FC Basel captain, Marco Streller, has accused Manchester United of taking his side lightly ahead of the final, and crucial, Champions League Group C tie on Wednesday night. The striker says that United took the foot off the gas in the opening clash between these sides in September, with the Reds leading 2-0 in the tie at Old Trafford before the match ended 3-3. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side was thankful for a late Ashley Young goal to secure a point.
United must get at least a draw from tonight’s match at St Jakob-Park to qualify for the knock out stages of the competition. And Switzerland international Streller says that the pressure is on United. Defeat in Switzerland would send Ferguson’s side out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since 2005.
“At 2-0, it seemed to me they didn’t take us seriously,” said Streller.
“But after that, I know they will not underestimate us again. They will take us seriously tomorrow because now they know we are a good team. We have proved it already. The pressure is bigger for them. In 99% of the games they play, Manchester United are the favourites. They probably have 30 internationals in their squad and although Javier HernÃ¡ndez and Dimitar Berbatov are not here, they still have Danny Welbeck to come in. I am sure they can cope with the pressure but maybe there is one or two per cent in the back of our minds that can make it an advantage for us.”
Streller’s analysis brooked no rebuked from Ferguson, who has blamed United’s “casualness” for the draw at Old Trafford in September – a point that, with some irony, may just have saved the Reds place in this season’s competition.
But the Scot will be without a plethora of key players for the clash at the atmospheric 38,000 capacity St Jakob-Park. In addition to strikers Dimitar Berbatov, Javier HernÃ¡ndez and Michael Owen, United also travelled without the da Silva brothers, Tom Cleverley, and the suspended Michael Carrick. However, Rio Ferdinand is fit despite being substituted against Aston Villa at the weekend.
Despite the absentees, Ferguson says his side has the experience,Â and the record away from home in Europe, to pass what is likely to be a stern test of United’s credentials in this season’s competition. However, the Scot dismissed any notion that key striker Wayne Rooney’s mind will be elsewhere, with the England man set to hear his Euro 2012 fate at UEFA’s HQ in Nyon later this week.
“We’ve played a lot of big games,” said Ferguson.
“Tomorrow is another. People say we’re not doing well but we’re second in the league and we can qualify for the last 16. Injuries haven’t helped but we have a strong squad and the squad will see us through. We need to make sure we try and control the game as we did at Aston Villa. It’ll be a fantastic atmosphere but we’ve had a good record away from home in the last few years and that helps us. Hopefully, it applies itself tomorrow.
“There was nothing wrong with our tactics in the first game [the 3-3 draw]. It was the complacency as we got wasteful with our chances. We showed a lack of discipline in the second half and it cost us an extra two points. But we did our job against Otelul Galati, did well at Benfica and were unlucky at home to Benfica when we should have won.
“I don’t think that kind of pressure affects us. If you look at the number of games these players play in, they are involved year in and year out in semi-finals, finals and quarter-finals and tomorrow is that type of situation. It is another big game and a hard one. We have to rely on our experience in the last few years away from home.”
The United manager has a delicate balancing act in midfield though, with in-form Carrick sidelined through suspension. Darren Fletcher is fit to come into the side, and Ferguson is likely to choose between Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs to partner the Scotsman, while perennial Champions League performer Park Ji-Sung is vying for a place on the wing. The boss will choose between fit again Danny Welbeck to partner Wayne Rooney in attack, a five-man midfield, or moving Young inside.
Meanwhile, Basel will be without key player Benjamin Huggel for the tie, which the Swiss champions must win in order to progress. However, Valentin Stocker did feature against Luzern at the weekend, his first appearance since April because of a knee ligament injury.
Vogel’s side comes into the match in fine form after securing a ninth successive league victory at the weekend – a match in which Streller scored his third goal in as many appearances. The team has now won 15 of the last 19 games in all competitions.
“He’s one of the greatest managers ever but this match isn’t about me against Ferguson. It’s about United against Basel and everything has to be right for us to achieve what we want,” added Basel coach Heiko Vogel.
“I think everyone, not just in this city but across Swiss football, is looking forward to this game. For us it’s a great climax to a successful year â€“ I hope we can pull off the big coup. Everybody can feel the level of anticipation, but the mood with me and my team is of the necessary relaxation. We are focused.
“Man U are one of the strongest teams in the world and the fact they were in the final last year against, in my opinion, the strongest team in the world, speaks volumes. For me Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the all-time greats and he is unique in being at one club and enjoying success for such a long time; it’s extraordinary.”
During the long career Ferguson’s side has only twice lost out in the group stages of the Champions League – in 1994/5 and then in the 2005/6 competition. The Scot is adamant that a repeat is not on the cards on Wednesday night.
