(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
Before the game:
Before kickoff it was clear that this was going to be a very important game between ZSKA Moscow and FCB. Both teams had 3 points, both beating SL Benfica. Raphael Wicky played a 3-4-3 system. The defense consisted of Manuel Akanji, Marek Suchy and Éder Balanta, who is currently sitting out on a ban in the domestic league. Wicky couldn’t count on Taulant Xhaka against Lugano (in the Swiss league) for similar reasons, but Taulant was for Moscow. It was Kevin Bua and Geoffrey Serey Die who replaced the Éder and Taulant during their ban.
The climate was mild in Russia´s capital city, 10 degrees Celsius on an Autumn night.
The first half:
It took the visitors ten minutes to take control of the game. FCB didn’t allow any defensive mishaps and had the majority of ball possession; most of the possession within the opponents half. This is how FCB avoided danger in front of their own goal. Basel kept calm, remained patient and were rewarded after half an hour of play: Taulant Xhaka trekked across ZSKA´s half of the pitch, belted the ball from 20 meters, into the lower corner, 1:0!
Basel put keeper Igor Akinfeev to the test in the first half; Mohamed Elyounoussi tried his luck from just outside of the box as well as Michael Lang who attempted a volley from a tight angle. On both occasions, the ZSKA keeper could prevent further damage. 1:0 at half time was well deserved.
The second half:
The second half started with a strange situation. After a free kick, Albian Ajeti scored FCB´s second goal of the night. The players and travelling supporters where celebrating the 2:0, but referee Björn Kuipers decided to disallow Basel´s goal because of an alleged foul. FCB did not let this unexpected decision rock their boat, even as the home team were advancing into Basel´s box more often. Moscow did not create that much danger. The only danger was created when keeper Tomas Vaclik failed to clear a high ball, after a ZSKA free kick. Mario Fernandes took advantage of the rebound, heading the ball towards goal, just failing to score for the Russians.
The home team tried a last attempt to score in the last stage of the game, but FCB remained defensively solid. Basel was capable of more: Dimitri Oberlin took advantage of his third big chance within minutes, scoring 2:0 in the ninetieth minute. Minutes beforehand Oberlin tripped up with only Akinfeev to beat as well as failing to score on an open goal.
After the game:
Raphael Wicky was extremely happy with his team´s performance: „ The boys implemented our plan very well and defended excellently. This was the key to success.” This was the second victory for FCB in the Russian capital, after a 2:0 victory against Spartak Moscow, 15 years ago.
The victory against Moscow is of great value to FCB; three very important points. If SL Benfica, who lost 0:1 at home to Manchester United FC, would lose to ManU at home and FCB would beat ZSKA Moscow in Basel, then FCB would qualify for the next round of the competition. Coach Wicky is happy about the positive outlook but warns not to get too excited yet: “ We are happy with six points from three games, as this is not a given. We need to continue the hard work, as our goal has yet to be reached.” The fixture in Moscow showed that we can beat this side. Two weeks before the two sides meet again. The Basel boys can now enjoy the fact that they deserved victory and have collected 6 points, half way through the group stage of the competition. FCB have never won these many points at this stage of the competition.
PFK ZSKA Moskau – FC Basel 1893 0:2 (0:1)
ZSKA Stadion. – 27‘996 Attendance. – Referee Björn Kuipers.
Goals: 29. Xhaka 0:1 (Steffen). 90. Oberlin 0:2 (Xhaka).
ZSKA: Akinfeev; Vasin, Ignashevic (46. Natcho), Aleksei Berezutski; Mario Fernandes, Wernbloom, Schennikov; Golovin, Milanov (70. Kuchaev); Zhamaletdinov (77. Chalov), Vitinho.
FCB: Vaclik; Akanji, Suchy, Balanta; Lang, Xhaka, Zuffi, Petretta; Steffen (87. Bua), Ajeti (61. Oberlin), Elyounoussi (91. Fransson).
Notes: ZSKA without Vasili Berezutski and Dzagoev (both injured). CB without Vailati and van Wolfswinkel (both injured). Substitutes: Bua, Fransson, Itten, Oberlin, Riveros, Salvi and Serey Die. – Yellow Cards: 73. Natcho (Foul). – 52. Ajeti´s goal was dissallowed due to a foul.