(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
Before the game:
Compared to the Sion-fixture, Raphael Wicky opted to revert to a 3-man defence, making some changes to the team. Blas Riveros, Kevin Bua and Albian Ajeti were replaced by Éder Balanta, Raoul Petretta and Dimitri Oberlin. Apart from mentioned changes, FCB´s line-up remained the same to that of the last UEFA Champions League fixture against PFK ZSKA Moscow. One exception, suspended Taulant Xhaka was replaced by Geoffroy Serey.
Due to the fact that the clocks changed to winter time at the end of October, the time difference to Russia is two hours; therefore ZSKA´s fixture against Benfica kicked off at 6pm CET. FCB were not happy to hear the news from Russia that ZSKA Moscow beat Benfica SL 2:0. It was clear before FCB kicked off their fixture that they needed to beat Manchester United FC in order to maintain in 2nd place of Group A.
The first half:
The guests from Manchester were the stronger team in the first half. Towards the end of the 1st half Manchester United FC´s pressure nearly became too much to handle for FCB. Within the last 5 minutes ManU hit the woodwork twice: First Marouane Fellaini´s cross kept on getting longer and longer, hitting the edge of the post. Minutes later Marcos Rojo tried his luck from a distance, but his attempt was deflected onto the crossbar by Marek Suchy´s head.
FCB can consider themselves lucky not to have conceded a goal in the 1st half, 0:0. José Mourinho considered the first 45 minutes to be “the perfect 1st half”: “We should have led by 4 or 5 goals, it seemed like an easy game for us.” The fact that FC Basel did not concede a goal in the 1st half was of great importance, stated Wicky: “We were lucky not to have conceded a goal or two in the first half. This is the reason we felt that this just might be our night; we became braver and suddenly created our chances.”
The second half:
Now FCB were the stronger team but didn’t have much luck on their side. Michael Lang´s header hit the crossbar and Marcos Rojo´s tacke against Steffen within the box did not result in a penalty- maybe Steffen wanted the penalty a little too much.
FCB crated several chances and were close to scoring way before the 89th minute. Then it was Basel´s time to shine; Raoul Petretta crossed the ball into the box, where defender Michael Lang scored, placing the ball into the bottom right corner; victorious. Based on Basel´s performance in the 2nd half, the result was well deserved.
After the game:
FCB secure the second place in Group A´s table, ahead of ZSKA Moscow. The Russians celebrate an early 2:0 victory against Benfica. To qualify for the next round of the competition, FCB need as many points as ZSKA collect against ManU. “We had nothing to lose and felt no weight on our shoulders. I talked about Moscow´s result before the game, focusing on the positive; the fact that we are guaranteed Europa League football in 2018. I wanted to kick of the fixture against ManU on a positive note.” Stated Wicky after the game.
This fixture was one of several memorable games played against Manchester United. After playing each other six times, the results are equal: two wins, two draws and two losses. More importantly the 36´000 fans witnessed yet another historic FCB victory. The current group stage is not yet over, but it´s already fact that FCB have created many more memorable moments and will be playing in a European competition in the new year.
FC Basel 1893 – Manchester United FC 1:0 (0:0)
St. Jakob-Park. – 36‘000 Attendance (sold out stadium). – Referee Daniele Orsato (Italy).
Goals: 89. Lang 1:0 (Petretta).
FCB: Vaclik; Akanji, Suchy, Balanta; Lang, Serey Die (80. Fransson), Zuffi, Petretta; Steffen, Oberlin, Elyounoussi.
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Fellaini, Ander Herrera; Lingard (64. Rashford), Pogba (65. Matic), Martial (74. Ibrahimovic); Lukaku.
Notes: FCB without van Wolfswinkel, Vailati (both injured) and Xhaka (suspended). Manchester United without Bailly, Carrick and Jones (all injured). Substitutes FCB: Ajeti, Bua, Fransson, Itten, Manzambi, Riveros and Salvi. – Yellow Cards: 83. Darmian. – 13. Akanji saves Fellaini´s heador off the line. 41. Martial hit the post. 45. Suchy deflects Rojo´s shot onto the crossbar. 67. Lang´s header hits the crossbar.