FC Basel v Manchester United, St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Wednesday 7 December 2011, 7.45pm
Basel (4-4-2):Â Sommer;Â SteinhÃ¶fer,Â Dragovic,Â Abraham, Park; F Frei, Cabral, Xhaka, Zoua; A Frei, Streller. Subs from:Â Ajeti, SchÃ¼rpf,Yapi, Chipperfield, Stocker, Voser, Xhaka, Herzog, Kusunga, Colomba,Â Buess, Andrist, Kovac, Tembo, Wieser, Kwang-Ryong.
United (4-4-4-1): de Gea; Smalling,Â Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Giggs, Park; Young; Rooney. Subs from: Lindegaard, Amos, Fryers, Pogba, Jones, Nani, Valencia, Diouf, Welbeck, Macheda.
Referee: BjÃ¶rn Kuipers (NED)
Assistant referees: Sander van Roekel, Erwin Zeinstra
Additional assistant referees: Bas Nijhuis, Richard Liesveld
Basel cranks up pressure ahead of euro tie(293 posts) (26 voices)
Posted by unregistered user: Alfredb (URL)
Do the Da Silva twins ever play a complete game? Are they been paid to collapse on the pitch at the slightest contact, most of which they initiate? Their United record is pathetic. Fergie should clean the squad out. How many City players ever get injured?
Posted by unregistered user: Gopher Brown
Yeah, but knowing our record of selling youngsters in recent times, we’ll sell them to Milan and in a years time they will both look like Roberto Carlos and never miss a game again until their 38.
They do miss a lot of games, but they are only 21 and have plenty of time to become stronger. The problem is that we could bring in a right-back, but it would stand in the way of their future. Playing Jones and Smalling at right-back isn’t a good solution.
Still, I don’t understand why we keep players like Ritchie De Laet or Marnick Vermijl on the books if they aren’t deemed good enough to fill in when we have right-back problems.
Posted by unregistered user: abhidazzler
At times I feel united should get knocked out of UCL!…may be an early exit is the only thing that might force united to spend on their central midfield…fergie has been gambling on his midfield for far too long
Ooh, I don't like your lineup at all; Park sucks on the wing. Put him inside - Giggs can come on as a substitute, if needed, Young on the left, and Welbeck up top for me.
Rob – as always it’s a guess at what I think the line-up will be, rather than my personal choice. Thinking being I’m not sure Ferguson will trust Welbeck to hold up the ball away from home, he often deploys Park in big games, and without Hernandez he’ll go safety first and play Rooney on his own. Park will tuck inside to make a three man midfield, with Nani the outlet ball. I almost never get this right thoughEditor & Moderator at http://www.unitedrant.co.uk
Benfica will top the group and we will have only ourselves to blame. Basel will be a tough game. They have good young players and have won 15 of the last 19 games or something like that.
strong enough team to win at ease, the weather is terrible there though. wont help
This is one of those situations that all teams find themselves in now and then... back to the wall... must perform.
And the best teams prove why they're the best teams.
If we can't win... then we don't deserve to go any further...
And if we do lose, and go out... even by some shitty ref decisions... Ferguson has no one to blame but himself and the team... we never should have been in this position in the first place..."Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don't need badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrÃ³n and ching' tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you."
Phil Jones is doing a lot of press, int he
Pissing me off a bit to be honest
i think we will win but looking forward to watching our inept midfield in action again , watch Carrick hide from his team mates and shirk all responsibility ......... awesome to watch..The real troubles in life are apt to the things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle tuesday.
taggart being positive as ever with that lineupLKHM
3-1 united is the bet and 4 draws city hull napoli ajax
Solid at the back, first choice striker and wings, and a decent three-man midfield, who will, at least, look after their defensive duties; a draw at least I should think. If FC Basel aren't too physical, Park Ji-Sung may even prove useful to the attack.
a win would be expected and achieved im sure
1 defeat away in 4 years speaks volumes
fuck the swiss yodlers
great.just fuckin great
fuck me.. another injury prob too... fuck fuck fuck
that was a load of bollox
smalling was down injured
that cunt ref should have stopped play
Head injury too - he was dazed and cut
But it doesn't excuse the shit defending
May this be Giggsy's last season.
We're going out and im not even that assed!!The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.....
was a goal.. cant deny it
we are shite cant deny it either
How good is shaqiri? Fuck me.
Giggs is finished.
They are shit
So's the pitch
Nani is shite as is young.
These teams must have faced each other in a scene akin to the film, cool runnings. The swiss mocking the jamaicans. Us being the jamaicans here.
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