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Basel and Benfica tussle for top spot

Published: Monday 3 October 2011, 8.45CET
With a win and a draw apiece, FC Basel 1893 and SL Benfica have equal cause for optimism as the top two in Group C prepare to lock horns at St. Jakob-Park on matchday three.
Basel and Benfica tussle for top spot
Marco Streller and Thorsten Fink celebrate Basel's impressive draw at Old Trafford ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BaselBenfica

Goals scored12
 
13
Attempts on target32
 
59
Attempts off target35
 
71
Corners30
 
56
Offsides24
 
14
Fouls committed91
 
145
Yellow cards18
 
27
Red cards1
 
2
 
Published: Monday 3 October 2011, 8.45CET

Basel and Benfica tussle for top spot

With a win and a draw apiece, FC Basel 1893 and SL Benfica have equal cause for optimism as the top two in Group C prepare to lock horns at St. Jakob-Park on matchday three.

As joint leaders of Group C, FC Basel 1893 and SL Benfica will each be eager to build on encouraging starts to this season's UEFA Champions League group stage when they lock horns in Switzerland.

• Both teams have recorded a victory against FC Oţelul Galaţi and a draw with Manchester United FC, and a win for either at St. Jakob-Park would ensure outright leadership of the group – and could prove a significant step towards qualification for the last 16.

Match background
• Basel will look to provide another parallel with their best UEFA Champions League campaign to date by claiming a second straight home success to add to their opening defeat of Oţelul. Not since 2002/03 and the second group stage have they posted more than one win at St. Jakob-Park in a UEFA Champions League group phase. In that same section, they drew at Manchester United, a feat that Thorsten Fink's men repeated on matchday two.

• Since then, Fink has departed for Hamburger SV to be replaced by his former assistant Heiko Vogel.

• With their 1-0 victory at Oţelul on matchday two, Benfica are now unbeaten in three away games in this term's UEFA Champions League, qualifying rounds included. Jorge Jesus's team have lost only one of their last seven European fixtures on the road, although they suffered defeat in all three games outside Lisbon in last season's group stage.

• Basel have won just one of six matches against sides from Portugal. Valentin Stocker was on target in that solitary success – 2-1 against Vitória SC in a 2008/09 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie which secured an identical aggregate victory.

• Basel's other encounters with Portuguese opposition were against Sporting Clube de Portugal and ended unhappily. They suffered home and away losses to Benfica's local rivals in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 32 and again in the following season's UEFA Champions League group stage, conceding eight goals in those four matches without scoring themselves.

• Benfica are unbeaten against Swiss opposition, having recorded a home win and away draw against both FC La Chaux-de-Fonds in the 1964/65 European Champion Clubs' Cup and FC Zürich in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup. Benfica assistant coach Minervino Pietra played in both ties against Zürich.

Team ties
• Axel Witsel scored both Belgium goals in a 2-0 victory away to an Austria side including Aleksandar Dragović in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in March.

• Maxi Pereira tasted victory on Swiss soil when helping Uruguay beat Switzerland 3-1 in St Gallen in a March 2010 friendly that featured Xherdan Shaqiri and Marco Streller for the Nati.

• Luisão scored the opening goal when Brazil won 2-1 at St. Jakob-Park in a November 2006 friendly against Alexander Frei and Streller's Switzerland.

• Alexander Frei lined up against Pablo Aimar when his Servette FC side took on Valencia CF in the round of 16 of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup. Aimar scored in Valencia's 3-0 home win when Frei appeared as a substitute. The latter found the net in the 2-2 second-leg draw in Switzerland, with Aimar absent.

• Aimar and Javier Saviola faced Benjamin Huggel and Streller as substitutes in Argentina's 1-1 friendly draw with Switzerland in Basel in June 2007. The pair had earlier helped their country beat Scott Chipperfield's Australia 4-2 at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup.

• Benfica's Portuguese Under-21 international Roderick Miranda is currently on loan at Servette, the Swiss club coached by Eagles old boy João Alves.

Last updated: 13/10/11 12.51CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000263/match=2007606/prematch/background/index.html#optimism+abounds+basel

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