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Manchester United Fixtures

United Visit Basel for Crunch Champions League Clash

When you think of Manchester United and crucial Champions League games, you normally think of the knockout rounds, right? That is indeed usually the case, but tonight, United are in Switzerland to face Basel, with the knowledge that defeat will send them crashing out of the competition and into the Europa League. There’s no pressure there, no pressure at all…

RECENT HISTORY

Part of the reason tonight’s tie is so important is because of how things transpired when these two met at Old Trafford in September.

United led 2-0 inside the first 20 minutes thanks to two goals in two minutes by Danny Welbeck. Game over, right? Not quite. Basel pulled one back in the 58th minute through Fabian Frei, and on the hour mark, they were level through Alexander Frei.

Then the unthinkable happened, as United conceded a penalty, and the latter Frei slotted it home to give Basel a shock 76th-minute lead. However, they were not to leave Old Trafford with a stunning victory, as Ashley Young equalized in the 90th minute to at least somewhat spare United’s blushes.

TEAM ANALYSIS

FC Basel

1. Basel started their season with a 1-3-2 mark in their first six league matches, but they’re 10-1-0 in their last 11 league matches, and they’re 16-2-1 in their last 19 matches in all competitions, with the lone defeat being a 2-0 home defeat against likely Group C winner Benfica in October.

Currently, Basel are on a seven-match win streak in the league and are unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions since the defeat to Benfica, and they‘re six points clear of Luzern at the top of the Swiss Super League table.

2. Basel are led in scoring by Alexander Frei, who’s still banging them in with ease at 32. Frei has 11 league goals in 16 matches, four in four Champions League matches, and two in two Swiss Cup matches.

3. Basel earned their draw at Old Trafford without teenage star – and reported United target – Xherdan Shaqiri, who was suspended for the match. But he’ll be in the lineup tonight, and he’s someone United’s defense will have to keep a close eye on from start to finish.

Manchester United

1. United are unbeaten in their last eight Champions League away matches since a 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in a quarterfinal tie in April 2009.

And United haven’t lost a Champions League group game since a 1-0 defeat at Celtic in November 2006. Since then, United are 10-4-0 away from home in the group stage.

2. United’s home draws against Basel and Benfica can be partly attributed to the absence of Nemanja Vidic, who missed the draw against Basel through injury and the draw against Benfica through suspension. But he’ll be manning the middle tonight, and that should translate into a strong defensive performance for United.

Due to injury (and to the two-match Champions League suspension), Vidic has made only seven league appearances and one Champions League appearance for United this season. In those eight matches, United have surrendered only two goals. One was a very, very soft goal at West Brom, on a shot that should have been dealt with by David de Gea, and the other was via the penalty that wasn’t against Newcastle.

3. United won’t be settling for a 0-0 draw tonight, you can be sure of that, but whoever’s creating and taking chances tonight needs to finish the night upright, because forward options have been dropping like flies.

Michael Owen was already set to be out until at least Christmas, but United are now without Javier Hernandez for the next month after he suffered an ankle injury at Aston Villa on Saturday, and Dimitar Berbatov didn’t make the trip to Switzerland due to an ankle knock. Speaking of knocks, it’d be wise to knock on some wood right now, because United can ill-afford anymore bad luck on the injury front.

PREDICTION

Tonight won’t be easy, but these are the kinds of situations United thrive in.

No score prediction again, but all signs point to United being able to get at least the minimum result required. That being said, a win would be ideal, as it’d give United a chance to win the group if Benfica fail to win at home against Otelul Galati, and to produce a quality performance to earn a crucial result would be a fantastic way to close what hasn‘t been the best of group stages for United.

116 Comments

116 Comments

  1. fahime shuhaime

    7 December 2011 at 21:49

    Hopefully, the gaffer will stick to the team he got right now. No need to buy any players because we have a good team here and there’s no value in the market! We can rely on the players like Giggs, Park, Evans, Evra and of course Gibson. There’s nothing wrong with Man Utd team here. Actually, we need to keep on losing in order to wake-up SAF. I believe the excuse will be “we were lil bit unfortunate because some of our key-players got injured.” It’s hard to swallow but how SAF will react to this wake-up call is far more important. 😐

  2. colver

    7 December 2011 at 21:56

    Yeah if we have to play Europe league we may as well use it to fast track our youngsters and give them some European experience. Very humiliating. City at least had a difficult group and to their credit beat Bayern. The only team we were able to beat was the Romanian team whose name escapes me!

