FC Basel face a trip
back to the harsh realities of the shrinking Swiss Super League
following their rude awakening in the Champions League against
Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Having visited Old Trafford, the Allianz Arena and Benfica's
Stadium of Light during their European campaign, Basel's 7-0
defeat has left them with the prospect of trips to Thun, Sion
and the vast empty expanses of Zurich's Letzigrund.
Last Saturday's 2-0 win over Grasshoppers in front of 7,000
fans in Zurich, where the running track around the pitch makes
the stadium feel even emptier, is an example of what they face.
With a 12-point lead over their nearest challengers, Basel
are expected to win the Swiss Super League for the sixth time in
nine seasons as they remain the big fish in a small pond.
Too strong for their own country, Tuesday's defeat, their
heaviest in Europe, showed they are still out of their depth at
the very top of international level.
Basel's Champions League campaign, where they qualified from
the group stage with two memorable performances against
Manchester United and then beat Bayern Munich at home, had been
a rare bright spot for Swiss football.
Now, commentators are wondering whether they have simply
added to Swiss woes.
Heiko Vogel, promoted to his first senior coaching job after
Thorsten Fink left for Hamburg SV last season, was hopeful the
high points - including 3-3 at Old Trafford and 1-1 away to
Benfica in Lisbon - would still be remembered.
"We have achieved a lot, the team has achieved lot and we
shouldn't forget this, I don't want our campaign to be reduced
to this result," the German said before describing his suffering
during Tuesday's match.
"I stood looking constantly at the clock, wondering when it
would all end." he said.
Switzerland could certainly have done with a boost.
The national side failed to qualify for Euro 2012, finishing
below Montenegro in their qualifying group, and Basel were their
only remaining representatives in club competition this season.
The country had briefly earned a direct place in the
Champions League group stage but, from next season, their
champions will again have to negotiate two qualifying rounds.
The Swiss FA was threatened with suspension in December
after Sion, banned from fielding players they signed during the
summer, defied FIFA statutes by taking their case to the civil
FIFA were only placated when Sion were deducted 36 points,
leaving them hopelessly adrift at the bottom of the table.
In January, Neuchatel Xamax were kicked out of the league
for a series of administrative irregularities under Russian-born
owner Bulat Chagaev, who was in charge for only eight months.
Two weeks ago, Servette Geneva filed for bankruptcy and
since then their participation in the league has been decided on
a week-by-week basis. Last week, a Geneva court gave the club
extra time following an rescue offer from Canadian businessman
Should that fail and Servette be expelled, the league would
be left with seven teams plus Sion.
Vogel was adamant that, despite Tuesday's humiliation, Basel
were a credit to their country.
"Just to have got this far is a great achievement and I
think that overall we have done Swiss football a lot of good,"
Spurs miss out on Champions League again despite highest Premier League points tally
Champions closer to matching Real Madrid's La Liga record of 100 points with 2-1 win
AC Milan score twice in last six minutes to beat relegated Siena 2-1 to finish third
Carlo Ancelotti informs PSG officials that he wants to leave at the end of the season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010