FC Basel 1893 became the first side to avoid defeat against FC Salzburg in this season's UEFA Europa League when they held the Austrian club to a 0-0 draw in last week's round of 16 opener, but Roger Schmidt's team are determined to make amends at home.
The most prolific scorers in this term's competition, Salzburg breezed through the group stage with six straight wins, then beat AFC Ajax home and away in the round of 32. While the Swiss champions matched them last time out at St. Jakob-Park, defender Florian Klein is determined to kill the tie off and have a stake in Friday's draw.
"Basel are a great team, but after the goalless draw a week ago our ambitions are even bigger," he said. "We are absolutely able to get to the quarter-finals. We have to attack, we have to be mentally strong, but of course we also have to be careful. This is the pinnacle of our club careers."
Coach Schmidt feels his side have the measure of their opponents. "We played very well in the first leg in Basel, but I noticed some shortcomings, which we will try to correct," the 47-year-old explained. "We have lots of new ideas for the decisive match. We can play even better, even though we were very strong in Basel.
"The 0-0 scoreline was disappointing for us as we had plenty of chances to win in Switzerland. The boys are extremely motivated. We all know what victory would bring. We know that with one goal we could be in the quarter-finals."
Having utterly dominated the 2013/14 Bundesliga, Salzburg could finish the week by claiming their eighth Austrian title – though Sunday's visit of SC Wiener Neustadt seems ages away for the 27-year-old Klein. "We have some exceptional days ahead, as we can also become Austrian champions by the end of the week," he said. "But we will think about Sunday after the Basel match. We are all focused but also quite impatient to get the game started in front of a full house."
Only once in their five UEFA Europa League outings at Stadion Salzburg this campaign have the hosts not scored three or more goals. Thus, the size of the task facing Switzerland's title holders is not lost on coach Murat Yakin or defender Philipp Degen.
"I'm aware it will be difficult here tomorrow, the stadium will be full and our opponents are very motivated and in really good shape, but we will try everything to go through," observed Yakin. "We need a good balance between defence and attack."
Degen added: "We have a lot of quality, though maybe we didn't show it all in the first leg at home. We have some players who can make the difference, but nevertheless the task will be very difficult here in Salzburg."
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