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Headquarter of the UEFA
12:19 pm local time
…the two FCBs have been allotted during the draw for the Round of 16 in Nyon. The Swiss FCB, probably the biggest surprise of this year’s Champions League together with APOEL Nicosia, is going to play against his glorious big brother from Germany on the 22nd of February at the St. Jakob-Park and on the 13th of March in the Allianz Arena.
I think that that Bayern is lucky to play against Basel. There have been much trickier opponents to be drawn to, such as AC Milan or the two French clubs Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille. Bayern shouldn’t underestimate the Swiss tho because they’re actually pretty strong. A 3:3 drawn in the Old Trafford and a 2:1 win against ManUtd at home are pretty decent results against such a big team. In the group stage, they had only lost 1 match (0:2 against Benfica), drawn twice and won the residual 3 matches. They had scored 11 goals and conceded 10 of them in 6 matches. In the Swiss championship, the Axpo Super League, the metropolitans are on top of the league, 7 points ahead of the runner-up.
They seem to be a pretty decent team but who are they?
Let’s start with their manager: Heiko Vogel, a 36 years old German, took the team over on 13th of October after he had been Thorsten Fink’s assistant coach for 164 games in Ingolstadt (44 games) and Basel (120 games). First he was caretaker coach but after his win against ManUtd at home, he signed a contract as head coach for the upcoming 3 years.
Before Vogel came to Basel, he had been assistant manager of 4 different coaches in Ingolstadt, among which was also Thorsten Fink with whom Vogel has had a pretty successful time. Vogel joined Ingolstadt in 2007, after he had been one of Bayern’s youth coaches for 9 years, and left in 2009.
He’s coached Basel in 13 matches so far and has an average score of 2,46 points a game what is pretty impressive. He has won 77% of those matches!
Basel’s squad is -of course- the best in Switzerland. The 22 years old Yann Sommer is their first goalkeeper and was goalkeeper and captain of the glorious Swiss U21 who ended up second of the UEFA U21 Football Championship 2011 after they had reached the final without conceding a goal. They lost 0:2 in the final against Spain tho.
In the defense Markus Steinhöfer, Aleksandar Dragovic, David Abraham and Joo-Ho Park are Vogel’s first choice. It’s a pretty young defense (on an average 23.5 years) and thus unexperienced. It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with Mario Gomez, Thomas Müller and Co.
The midfield is pure talent. Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Fabian Frei, Valentin Stocker and Cabral are young and pretty gifted. Especially Shaqiri is desired a lot in Manchester and Munich. Xhaka is said to have been Fink’s favorite player and it’s rumored that he’s going to sign in Hamburg in January. But they don’t only have many talented players but also some very experienced men such as Benjamin Huggel and Scott Chipperfield. Both are already quite old (34 – 35 years old) but they’re still playing regularly.
The forward line with Marco Streller and Alexander Frei is Basel’s showpiece. Both are the forward line of the Swiss national team as well and harmonizing amazingly. Marco Streller, the 30 years old captain has scored 9 goals and given 13 assists in 23 games what isn’t bad at all! Alexander Frei, the 32 years old former Dortmund striker has scored 18 goals and given 7 assists in 23 matches! Both are pretty dangerous but I think that neither Badstuber nor van Buyten or Boateng will have be struggling against them.
Just like Bayern, Basel always has a lot of possession. They know how to calm the game down and keep the ball before creating opportunities. Sometimes they even prefer keeping the ball over making a risky pass into the feet. They immediately try to slow the game down with their passes if their opponents set too high a pace. Their wingers often move into the center what often does confuse the adverse defense. The wingers are also often on the same side what is really successful. Bayern has already done that as well with Robbery.
Their offensive skills seem to be pretty good and so are their defensive ones. They often sit deep to reduce the space and make it difficult to pass behind the defense. Since their back four are standing pretty narrow to each other, they’re often vulnerable to quick breaks down the flanks.
I honestly think that Bayern won’t have bigger problems against Basel if they don’t underestimate them. Ribery, Müller (or Kroos) and Robben will whirl Basel’s defense and create space for Gomez and the full-backs who are necessary to stretch the game since Basel’s defense is pretty narrow. Schweinsteiger will be the great deep-lying playmaker we all know and love and Badstuber and Co. will neutralize Basel’s offense without any problems.
MIA SAN MIA!
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