBs hands to secure points in their next fixture, to qualify for the next round of the competition. FCB succeeded and qualified for the last 16 round of the Champions League.
The English record league title holder (20) belongs to a small selection of teams who have won all 3 european competitions (including the no longer existing „Cup Winners Cup“) at least once. The “Champions League” has been won in 1968, 1999 and 2008, the Cup Winner Cup in 1991 and the Europa League in 2017.
After two games played in the current PL Season, Manchester United have both games and are top of the table.
PFK ZSKA Moskau
For the first time in club history, FCB face ZSKA Moscow. The Moscow club were last season´s runners up in the Russian League and beat BSC Young boys in the UCL play offs; 1:0 and 2:0. Bevor beating BSC Young Boys, the Russian side beat AEK Athens in the 3rd qualification round.
The 7 time Soviet and 6 time Russian Champions won the UEFA Cup in 2005. After 7 fixtures played in the current Premier Liga season, ZSKA hold 4th place with 13 points won.
Marco Strellers´comments to FCB´s Group A:
„We were drawn a difficult group - of course there are no easy groups in the Champions League. My view is that ZSKA Moscow belong to one of the top teams of pot 4. It won´t be easy as we have seen how they played in the playoff stage against YB.
There is no need to say much about Manchester United, They have had a great start to the PL season, winning two games out of two, and scoring many goals. ManU is one of the most famous clubs in the world. I personally have very positive memories of ManU as well as José Mourinho: We drew 3:3 at Old Trafford in 2011 and won 2:1 at home. We also beat Chelsea with coach Mourinho…. Twice. We are aware that everything worked for us back then; these things don´t happen every day.
Benfica Lisbon is a very big club, one of Europe´s biggest, with a massive volume of supporters and great young players who make it. One should always be cautions when facing a Portuguese Champion, as they are very capable and technically talented. Therefore it´s a difficult and uncomfortable draw for us.”
In general, the group stage is going to be tough for us, but we are not going to make it easy for our opponents. FC Basel has shown many times in the past that we can excel at the right moment creating magical football memories.”