(Translated by Thomas Snaith)
For the third time within three weeks, a lot is at stake for FC Basel on Thursday night. After the victories in Osijek (2:1) and at home against Anorthosis Famagusta (3:2), the home game against CSKA Sofia is all about taking the last step to achieve the first goal of the season: the group stage of the Europa League.
CSKA SOFIA HAS AN EXPERIENCED TEAM, OFFENSIVE POTENTIAL AND has a solid defense.
As FCB ended the Raiffeisen Super League 2019/2020 season in third place, Rotblau kick started their UEL campaign in the second qualifying round. CSKA Sofia entered the competition a round earlier as they finished their season in second place of the Parva Liga, Bulgaria's top league.
On their way to the play-offs, Sofia eliminated Sirens FC from Malta (2-1), the Belarusians from Bate Borrisow (2-0) and B36 Torshavn (3-1) from the Faroe Islands. Bate Borrisow has probably the most resounding or impressive name of CSKA Sofia's previous opponents. The 15-time Belarusian champion has qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League five times in the last twelve years, has made it to the 1/16 finals of the Europa League on two occasions and is the current leader in their domestic league.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS GAME AND ARE AWARE OF THE QUALITIES OF OUR opponents, BUT WE ALSO HAVE OUR OWN QUALITIES AND ARE WELL PREPARED.
For both FCB and CSKA Sofia their biggest hurdle is lies ahead, before qualifying for the group stage of the Europa League. Eleven years ago, the two clubs faced each other in two professional fixtures, but back then both teams had already qualified for the group stage and were fighting in Group E with AS Roma and Fulham FC for the next stage of the competition . In the end, both teams failed to qualify for the next round; FCB ended up in third place with nine points and played more convincing football than the Bulgarians, who ended their group stage campaign with a single point. Rotblau won both direct encounters - 2-0 away and 3-1 at home.
WE HAVE TO TRY TO KEEP SPACES TIGHT, SO THAT CSKA SOFIA CAN´T PLAY THEIR GAME. IN ORDER TO DO THIS WE HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER AS a TEAM.
Of course, nothing can be bought from the success achieved eleven years ago. After the two and respectively three knockout rounds that the two clubs had to survive in order to play this play-off fixture, FCB and CSKA Sofia are just 90 or 120 minutes away from group stage qualification. The injured players Elis Iufi, Yannick Marchand, Raoul Petretta and Taulant Xhaka will still be missing for this final “final game”.