    We conceded eight goals in six games. That is worrying and the main reason we didn’t go through. Tonight we can only rue our missed chances but really this game shouldn’t have been a decider. We should have already qualified.

    At least now we are out of the Champions League there is no excuse for not dipping into the transfer market in January. Who cares if the players we want our cup-tied? Better we buy them now and bed them in so we can make a strong start to next season.

    • Eddie Griffin

      7 December 2011 at 22:04

      Yeah, no excuse to not spend. Considering the hit we’re going to take from not having the kind of Champions League money we normally do, the Glazers might as well open up the coffers in January and make the kind of additions that can win the league and go deep in/win the Europa and FA Cup so that their bottom line (their main concern, I imagine) doesn’t look too bad at the end of the season.

    • gator

      7 December 2011 at 22:22

      yes i want to see more of the kids in mf would rather watch morrison and pogba get games than try to rely on gigs and park. just not getting it done.

      we need a fresh face in mf too someone to step the level up and be on the team sheet every match. we have too many at the same level…below par. 😥

    • fahime shuhaime

      7 December 2011 at 23:02

      My personal opinion, the root of the problem is we don’t have established and world class midfielder. To solve the problem is just buy at least one experienced, established and world class midfielder. As simple as that! We are talking about this for quite sometimes now.

  3. Darth Red Diablo

    7 December 2011 at 22:01

    Wow

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      7 December 2011 at 22:15

      Mom

  4. Craig Mc

    7 December 2011 at 22:06

    More important than how SAF will react is how will United fans react. This will certainly sort out the true United fans from the VISITORS who turn up to support a winning side. It is how the supporters rally that matters – and from what I know of Manc red supporters they really are red til I die, and we will see who stays with the team until the lights go out. I will be there and so will most of the Salford reds. No matter how low we feel, I want to show my support more than ever and roar until I am hoarse on the terraces. We need to make even more noise than our neighbours at this time of adversity. I am noted for having a right go at players and performances, but after tonight I don’t think we need to go on a barrage because every player who cares will know and feel fookin awful just like we all do. You are not a real supporter if you only stay for the glory times, you are a real supporter when you rally at times like this – maybe a barren season who knows – but hope it won’t be barren support from the terraces and from United fans anywhere! That’s all I got to say. RALLY round or desert a seemingly sinking ship – which are you – rally-er or deserter?

  5. Traverse

    7 December 2011 at 22:13

    At least the Europa League will mean we get to see Morrison and Pogba play some games!

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      7 December 2011 at 22:15

      That would make sense, but….

    • Moscow is my heaven

      7 December 2011 at 22:18

      Hooray

    • tonymontanna4united

      7 December 2011 at 22:20

      More likely the return of the mighty diouf and gibson.

  6. Craig Mc

    7 December 2011 at 22:15

    I know the none United fans and haters will be giving it large to all United fans – but my answer will be – errr 3 CL final in 4 years – no mean feat – and 18 Domestic champions trophies and counting – now tell me what is your club record?

    • rsg

      7 December 2011 at 22:28

      I understand this, and we’ll be getting a lot of stick. But amongst United fans it’s important to always look forward and not get stuck in past success and start sounding like Liverpool. I care less about our last CL final and more about our next one.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      7 December 2011 at 23:26

      errrr… #19!

      • Craig Mc

        7 December 2011 at 23:53

        Oops – 😆 😆 😆 – sorry opti that was typo – I hit key 8 instead of 9 – that will teach me to read my posts thru again before posting 😀

    • Traverse

      7 December 2011 at 23:53

      If there’s one thing we know at this club is that history is great but the present is now and more important. Making history now. To not qualify from the easiest group is disgusting for Manchester United.

      It’s Fergies fault. From listening to him in the post match he knows it. He sounded devastated. He knows we were one player short of avoiding this failure. £25k a week was the quabble with Sneijder. Looks real worth it right now.

  7. Traverse

    7 December 2011 at 22:15

    City have spent £1bn over 3 years. It’s disgraceful they didnt go through. Imagine if we’d have spent even half of that!?

  8. [OPTI]Madschester United

    7 December 2011 at 22:16

    At least I still have humor:

    “Just heard that the Manchester clubs are jointly releasing a fragrance for Christmas: Channel No.5.”

    When in doubt, crack a smile.

  9. rsg

    7 December 2011 at 22:16

    This is not knee jerk reaction, but things have got to change. They have needed changing for a long time now but we can only hope that Fergie realises this and finally reacts.

    Our sucess in PL and CL(reaching finals) has constantly been used as an excuse for making changes and IMPROVEMENTS, this excuse is no longer applicable. This team has been allowed to get staler and staler.

