FC Basel 1893 wore the red and blue but there was no mistaking FC Barcelona at St. Jakob-Park, the Blaugrana totally outclassing their Group C rivals to record a 5-0 win and march ever closer to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage.
Barcelona's 200th triumph in UEFA club competition, it was also their equal best in this tournament and looked nigh on inevitable as soon as Lionel Messi had struck his 50th goal for the Spanish Liga side with four minutes gone. Sergio Busquets doubled the advantage eleven minutes later before teenager Bojan Krkić added a third. The visitors made an even better start to the second half than to the first, as Bojan scored his second goal and Xavi Hernández notched the team's fifth within three minutes of the restart.
The early murmurs suggested Basel might prove the more ambitious outfit, with coach Christian Gross electing to accommodate both Marco Streller and Eren Derdiyok up front, while counterpart Josep Guardiola left key trio Samuel Eto'o, Andrés Iniesta and Thierry Henry on the bench. Such thinking quickly proved foolish, however, with Messi feeding Daniel Alves on the edge of the area and running on to the Brazilian's delightfully chipped return pass to sidefoot in from almost point-blank range.
Hardly had the Rotblau recovered from that crushing blow than they found themselves two down. Xavi picked out Busquets on the right and the 20-year-old midfielder drove between the legs of Franco Costanzo. If the Basel keeper then denied Xavi's sliding effort, Barça continued to press and registered again when surprise starter Bojan, 18, made space for himself in front of goal and speared a shot low into the left corner.
Only a goalline block from another Bojan attempt and a Costanzo stop from Alves's follow-up spared the Swiss champions a four-goal deficit in the first half-hour, though the punishment continued as Gross's shell-shocked troops were left chasing shadows. Bojan blasted off target from an excellent position and Aleksandr Hleb had a low strike turned wide, prompting a relief equally palpable when the whistle finally blew for half-time.
Gross sent on Valentin Stocker for Eduardo Rubio after the break, but within 60 seconds Costanzo was picking the ball out of his net again – Bojan crowning a swift counterattack with a firm finish after being released by Busquets. Two minutes later, Hleb and Messi combined to supply Xavi for his share of the spoils, and if the sight of Henry then coming on for the UEFA EURO 2008™ winner could not have done much for the locals' nerves, they at least got to experience a reprieve when Bojan lobbed narrowly over.
At the other end, Streller finally threatened Víctor Valdés's goal when he beat Carles Puyol and dug out a hopeful shot that was swept clear. That said more about Barça's diminished intensity than anything else, though, and Basel must already be dreading their trip to the Camp Nou on 4 November. Mathematically, they still have a chance of qualifying – but according to that criteria their conquerors may still fail to progress. Those scenarios ought to resolve themselves soon.