(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
The current Group A table is no surprise: For the first time, FCB played ManU without winning a point, but this was expected. Manchester United, started the season in a very positive note, only losing points to Stoke City FC in the 1st fixture of the season (2:2). FC Basel 1893 on the other hand haven’t started the season as they hoped to, with only limited success.
The other teams in Group A didn’t kick off their domestic leagues that well. The Portuguese champions drew against Rio Ave FC (1:1) and lost to Boavista FC (1:2), trailing 5 points behind leaders FC Porto, currently in 3rd place. PFK ZSKA Moscow lead the table by 7 points but have encountered difficulties, dropping a total of 7 points. It was however a surprise that the Moscow team beat Benfica during their 1st UCL group stage fixture.
The Russians did trail behind at the beginning of the 2nd half, but were able to react, turning the game around, winning 2:1. A positive reaction is epected from Benfica after their unexpected loss, putting pressure on the Portuguese side before they face FCB in Basel. Raphael Wicky sees no real advantage for FCB:” I doubt that Benfica will make tactical changes. Our visitors will try and play dominant football and will put pressure on us as soon as possible,”
Basel playing better against Portuguese teams
The last and only time these teams faced each other was in the group stage of the Champions League in 2011/2012. Back then FCB lost 0:2 at home and drew 1:1 in Lisbon. The situation is now totally different; back then the Portuguese side didn’t lose a single game in the league or Champions League for the entire 2nd half of 2011. Currently Benfica have lost in both competitions, an are presumably weaker than in the season of 2011/2012.
Based on statistics, FCB have their advantages. Before facing Benfica in 2011, FCB´s record against Portuguese teams wasn’t that great; one win and one draw (against Vitória SC from Guimarães) and four losses (against Sporting Club de Portugal). After facing Benfica in 2011, things got better for the Swiss side; Six fixtures (two against Sporting, FC Porto and CF Os Belenenses), securing two wins, two draws and two losses.
Benfica are favorites to win
On Wednesday evening at St. Jakob-Park, the neutral spectator will most likely see Benfica as the favorites to win. Wicky has a similar view: “Benfica are favorites; however, we go into every game with the aim to win-even though we recognize that it’s going to be a very difficult game. We will have our chances and we will have to make use of them.” FCB will be fired up after their victory against rivals FC Zurich last Saturday; FC Zurich´s 1st loss of the season.
Mohamed Elyounoussi will be back in time for FCB´s 1st Champions League home game of the season. The Norwegian returned to the training field on Sunday and is eager to get back onto the European stage. The only player who is hindered due to injury is Omar Gaber. For the game against the Portuguese Champions there were 33´400 tickets sold on Tuesday afternoon.