    Thank God we were not drawn in City’s group. They managed to get 10 points in that group whilst we only managed to get 9 amongst world beaters Basel and Otelul bloody Galati.

    This Man Utd team cannot be relied to perform in clutch situations but even more than that it’s not just this sole game that needs to be looked at but this whole damn group stage performance. Excuses like injuries can not be used to hide the performance throughout this group stage, which should have been a cakewalk.

    • Craig Mc

      7 December 2011 at 22:19

      I wish we had been drawn in City’s group instead of them, because we always seem to underestimate the lesser teams, but do well against the top teams.

  10. Craig Mc

    7 December 2011 at 22:17

    To all United supporters who have followed the team in all CL away games this season, and in Switzerland tonight – well done lads, proud of you!

  11. tonymontanna4united

    7 December 2011 at 22:18

    Well, you get what you deserve, and quite frankly we deserved sod all.
    People going on, putting it all on the youngsters shoulders, oh its all to do with jones, smalling, fergie trusting too many of the young lads blah blah blah.
    Horse shit. Rio, vidic, evra, park, giggs, nani, rooney, all with shit loads of experience, all been there and seen it all before, and we’re making out its because fergies shown too much faith in the kids 🙄
    Its time to face facts, all the 1-0s in the world dont paper over the cracks here, cracks that come from the bloody top all the way down.
    So many fans being painted as doom and gloomers, no nothing spoilt glory hunters, who have no right to dare question the great man and his team. Well there you go, today, the 2 games barca tore us to shreds, the 3 months now of utter dross, as well as literally dozens of below par performances home and away, in europe, domestically, the last 2 odd years? Maybe we had a point.
    Maybe we shouldnt go as far as to say its the end of an era, but its a bloody big wake up call.
    Whether fergie opens his eyes to it though, or merely shrugs his shoulders and dismisses it as a one off, well we shall see.

    • Moscow is my heaven

      7 December 2011 at 22:29

      Doom and gloom is no more Tony. There is only the truth now.

  12. [OPTI]Madschester United

    7 December 2011 at 22:20

    So sad: “The World’s Most Profitable Club”® is counting pennies in the transfer-window…

  13. Moscow is my heaven

    7 December 2011 at 22:23

    Anyone remember this?

    Your arrogance has cost you dearly old man. This sort of delusion is end of an era stuff.

  14. Moscow is my heaven

    7 December 2011 at 22:26

    Nothing from Fergie or the players. Absolutely nothing. Cowardice 😡

    Roy Keane speaks out. Deja vu.

    • tonymontanna4united

      7 December 2011 at 22:44

      I seem to remember after crashing out in 2005, fergie coming out with a defiant “we’ll be back” to the rest of the world.
      Today nothing. Poor stuff, the fans who made the trip, aswell as the millions of fans worldwide deserved an apology for that simply shocking display, from fergie or phelan at the least. But nothing.
      Nice to see were high up on their list of priorities.

      • Moscow is my heaven

        7 December 2011 at 23:04

        Respect is earned Tony mate, and I do not give respect to those who do not give it back and are prepared to lie and insult me.

        I feel only sympathy for our brave away fans making their way back from Switzerland.

      • Craig Mc

        7 December 2011 at 23:18

        It wasn’t a shocking display Tony – for most of the game we had the greater proportion of possession. We just couldn’t capitalise on our chances which has been biggest problem in last few games. I know I have a right go at Rooney quite a lot because his performances have only been average – but tonight I saw how despondent he is. It reminded me of how Rooney played when he had players like Ronnie and Tevez around him – you could guarantee he would play with those players and he got good share of goals. Perhaps he is the kind of player who knows he needs other top class strikers around him, so that he doesn’t feel responsible for having to get the goals. Maybe that is why he said to the Glazers I will leave if you don’t bring in top class players – and they promised him they would – but they haven’t come good on that promise I don’t think. Rooney has shown with England in the big tournaments that the pressure heaped upon him to be the main player – he couldn’t cope with. He seems to need other class players to share the burden with. Chicharito is a goal scorer but he is also a player who doesn’t get stressed – he seems relaxed, but Rooney isn’t of that temperament. Listen this may not be popular, but I don’t know why we bought Ashley Young – because Rooney loved playing alongside Valencia who made good assists for him. We had Nani and Valencia and needed to strengthen MF so why Young – I just don’t understand the thought behind his buy? I think if we can get a top class striker along with Chicharito and Rooney – then Rooney will up his game because the pressure is off of him alone. Shame that Vidic is badly injured too because the defence was doing so good since he came back.

