"This match is worth as much as a title," said Ioan Andone as his CFR 1907 Cluj side look to defend a 2-1 UEFA Champions League play-off lead at home against FC Basel 1893.
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CFR 1907 Cluj coach Ioan Andone said victory in their UEFA Champions League play-off tie against FC Basel 1893 would be "worth as much as a title" as his side look to protect a 2-1 lead on Wednesday.
Two second-half goals from Modou Sougou turned the tie on its head in last week's first leg in Switzerland, and Andone is determined not to let that good work go to waste. "We worked for a year to qualify for this competition as Romanian champions, and to get as far as the group stage would mean even more as we would have beaten two domestic champions to get there," said the 52-year-old.
"The 2-1 win in Basel was an important step forward, but this is a totally different match – we are not the favourites at all," added Andone. He will be without Ronny (knee), Adam Vass (foot), Ciprian Deac (knee), Vasile Maftei and Felice Piccolo, yet is likely to field striker Pantelis Kapetanos, who has shaken off a leg injury. "Our fans' expectations are high but, for me, this is not just about Cluj – it is a match for the whole of Romania."
Basel boss Heiko Vogel, meanwhile, hopes his charges can save their best till last again, having come from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Molde FK in the third qualifying round and win through courtesy of their earlier 1-0 victory in Norway. "Against Molde, we looked like we could be going out of the competition for part of the second leg," he said. "We have to impose our game on Cluj, because I expect a defensive CFR team like we saw in Basel.
"We had a lot of possession in the first game but that isn't everything," added the 36-year-old German. "The quality of possession is what matters." Mohamed Salah will not play after injuring his thigh at the weekend while Marco Streller and Cabral are dealing with less significant fitness complaints.
Fabian Frei, meanwhile, is desperate for the Swiss champions to compete with the best in Europe once more, having reached the last 16 last term. "I think about last season's Champions League on a weekly basis," the midfielder said. "I also sometimes watch the games on video. Hearing the Champions League anthem is something special for all of us."