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Swiss title goes to Saturday showdown

Published: Wednesday 7 May 2008, 19.20CET
Having suffered final-day misery for the last two seasons, FC Basel 1893 will be hoping to make it third time lucky at home to second-placed BSC Young Boys.
by Steffen Potter
Swiss title goes to Saturday showdown
Reto Zanni reacts after last season's finale when a 2-0 victory against Young Boys proved in vain for Basel ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 7 May 2008, 19.20CET

Swiss title goes to Saturday showdown

Having suffered final-day misery for the last two seasons, FC Basel 1893 will be hoping to make it third time lucky at home to second-placed BSC Young Boys.
FC Basel 1893 may have salvaged a 2-2 draw against Neuchâtel Xamax FC last night, but it was not enough to avoid a nerve-wracking showdown with BSC Young Boys on Saturday as the Swiss Super League season again goes down to a final-day 'cup final' at St. Jakob-Park.

Crucial point
Basel would have sealed the title without running the weekend gauntlet had they bettered Young Boys' result on Tuesday, yet that never looked likely as they entered the final 20 minutes of their game with hosts Xamax 2-0 up. Christian Gross's men hit back through Daniel Majstorovic (71) before Ivan Ergić grabbed an equaliser in added time. The point could prove invaluable because, had Basel not drawn, then YB, who beat Grasshopper-Club 2-0 in Berne, would have held a goal-difference advantage going into the last day as they pursue their first title since 1985/86.

YB reward?
Instead, Basel have a one-point cushion and Gross cut a relieved figure. "I went into the dressing room to congratulate the team for their performance," he said. "We deserve a lot of credit for coming back from 2-0 down. I am happy for Ivan Ergić who carried the team in the second half." The 27-year-old Serbian international may struggle to repeat the feat against a Young Boys team who have won two of the sides' three meetings this term. The Bernese outfit lost 3-1 at home to Xamax last Saturday but coach Martin Andermatt believes that having earned another crack, they can finish the job. "My team have developed over the season," he said. "They have coped with the pressure and can now earn their reward on Saturday."

Basel omens
Saturday's encounter will stir painful memories for Basel, who have been edged out on the final day of the campaign for the last two seasons by FC Zürich. A 2-0 victory over Young Boys 12 months ago proved in vain while, in 2006, Zürich claimed an added-time win at St. Jakob-Park. Gross argues that such experiences will bring strength to his side, not fear: "Our performances and our mental strength give me confidence for the last match against YB. We play in front of our own fans and we want the title whatever the cost."

Long wait
Young Boys captain Hakan Yakin predictably has a different take. "Whenever we have been first this season, we have lost. Now we go into the decisive game in second – I think that's a good omen," he said. "It's better knowing you have to win rather than thinking a draw might be good enough. We deserve this as we have been waiting for 22 years."

Last updated: 07/05/08 17.26CET

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