        • tonymontanna4united

          7 December 2011 at 23:44

          I wouldnt say that we created too many clear cut chances though craig, just a few scraps here and there on the whole in the first half apart from the absolute sitter wayne missed, we did very little else.
          2nd half, nothing too much. And thats the point. Before the game people were talking about this being a tough game that could be a potential banana skin.
          A tough game, a team like basle we should be fooking turning over 2 or 3-0. End of.
          The fact is, apart from a scrappy goal we created very few genuine chances against a team 3 years ago we’d have beaten comfortably.
          Says it all for me.
          As for rooney, well, i just dont fucking get the guy. Moments of brilliance, spells of form where he looks like hes on for a 30 goals, and then the inevitable run of bad form comes around.
          I love the guy, and think when hes on form hes as good as anyone (apart from messi and ronaldo) but christ, when hes like this he just really gets to me.
          Think he needs to finally find a settled position, whether that is as the lone front man, behind the front man, in midfield etc, but im not going to use that as an excuse for this pathetic loss of form.
          He like many others, needs a big hard kick up the ass. Should have been done weeks away but there you go.

  15. Craig Mc

    7 December 2011 at 22:31

    Yes the disgruntled do have a point, but we have made our voices heard for a long time – and I don’t intend to rub any more salt in the wounds Tony mi man. I am sad – but now we will at least see a re-build and Fergie will assess and decide if he is going to do the re-build or if he feels he doesn’t. But Fergie has always said he would not leave his beloved Man Utd in a poor state – I believe him. What is amazing me is that moneybags City have gone out too – yet ITV etc only reporting and making a big deal about Man Utd exit. So that tells me who is still considered the biggest, most important club in Manchester – hardly a wimper so far about the City exit!

    • Moscow is my heaven

      7 December 2011 at 22:33

      The difference is Craig that City went out to Bayern Munich and Napoli in their debut CL season.

      We, the proud 19 time league champions, 3 time winners, 3 time finalists in the past 4 years, have been trumped by the mighty Benfica and Basel!

      This is pure humiliation.

    • tonymontanna4united

      7 December 2011 at 23:01

      Well i hope your right craigy mate, but i get the feeling we’ll still be hearing alot more “no value”, “team is fine”, “nobody good enough” calls over the next few months. The glazers havent exactly been forthcoming with stumping up major cash have they, and fergie seems to have overlooked the midfield for 4 years now without making changes.
      But judging by the voting poll on the other thread, that’ll be just fine with the majaority of the fans, as most believe the money is there, but the right players just arent available 😯 🙄

    • rsg

      7 December 2011 at 23:11

      Yep, it’s stick or twist for Fergie in terms of the next steps he takes and I’m not sure which way he’ll go. I used to have much more confidence in the Fergie of old who had much more energy and aggression. He would not give an inch and asked the difficult questions of his players on the pitch when they didn’t perform. Lets hope the old man can turn things around once again, for possibly the last time.

      In terms of legacy he leaves/leaving Man Utd in a good state for the next manager, Fergie has already got this box ticked really. To fergie this means a nucleus of mainly young players who are getting more and more experience and the emergence of any youth players so the team is not unsettled after he is gone and needs a complete overhaul. I believe he has got this with a team consisting of Jones, Smalling, Da Silva twins, De Gea, Cleverly, Hernandez, Welbeck, Lindegaard, Morrison, Pogba etc and of course the established members Nani, Rooney, Vida etc.

      He needs to make changes for the now, moving on the deadwood and surplus members of the squad, bringing in quality that can make the difference immediately. I am not sure if has the energy and aggression to do this, honestly he is more of a softy now, and is loyal and tolerant of players beyond what he used to allow slip.

    • Fred the Red

      7 December 2011 at 23:31

      Is any one surprised with tonights result? I certainly wasnt. United have been mediocre for weeks now. Whether we like it or not, the team is in transition. They did not play poorly tonight, they played at thier current level, unfortunately that level is simply not good enough. Personally I dont really care if United win a single trophy this season, as long as they finish in the top four and are showing signs of progressing. Any thing else is a bonus. Two world class central midfield players are urgently required. Get that sorted and the transition will be greatly advanced. A new Keane or Robson is not required, but a new Gotze, Modric, Sniejder or Ericksen is. The modern game has changed and at least one or even two of your central players must be good ball players. And 4 4 2 also is from a bygone era.SAF has some careful planning to do, lets see what he does.

