(Translated by Thomas Snatih)
On Wednesday, 07. March 7, 2018, FCB´s UEFA Champions League campaign 2017/2018 will most likely end where it started (on 12. September 2017) – in Manchester. It all kicked off with the opening game of FCB´s group stage campaign at Old Trafford, against Manchester United FC. Now FC Basel 1893 have returned to Manchester to face Manchester City FC. After losing 0:4 against the Citizens in Switzerland, Basel´s chances of qualification have diminished.
Based on the result of the first leg fixture, FCB coach Raphael Wicky has set new goals for his team. Qualifying for the next round is not priority: “I have told my team that it is something extremely special to play in this stage of the competition and that we worked extremely hard to get here. It would not be realistic to be speak about quarter final qualification after losing 0:4 in the first leg. We need to forget about the fixture we played against ManCity in Basel and focus on the game ahead. The 90 minutes start with 0:0. We want to use this fixture to get back into our rhythm since two of our fixtures were postponed/cancelled in recent weeks.”
Manchester City FC break record for number of passes
Not only the result of the first leg fixture creates a massive challenge for FCB but also their opponent. Wicky considers Manchester City FC as one of the top two teams in the world. ManCity´s results in recent months support Wicky´s opinion. Since FCB played Manchester City FC at St. Jakob-Park, the PL leaders where kicked out of the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic FC. On the other hand, the Citizens beat Arsenal twice, winning the League Cup and beat Chelsea FC 1:0. Pep Guardiola´s team also managed to break the record of most passes played in one fixture (against Chelsea FC); a total of 902 passes.
Manchester City currently lead the Premier League table by 16 points ahead of Manchester United. Ricky van Wolfswinkel let us know what he thinks: “We knew that we might concede several goals against ManCity-against such a strong side, but tomorrow is a new day and the game starts from scratch.” The players can hardly wait, especially since two of their fixtures were recently cancelled.
Balanta and Campo missing
FCB will not be lacking motivation on Wednesday night. Basel´s 2nd away fixture in Manchester is all about ending their very impressive European campaign on a positive note, a celebration of their UCL success. Not to forget; FCB exceeded their UCL expectations in 2017/2018. It will be a very difficult challenge, not only because Manchester City is currently one of the strongest teams in the world, but also because the Citizens are in top form.
Basel hope for a surprise on Wednesday night, even though it will be difficult to qualify for the next stage of the UEFA Champions League. This season FCB have surprised on many occasion. Raphael Wicky will not be able to count on injured Éder Balanta and Samuele Campo, who is not listed to play in European competition.