Manchester Utd travel to Switzerland knowing a win is a must if they are to secure a safe passage to the knock-out round of the Champions League when they face Basel on Wednesday night, kick off 7.45pm.
Having drawn with Basel 3-3 when the sides met at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson will be anxious for a much improved performance from his side as they look to avoid becoming the first Man Utd side not to make the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition since the 2005/6 season.
A 1-0 win against Aston Villa at the weekend may have kept Utd in touch at the top of the Premier League; however it came at a cost as they lost their potent striker Javier Hernandez with what looked like a serious ankle injury.
Hernandez joins Dimitar Berbatov (ankle), Rafael (unspecified) and Fabio (hamstring) along with the suspended Michael Carrick in missing out in what is a crucial game for the Premier League champions.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes that his sides experience will stand them in good stead for what will be a match sure to be played at a fire cracker intensity. Speaking ahead of the game the Scot said “Obviously we will have to rely on the experience we have away from home, a very good record.
“I think there was some complacency in the game [against Basel on match day two] when we went 2-0 up and missed a lot of chances in the first half. Basel had good chances in the first half, too. It was a strange game. Fortunately we managed to wake up late on to get an equaliser which has maybe rescued us in this section.
“These players have been involved in finals, semi-finals, quarter-finals and big games in the Premier League, so we have the experience of playing in big games all of the time. Tomorrow is exactly the same situation: it’s a big game, another one.
Basel, meanwhile, come into the game in good domestic form. A 1-0 win against FC Luzern at the weekend was the ideal preparation for Heiko Vogel’s side and the Basel coach feels that the chance of creating history on Wednesday night is motivation enough for his side, who will give a late fitness test to Benjamin Huggel.
Vogel said “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 – 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.”