  16. Jay wire

    7 December 2011 at 22:46

    if we had drawn this match, I would have personally gone to UEFA to contest, our qualification. We got exactly what we deserved. I have never seen such in my life. This is horrible. I’m not angry that we lost, because quite frankly, we’ve been tainting the image of the Champions League this season in particular. Jones and Giggs in midfield. Ha ha ha. What a joke? I’m not really sure why people don’t see just how much of a liability Jones is in midfield. It’s actually a wonder. He’s all over the place. I couldn’t believe what was happening right before my eyes. Gigantic holes in midfield.

    Giggs is a good reflection of why Sneijder will never work under a coach like Mike Phelan. But I have to say, Sneijder at least bothers to defend, though he sucks at it. So a Giggs and Jones midfield is not asking for trouble, it’s forcefully demanding it. Not that I expected anything else. We should have rather played Giggs behind Rooney and Park in midfield. Jones and Park is still a very bad combo, but it’s better than Jones and Giggs.

    Still, even then and with Jones’ apparent lack of discipline, he should have been played deep in front of the defence, screening. Because whilst I may bash him as a midfielder, he is clearly not being given instructions to play a disciplined defensive role. That’s actually how he played at Blackburn. But alas, the holding role was abolished by our world renowned technical clowns, back in February.

    Oh my gosh, what further nonsense do they have in store for us?

    • RedDevilEddy

      7 December 2011 at 23:13

      Park playing as a holding striker with us hammering crosses in against a centre back pairing with a combined height of 1,89 m is an artform of idiocy! 🙄

  17. colver

    7 December 2011 at 23:31

    I’m not sure we will see a rebuilding. We blew £60 million in the summer. Personally I think if we had bought a central midfielder instead of Young we would have done a lot better. I hardly imagine with our Champions League revenue gone we will be able to buy more than single player in the summer. And I really don’t think that will be enough.

    As tony points out we have too many mediocre players and not enough star quality.

    Tonight was a great example. Young, Park, Giggs, even Rooney were completely clueless and too easy to defend against for a disciplined Swiss side. Nani was the only player who showed any sort of offensive threat and even then he was frustrated as he was crossing into a box where Rooney was dwarfed by huge Swiss defenders.

    Absentees such as Fletcher, Carrick (with the exception of a fine game in the second tie against Benfica) and Anderson hardly acquitted themselves better in previous games. While Hernandez looked very lightweight in Europe with his ball control very worrying and uncharacteristically wasteful.

    The real problem I see is that we seem to have regressed into a 90s team. We play some good football in the league at times, but in Europe we look positively naive and clueless.

    We have lots of hard-working players but we are in desperate need of some technically gifted, intelligent players.

    The only players in our squad possessing those attributes are Rio (who is rarely fit); Carrick; Berbatov (who inexplicably has been frozen out of the team); and Nani.

    That is far too few for a club wanting to succeed on the European stage.

    Forget last season. We may have gotten to the final but we had the easiest route imaginable: Valencia, Bursapor, Rangers, Marseilles, Schalke…..Chelsea were the only decent team we faced and even then it just showed that we are good in the Premier League. Of course Barcelona brought us down to earth.

    If Ferguson is content with the Premiership then there is no real reason to panic. City are our only serious rival and there is no shame in finishing second to them with all the money they spend on players and there is a good chance they will implode and let us steal the title.

    But if Ferguson wants us to be a force in Europe we need to seriously overhaul this squad or wait for Mourinho to come and do it for him.

    • Fred the Red

      8 December 2011 at 00:33

      I cant say I disagree with too much that you just said there colver. Fletcher, Park and even Carrick are not world class players. They are decent pros, seven out of ten men who dont have the abilty to be any better. Thats OK for a club like Everton or Villa, not United. In the last three years Sniejder, Van Der Vaart, Silva and Mata have been transferd for a combined total of in and around 65 million. Thats four world class players that United have been crying out for. And to cap it all off, three of them joined English clubs that added together would fail to match Uniteds history or tradition. I hope I am wrong, but a manager who fails to see the limitations of certain players who have been getting regular starts at Old Trafford and have proved themselves to be just decent, does not fill me with confidence that he will remedy the situation. Like I said, I hope Im wrong.

  18. colver

    7 December 2011 at 23:35

    Hear hear Jay Wire. When Fergie plays two wingers and a defender in the centre of midfield you start to wonder.

  19. godzilla

    8 December 2011 at 03:01

    Any idea where Grog is?? I want his massive rant against Fergie and Fergie’s lousy tactics!

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