(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
before the game:
As in previous European fixtures, Raphael Wick chose to play a 3-4-3 formation. Silvan Widmer, FCBs newly signed right back was ill and was replaced by Paoul Petretta. On the left it was Blas Riveros who worked his magic. Éder Balanta who is back from injury, defended behind the Paraguayan and next to Fabian Frei and captain Marek Suchy. Central midfield was looked after by Geoffroy Serey Die and Luca Zuffi. Dimitri Oberlin, Albian Ajeti and Valentin Stocker were responsible for FCB´s offensive qualities.
In the Toumba-Stadium, the heat was immense and the atmosphere was incredible, even one hour before kick-off. The Greek fans were singing their hearts out as soon as their team started to warm up before the game. There was a minute of silence for the victims of the recent fires in Greece just before the 90 minutes of football began.
The first half:
The game kicked off patiently, both teams not willing to risk too much in the early stages of the fixture. FCB created their first chance in the 12th minute: Valentin Stocker failed to strike the ball correctly from a goal scoring position.
The longer the game lasted the more control the home team gathered. The first big chance was created after 20 minutes of play; Fernando Varelas´s header was nearly successful, after a well hit corner kick. Ten minutes later, PAOK scored! José Cañas striked the ball from a distance, scoring an amazing goal, into the top right corner.
As if the task of facing PAOK in Greece wasn’t difficult enough, Raoul Petretta (our right back) suffered an injury and had to be replaced by a young talent, Yves Kaiser. This was Kaiser´s 1st fixture at the highest level. “ I had Kevin Bua on the bench; choosing him would have been more of an offensive option. I didn’t want to take that option, during a 1st leg fixture, losing 0:1. I decided to go for Kaiser, because he has been training with us for a long time now and because I know him from his days in FCB´s reserves team. He always played calmly and today he did a great job.”, stated FCB coach Wicky. Petretta´s injury status? “ He is in a lot of pain. I don´t have any further information of his injury.“
The last chance of the 1st half belonged to the visiting team. In added time, Serey Die launched Ajeti, who´s shot landed behind the goal.
The second half:
After the 2nd half kicked off, there was not much action. Kaiser´s deflected cross (56) hit the outside netting, causing hectic in front of PAOK´s goal. After Kaiser´s chance, there weren’t many opportunities for both sides, but the home team continuously became stronger. PAOK was rewarded in the 80th minute; Aleksandar Prijovic scored via half volley, 2:0. FCB did their best to get back into the game and scored just minutes later. Ajeti´s goal (cross by Stocker) turned a terrible result into a realistic opportunity of qualifying for the next round. Final score 1:2.
After the game:
Wicky was not a happy man, as his team lost. „We should have scored first, and just after the break we had yet another great opportunity to score. It was evident that we were not going to create dozens of chances but I believed that we would come back after trailing 0:2 behind.” Ajeti stepped into action, keeping Basel´s chances intact for the return leg. “ I know we have a 50 / 50 chance of qualifying. It was important for us to score an away goal”, stated Wicky. The away goal gives FCB hope, to qualify. A victory is needed to qualify for the 3rd UCL qualification round.
PAOK FC – FC Basel 1893 2:1 (1:0)
Toumba-Stadium. – 27’000 Supporters. – Referee Robert Madley (England).
Goals: 32. Cañas 1:0. 80. Prijovic 2:0 (Pelkas). 82. Ajeti 2:1 (Stocker).
PAOK: Paschalakis; Léo Matos, Varela, Crespo, Vierinha; Cañas, Maurício; Léo Jabá (72. El Kaddouri), Pelkas, Limnios (92. Shakov); Prijovic (82. Warda).
FCB: Omlin; Suchy, Frei, Balanta; Petretta (44. Kaiser), Serey Die, Zuffi, Riveros; Stocker, Ajeti (93. Bua), Oberlin (62. Kalulu).
Notes: FCB without Antonio, Campo, Kuzmanovic, Xhaka (all injured) und Widmer (illness). Substitutes FCB: Bua, Cümart, Hansen, Huser, Kaiser, Kalulu, van Wolfswinkel. – Yellow Cards: 35. Serey Die. 69. Stocker. 75. Frei. – Minute of silence before kick-off for the victims of recent forest fires in Greece