St. Jakob-Park, Basel
26th November, 2013; 19:45 BST
Chelsea FC travel to Switzerland to face FC Basel in the their next Champions League group stage encounter at St. Jakob-Park. Both these teams faced each other in the opening match of Group E, and Basel grabbed a surprise 1-2 win in that game. Oscar put the home side ahead with a goal in the first half, but two late strikes from Mohamed Salah and Marco Strellar, who has been in fine form this season, grabbed all three points for Murat Yakin’s side.
This will be the fourth meeting between Chelsea and Basel this year, with both these clubs previously facing each other in the Europa League last season. Chelsea have won two of these three matches, but Basel do have a good record against English sides in the Champions League. The Swiss side are unbeaten in their last four matches against English opponents in this tournament, which includes a memorable win against Manchester United in 2011.
Team news and tactics
Basel have made a fantastic start to their domestic campaign and are currently placed at the top of the Super League with a two-point advantage over second-placed Grasshoppers. Basel are on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions, although they have drawn four of them. In fact Basel have lost only two of their last 28 matches in all competitions. FCB are coming into this game on the back of an emphatic 4-1 victory over Thun.
Basel are currently third in the Group E standings in the Champions League. They are still in contention for a place in the next round and are just a point behind second-placed Schalke. They will be out of contention if Schalke win their fixture against Steaua and Basel loses this game. Murat Yakin’s men will require at least a draw in this fixture to avoid depending on other results. Yakin will perhaps feel that his side lost a great opportunity to pull ahead of Schalke in the last gameweek when they drew at home against Steaua. Conceding that early goal was a big blow, and they had to wait till the 90th minute to score the equalizer.
Murat Yakin will be without Chilean midfielder Marcelo Diaz, who picked up a rib injury during the international break, while Behrang Safari is yet to recover from his thigh injury. Yakin is unlikely to make any changes to the side he fielded against Steaua Bucuresti in their last Champions League game. Marco Strellar, who has scored eight goals in the league this season and was on the score sheet against Thun, will once again be the main threat in attack.
Geoffrey Serey Die and Fabian Frei will form the pivot ahead of the defence and will be crucial in stopping the likes of Oscar from having too much of an influence on the game. Mohamed Salah, who scored in the match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, is a bright young prospect on the wings and he will surely cause the inexperienced Azpilicueta a lot of trouble down that side.
Expected starting line-up: Sommer (GK); Xhaka, Schar, Ivanov, Voser; Die, Frei; Stocker, Delgado, Salah; Streller
Chelsea made a slow start to their domestic campaign under their new manager Jose Mourinho. They had a tough fixture list to deal with as well initially, and Mourinho took time to find his first eleven. But the Blues have been on a good run of form recently and are currently third in the league table – four points behind league leaders Arsenal. The London side have lost only once in their last 13 matches in all competitions and are coming into this game on the back of a convincing 3-0 victory over West Ham away from home. Frank Lampard scored a brace in the match with Oscar adding a third.
Chelsea made a slow start to their European campaign with a shock defeat at home against Basel. But they have recovered well from that early loss and won three matches on the bounce. They are currently top of the points table in Group E, with a three-point advantage over Schalke. Chelsea can secure their place in the next round with just a draw in this game, but Mourinho will look to secure his side’s place at the top of the table in order to ensure a favorable draw in the next round. Chelsea won their last Champions League fixture against Schalke as Samuel Eto’o scored a brace and Demba Ba added a third.
Jose Mourinho has a few injury concerns to contend with ahead of this fixture. Marco van Ginkel is yet to recover from his injury, while David Luiz has a knee injury. The duo has not travelled with the squad to Basel, but Fernando Torres and Ashley Cole have. But neither of them are expected start in this game as both are yet to fully recover from their injuries. Cole is still nursing a rib injury and was an unused substitute against West Ham.
Mourinho is expected to make only one change to the side he fielded against West Ham this weekend. Frank Lampard, who scored a brace in the game, will be rested for this match and will be replaced by Willian in the side. Mourinho started Ramires on the right side of the attacking trio in order to provide more defensive cover for the away trip, but the Brazilian will drop back to his role in the pivot alongside Mikel. Willian will start on the right of the attack alongside Oscar and Hazard.
Expected starting line-up: Cech (GK); Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o
Players to watch-out for: Mohamed Salah (Basel); Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea)
Prediction: Basel 1-1 Chelsea