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Basel face tall order against perfect Manchester United

Manchester United have won all four Group A games and a point away to Basel will guarantee first place in the section, while the Swiss side could qualify with a victory.

Luca Zuffi reacts to Basel's matchday four loss
Luca Zuffi reacts to Basel's matchday four loss ©AFP/Getty Images

Manchester United FC can secure their place as Group A winners on matchday five – and ease memories of their last trip to FC Basel 1893 in the process.

• United, who were 3-0 winners against Basel on matchday one, were eliminated from the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League in Switzerland, but four victories from four this season have given them a six-point cushion at the top of the standings.

• José Mourinho's men will qualify as group winners with a draw. Their progress will also be confirmed before kick-off if PFC CSKA Moskva do not win at home to bottom side SL Benfica in the early Group A game.

• Basel have six points, level with CSKA, and will be through if they win and the Russian team lose due to their better head-to-head record.

Previous meetings
• The clubs first met in the 2002/03 second group stage, United winning the first game in Switzerland 3-1 with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring twice. Ole Gunnar Solskjær got United's clinching third goal after Christian Giménez had given Basel a first-minute lead.

• Giménez was also on target in Manchester on 12 March 2003, his 14th-minute strike helping Basel to a 1-1 draw with Gary Neville claiming United's equaliser.

Basel earned another, crucial point at Old Trafford in the 2011/12 group stage. Two goals from Danny Welbeck (16, 17) had put United in charge only for Fabian Frei (58) and an Alexander Frei double (61, 76pen) to leave Basel on the verge of a famous win; however Ashley Young salvaged a draw for United in the 90th minute.

• There would be no escape for United in Switzerland on matchday six though. Needing a point to book second spot in the section, United fell behind to Marco Streller's ninth-minute opener and their fate was effectively sealed when Alexander Frei made it 2-0 with six minutes to go, despite Phil Jones pulling one back in the 89th minute. The result left Basel second in Group C and United third.

• The line-ups at St. Jakob-Park on 7 December 2011 were:
Basel: Sommer, Abraham, Cabral, Steinhöfer, Park, Dragović, Shaqiri (Stocker 90+2), F Frei, G Xhaka (Chipperfield 83), Streller, A Frei (Kusunga 88).
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidić (Evans 44), Smalling, Evra, Giggs, Park (Macheda 82), Young (Welbeck 64), Nani, Rooney.

Match background

• Before thrashing SL Benfica 5-0 on matchday two – their record UEFA Champions League win – Raphaël Wicky's team were without a victory in nine European matches, home or away (D3 L6), since a 2-1 home success over AS Saint-Étienne on 25 February 2016.

• However, Basel were beaten 2-1 at home by CSKA on matchday four and have now lost three of their last four European fixtures at St. Jakob-Park. They gained a single point from their three home games in last season's group stage. In fact, the Benfica win was just Bebbi's second in their last nine European home matches, with four losses in that run.

• Basel were eliminated from Europe last term following a 4-1 home loss to Arsenal FC on 6 December 2016. They have lost only six of their last 24 European home games since the start of 2013/14.

• Beaten away and at home by Arsenal last autumn, the Swiss side have lost their last three matches against English clubs, having been unbeaten in the previous four (W3 D1). Overall their record against English rivals is W6 D8 L13 (W5 D3 L5 at home).

• Basel qualified by winning an eighth successive Swiss title in 2016/17.

• This is their eighth group stage campaign, and their fourth in five years. Last term they came fourth in Group A, collecting just two points from six outings.

Manchester United
• Their five games against Basel are the Red Devils' only matches against Swiss opposition.

• United have won all four Group A games; away from home they beat CSKA 4-1 on matchday two before a 1-0 success at Benfica in the third round of fixtures. 

• This is United's sixth European match this term, their campaign having started with a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje on 8 August. That ended United's 11-game unbeaten run (W8 D3) since a 2-1 reversal at Fenerbahçe SK on matchday four of last season's UEFA Europa League. The defeat in Istanbul had been their fifth in nine European fixtures.

• That Madrid loss is United's only reverse in their last 16 European matches, home and away (W12 D3). They are now seeking to extend a seven-game unbeaten European away record (W5 D2) since that setback at Fenerbahçe.

• This is United's 21st campaign in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and only four times have they failed to make the next round. Two of those eliminations came in their last four participations; the English club finished third in their section in both 2011/12 and 2015/16, their last appearance until now.

• United completed a clean sweep of European trophies with victory in last season's UEFA Europa League. The win against AFC Ajax in Stockholm added to their European Cup triumphs in 1968, 1999 and 2008 and their 1991 European Cup Winners' Cup success.

Coach and player links
• Mourinho was Chelsea manager when they played Basel in the 2013/14 group stage, the Swiss outfit winning 2-1 in London on matchday one and 1-0 at home. Juan Mata played in both fixtures.

• Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored Sporting Clube de Portugal's penalty winner in a 1-0 victory over Nemanja Matić's Benfica on 9 April 2012, and was also on target in a 3-1 Sporting loss on 10 December that year.

• Mata struck twice in United's 4-0 home win against a Norwich City FC side including Van Wolfswinkel on 26 April 2014. Van Wolfswinkel was a substitute when Norwich fell 1-0 at home to United on 28 December 2013.

• Have played together:
Geoffroy Serey Dié & Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Alexander Fransson & Zlatan Ibrahimović, Victor Lindelöf (Sweden)

Match facts

• Taulant Xhaka serves a one-match suspension on matchday five; Éder Balanta is a booking away from a ban.

• Basel ended a three-match winless run on Saturday despite trailing at half-time in their 5-1 defeat of FC Sion.

• Manuel Akanji helped Switzerland reach the World Cup finals, playing every minute of their 1-0 aggregate victory over Northern Ireland in the play-offs. Michael Lang was an unused substitute in both matches.

• Geoffroy Serey Dié sustained a knee injury while on international duty with Ivory Coast and did not play in their World Cup qualifier against Morocco in 11 November.

• Ricky van Wolfswinkel has been out since breaking a metatarsal against SL Benfica on matchday two.

• Goalkeeper Germano Vailati is a long-term absentee following shoulder surgery.

• Since the World Cup play-off between Switzerland and Northern Ireland on 12 November, the St. Jakob-Park pitch has been re-laid.

Manchester United
• Jesse Lingard is a booking away from a ban.

• Mourinho's side have kept 12 clean sheets in their last 18 matches in all competitions.

• Romelu Lukaku scored 11 goals in his first ten outings for United this season but had not found the target in seven games before striking in Saturday's 4-1 defeat of Newcastle United FC.

• Paul Pogba made his first appearance on Saturday since a hamstring injury on matchday one against Basel and scored; Zlatan Ibrahimović came off the bench for his comeback following a knee liagment injury suffered in April.

• The Red Devils have managed four goals in a game on seven occasions this campaign.

• Victor Lindelöf played every minute of both legs as Sweden qualified for the World Cup finals by beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate.

• Lukaku, 24, scored the only goal against Japan on 14 November to take his tally in official internationals for Belgium to 28 goals, two off the country's all-time record. He had struck twice in their 3-3 friendly draw with Mexico four days earlier.

• Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for Armenia in friendly wins against Belarus (4-1) and Cyprus (3-2).

• David De Gea is on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or. The winner will be announced on 6 December.

• Michael Carrick (calf) has been missing since 20 September.

• Marcos Rojo has not played for United this season due to a knee ligament injury. He was an unused substitute against Newcastle.