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Basel must build on success

Published: Tuesday 18 March 2003, 14.45CET
Julio Hernán Rossi tells that FC Basel can repeat their remarkable UEFA Champions League success. features

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Published: Tuesday 18 March 2003, 14.45CET

Basel must build on success

Julio Hernán Rossi tells that FC Basel can repeat their remarkable UEFA Champions League success.
By Svend Frandsen in Basel

The stagnating worldwide transfer market could work to FC Basel's advantage as they attempt to remain among Europe's elite, according to Argentinian striker Julio Hernán Rossi.

Surprise participants
In previous years, Europe's top clubs would have been lining up to acquire the services of the Swiss team's stars. However, Rossi believes the lack of finances for big-money moves may help Basel, who need a footballing miracle against Juventus FC tonight, to keep their talented squad together.

Optimistic future
"It will definitely be more difficult for players to leave the club than it has been," said Rossi. "The future of the club depends on who goes and who stays, and it is up to the Basel management to keep the squad intact. At the moment the transfer market is almost non-existent and this could make it easier for Basel to preserve the squad and therefore make sure they remain a power in European football in years to come."

Instant impact
Basel have made a huge impression in the UEFA Champions League this season, reaching the second group stage at the expense of Liverpool FC. Rossi has been instrumental in that success, having scored five times in six first-phase games.

Goals needed
The 26-year-old has yet to register in Group D, although tonight could be the perfect occasion to find the net again in Europe as Basel welcome Juventus to Saint Jakob Park. To qualify for the quarter-finals, Rossi and company must better the 4-0 defeat inflicted on them by the Italian side in their previous meeting - and hope that RC Deportivo La Coruña draw or lose against section winners Manchester United FC.

Invaluable lessons
Regardless of the outcome, Rossi insists the Champions League has provided Christian Gross's men with an invaluable lesson. "For me, it was the first time playing in this competition and the eleven matches we have played have taught us so many things," he said. "Indeed, if I had to account for all the things that I might bring to use on the pitch during the rest of my career, I would be here for an hour."

Trophies waiting
He added: "Now it remains to be seen whether the club can set all these experiences on and off the pitch into good use but if that is the case, there's plenty of silverware waiting for Basel down the road."

Crowd favourite
First things first though, and Rossi, who renewed his successful partnership with fellow Argentinian forward Christian Giménez when he joined Basel from FC Lugano at the start of the season, is aware that the goal-hungry home crowd will be relying on him to keep their dream alive tonight.

Bright campaign
But even if Basel fail in their bid, they can at least console themselves with the knowledge that their remarkable campaign has put the club on the European football map. "It's unbelievable," Rossi said. "Nobody expected us to get into the competition itself and now we find ourselves in the second group stage among the best clubs in Europe."

Last updated: 18/03/03 21.46CET

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