(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
The status quo:
The current table of Group A is unexpected. Most people would have expected Machester United to be placed first, half way through the group stages of the Champions League. The English team have not lost a point so far. They only need one more point to qualify for the next round of the competition. FCB´s situation is somewhat different: If FCB beat ZSKA Moscow, then ManU need to beat Benfica so that FCB qualify for the last 16 stage of the Champions League. This would be the next big surprise for FC Basel. The biggest surprise is surely that the Portuguese Champions currently lie in last position, with zero points.
The status quo has never been this favorable for FCB in any of their Champions’ League group stage campaigns so far. Even if FCB would draw against ZSKA, their chances to play European football in the new year would still be intact. Only if Benfica beat Manchester United and FCB are the losers of the direct battle against the Portuguese, then FCB could end up in third place.
Even though the current situation seems favorable for FCB, coach Raphael Wicky warns not to be too confident: “The team have played themselves into a promising position, but they have won nothing yet. We are fully concentrated on the second leg against ZSKA and we will see what how well Man United play. We can’t influence the other fixture of the group.
The 1st leg:
In the first leg, two weeks ago, in Moscow, FCB played very solid ninety minutes. Not only did FCB deserve the three points, but they also the way in which the visitors played was impressive. There was only a single moment of danger in front of Basel´s goal, when FCB´s defense proved to be a little was disorganized after a ZSKA free-kick. Not a single shot was fired at Vaclik´s goal during the entire ninety minutes. On the other hand, FC Basel 1893 created several chances and had a goal disallowed.
Defensive stability is what Basel have improved on in recent weeks, contributing to their success. Keeper Tomas Vaclik commented on this during the press conference: “It´s a great feeling for me not to concede that many goals. That´s the foundation of success. Our oponents aren’t getting many chances to score, which is half the battle. Defending starts with the offensive players; therefore, it has been the entire teams’ effort which have improved our defensive quality.” Even if FCB fail to score against ZSKA, keeping a clean sheet will open doors for the Basel boys.
Coach Wicky has been watching his opponent and has made the following statement: „ We are prepared for two scenarios. ZSKA played two different games when we faced each other last time. The first half did not cause us as many difficulties as the second. Even though the Russians need a win, I doubt they will only play an attacking game.”
In the domestic league, the side from Moscow hasn’t made any dramatic improvements: After facing FCB, they drew 0:0 against FK Zenit St. Petersburg and lost 0:1, away to FK Arsenal Tula. Just like FCB, they are 7 points behind the first placed team.
Apart from the injured palyers Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Germano Vailati, all others are available for action. “Most likely Afimico Pululu und Dominik Schmid will play in the UEFA Youth League, for the under nineteens “, stated coach Wicky on Monday.