Basel seek return to glory days

Memories of beating the likes of Celtic FC, Liverpool FC and Juventus remain vivid for fans of FC Basel 1893 as they set out on another UEFA Champions League bid.

Basel are the champions of Switzerland
Basel are the champions of Switzerland ©Getty Images

Spirits lifted
Now 32, Australian international forward Scott Chipperfield is one of two survivors along with Benjamin Huggel of the Basel squad which, having already knocked out Celtic FC and Liverpool FC, defeated Juve 2-1 at St. Jakob-Park in March 2003 but missed out on the quarter-finals in a three-way head-to-head tie-breaker for the runners-up slot having finished level in a testing second group stage pool with the Bianconeri – who went on to reach the final – and RC Deportivo La Coruña. Subsequent failures in qualifying, coupled with FC Zürich claiming back-to-back titles, have slowed Basel's progress. But a last-gasp championship success last term and impressive start to the new Super League season have lifted spirits before tonight's second qualifying round first leg at two-time UEFA Cup winners IFK Göteborg.

'Reach the stars'
"The team is in good shape and the positive start to the new season has given us additional self-confidence," said Chipperfield, having struck the opener in Saturday's 2-0 defeat of AC Bellinzona which moved Basel on to nine points from three outings in 2008/09. "I want to relive those [Champions League] games again. And I especially want our young players to have that experience as well. There is no better motivation for a career than trying to reach the stars and playing on Europe's biggest stage. A difficult but by no means impossible task now lies ahead of us."

Carlitos return
Basel coach Christian Gross had similar thoughts as he looked ahead to the two-legged tie against the Swedish title winners. "We know that it will be a tough away game," he said. "Göteborg have a fine name in Europe but we are in good form and are really holding up well defensively." Basel hopes have been boosted by the weekend return from injury of influential Portuguese midfielder Carlitos, and the form of David Abraham as the new signing from CG Tarragona has established himself as the leader of Basel's defensive line just in time for the trip to Sweden.