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Basel's Ferati revved up for CFR test

Beg Ferati is demanding full focus from FC Basel 1893 when CFR 1907 Cluj visit St. Jakob-Park, with the defender wary of the visitors' counterattacking threat in a must-win match.

Beg Ferati (right) has played in three of Basel's four group matches
Beg Ferati (right) has played in three of Basel's four group matches ©Getty Images

FC Basel 1893's chances of playing European football in the new year rest in their hands as they prepare to welcome CFR 1907 Cluj to Switzerland.

With both teams three points behind second-placed AS Roma in UEFA Champions League Group E, the door to the knockout stages of this competition or the UEFA Europa League remains very much ajar to the pair. Qualification may well come down to who prevails in the head-to-head stakes, CFR having triumphed 2-1 in Romania on 15 September.  A clean sheet is thus the order of the day for the Swiss titleholders at what is expected to be a sold-out St. Jakob-Park.

"We always play not to concede a goal," said defender Beg Ferati. "Our first priority is always not to concede any goals." After losing to CFR on Matchday 1, Basel know a 1-0 win would guarantee them a place in the UEFA Europa League at the very least and leave it all to play for in their final game at FC Bayern München, regardless of the result between the German team and Roma in the other match.

"I'm very, very confident that we can win," added the 24-year-old before sounding a note of caution. "It's not going to be easy because they play on the counterattack and, with Lacina Traoré, they are very dangerous on the break. We have got to attack them and not let them hit back."

Should CFR score, the hosts would have to ensure they win by at least two goals to guarantee their European presence in the spring. Focus, then, is key. "The Champions League is absolutely the highest level of football in the world, at least at club level, and you've always got to keep your concentration," continued Ferati. "They have very good individual players and we've just got to concentrate and play our own game."

Cluj defender Cadú, meanwhile, insists his side have no plans to sit back. "We need a positive result and, for that reason, it's a very important game that we want to win at all costs," he said. "With a positive result, we are 99% through." Basel will be without the suspended Valentin Stocker, who scored what could yet prove a crucial added-time consolation in Romania, and Marco Streller, while Scott Chipperfield and Jacques Zoua are both injured.

CFR coach Sorin Cârţu, on the other hand, is spoilt for choice and this, according to Cadú, can only be good news. "We have 22 or 23 players in the squad and that means that whoever is chosen will try to give their best," he said.