(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
BEFORE THE GAME:
In his first professional fixture for FCB, Ciriaco Sforza played a 4-4-1-1 system with Arthur Cabral up front and Ricky van Wolfswinkel as a hanging striker. A row further back, FCB´s home grown talents came into play with Valentin Stocker, Samuele Campo, Fabian Frei and Afimico Pululu eager to succeed. In defense, new addition Andrea Padula added to Basel´s defensive quality with Silvan Widmer, Eray Cömert and Omar Alderete – infront of keeper Djordje Nikolic.
After the quarter-final against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in August, it was the second time for FCB that a single game in the European Cup would decide on qualification or elimination: There was a lot at stake at the start of this new season.
THE FIRST HALF:
The FCB seemed inspired by the fact that they were playing away from home and with new coach. FCB put on the pressure as soon as the fixture kicked off. Rot-Blau showed off some great passing skills, creating several opportunities. The boys from Basel were rewarded after just 20 minutes of play: The goal scorer Arthur Cabral was at the origin of the opening goal. He launched Afimico Pululu with a wide ball, who passed his opponent, playing the ball to Valentin Stocker. Captain Stocker crossed to Cabral who scored with his head.
THE FIRST HALF WAS VERY STRONG. WE WERE FOCUSED, DYNAMIC AND CONFIDENT ON THE BALL.
Even after the lead, FCB remained dominant and didn't give the Croatians any chances. On the contrary - Rot-Blau created opportunities and shortly before the break, Valentin Stocker made it 2-0. Afimico Pululu passed on Widmer´s long throw-in to Stocker, who powered the ball into the near corner. The lead was deserved.
THE SECOND HALF:
After half-time, FCB could no longer maintain putting on the pressure. The Croatians were better now and had opportunities from the 60th minute onwards. A shot from Petar Bockaj (62nd) just missed the target as well as Vedran Jugovic´s attempt just a little later. In the 79th minute, Djordje Nikolic prevented a subsequent goal by deflecting a Ramón Miérez shot onto the post. Quality save from FCB´s keeper.
WE WILL HAVE TO ANALYZE THE SECOND HALF, THERE ARE THINGS WE HAVE TO IMPROVE.
Five minutes before the end of the fixture Ante Majstorovic scored for the home team, heading the ball past FCB goalkeeper Nikolic. Rot-Blau managed to end the fixture with a 2:1 victory.
AFTER THE GAME:
FCB survived this this knockout round; thanks to a convincing first half. FCB could not maintain a similarly strong performance in the second half, but managed to qualify for the next round of the competition.
WE ALLOWED OUR OPPONENT TO PLAY THEIR GAME IN THE SECOND HALF, BUT THE VICTORY WAS MOST IMPORTANT.
FC Basel have now qualified for the third round of the competition and face Anorthosis Famagusta FC from Cyprus next Thursday. But first, the championship kicks off in Switzerland: FC Vaduz will host this in Basel on Sunday (4 p.m., St. Jakob-Park).
NK Osijek – FC Basel 1893 1:2 (0:2)
Stadium Gradski vrt. – No supporters. – Referee José Luis Munuera Montero (Spain).
Goals: 18. Cabral 0:1 (Stocker). 44. Stocker 0:2 (Pululu). 84. Majstorovic 1:2 (Pilj).
Osijek: Ivusic; Silva, Skoric, Majstorovic, Oliveira; Jugovic, Zaper, Kleinheisler (76. Pilj); Bockaj (81. Grgic), Erceg, Grezda (64. Mierez).
FCB: Nikolic; Widmer, Cömert, Alderete, Padula; Stocker, Campo (85. van der Werff), Frei, Pululu (70. von Moos); van Wolfswinkel; Cabral (63. Ademi).
Notes: FCB without Isufi, Marchand, Petretta, Xhaka and Zuffi (alle injured). Substitutes FCB: Ademi, Bunjaku, Kalulu, Lindner, Riveros, van der Werff and von Moos. – Yellow Cards: 39. Widmer. 49. Cabral 69. Zaper. 75. Silva. 86. Padula. 91. Stocker. 91. Bjelica . – 71. Nikolic with big save, deflecting Mierez´shot onto the post.