(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
Before the game:
Raphael Wicky chose to revert to a three-man defense for this fixture and welcomed back Éder Balanta who was on the bench during the recent fixture against FC Zürich. The Colombian pushed Albian Ajeti out of the starting lineup. Despite opting for a defender rather than an offensive player, FCB´s formation wasn’t more defensive than in the first leg.
The outlook for success prior to this fixture was positive before this second leg fixture against ZSKA kicked off: A victory against the Russians would have meant qualification for the next round of the UEFA Champions League, as long as SL Benfica would lose to ManU. A draw against ZSKA and a Benfica loss against Manchester would have resulted in EUROPA league football after the winter break.
The first half:
The first half resembled that of the first leg fixture. FCB was the more proactive side and created the better chances. The visitors did step up their game compared to the fixture in Moscow, putting their class to display on several occasions. FCB defended well and created chances through counter attacks. The goal resulted from great passing in a tight space; Mohamed Elyounoussi´s assist to Dimitri Oberlin was perfect, but was blocked by keeper Akinfeev. The blocked ball was received by Luca Zuffi, just outside of the box, who scored with a well-timed lob over the Russian keeper; 1:0.
The second half:
The visiting team was the better side as the home team may have acted to confident. Luca Zuffi nearly scored the 2:0 from a free kick, but Akinfeev played a strong game, leaving Zuffi with no reason to celebrate. The visitors ‘offensive stability pushed FCB to make mistakes, leading to Alan Dzagoev´s equalizer after an hour of pay. FC Basel failed to react. It was Marek Suchy´s wobbly defense which led to Pontus Wernbloom´s goal, scored from just outside of the box, 2:1 for ZSKA. Basel did push for a last-minute goal, but every attempt to score was destroyed by the Russians defense.
After the game:
Since Manchester United beat Benfica, FCB needed a win to qualify for the next round of the UCL and a draw for guaranteed Europa League qualification. Now, however everything is still possible in Group A, apart from the fact that Manchester United will hold first or second place in Group A´s table at the end of this group stage. Rapharl Wicky sees his team´s chances as intact to reach the last 16 stage of the competition: “We still find ourselves in a favorable situation. We will fight and work hard in the next two fixtures and do our best to reach our goal.”
Positive for FCB, that the Swiss Champions have the better outcome from both fixtures against ZSKA Moscow. Also, the 5:0 victory against Benfica helps FCB with their chances of maintaining in second place. This means that Basel need to collect as many points as ZSA in the last two fixtures to stay in second place; and not lose higher than 5:0 against Benfica. There is much to play for and a difficult home fixture against Manchester United ahead.
On Sunday FC Basel 1893 face leaders BSC Young Boys Bern at St. Jakob Park. “I am sure that the team has enough character to suck up this defeat and come back stronger”, stated Wicky after the game.
FC Basel 1893 – PFK ZSKA Moskau 1:2 (1:0)
St. Jakob-Park. – 33‘303 Attendance. – Referee Milorad Mazic (Serbia).
Goals 32. Zuffi 1:0 (Elyounoussi). 64. Dzagoev 1:1 (Natcho). 79. Wernbloom 1:2.
FCB: Vaclik; Akanji, Suchy, Balanta; Lang, Xhaka (73. Serey Die), Zuffi, Petretta (84. Itten); Steffen, Oberlin (71. Ajeti), Elyounoussi.
ZSKA: Akinfeev; Vasin, Vasili Berezutski, Aleksei Berezutski; Mario Fernandes, Natcho (Zhamaletdinov), Wernbloom, Golovin, Schennikov; Kuchaev (91. Milanov), Vitinho (46. Dzagoev).
Notes: FCB without van Wolfswinkel and Vailati (both injured). Substitutes FCB: Ajeti, Bua, Itten Fransson, Riveros, Salvi uad Serey Die. – Yellow Cards: 49. Natcho. 60. Xhaka (Suspended during next UCL-Spiel). 74. Balanta. 84. Mario Fernandes.