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Buoyant Basel aiming high at Benfica

A famous matchday five win has kept Basel in contention to progress from Group A, which they conclude with a trip to a Benfica side they beat 5-0 on matchday two.

Basel enjoy their matchday five defeat of Manchester United
Basel enjoy their matchday five defeat of Manchester United ©AFP/Getty Images

A famous last-gasp win on matchday five has kept FC Basel 1893 in contention for a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds as they conclude their Group A campaign at point-less SL Benfica.

• Michael Lang scored the Swiss champions' 89th-minute winner against section leaders Manchester United FC last time out, leaving Basel on nine points, level with PFC CSKA Moskva and three behind United.

• That means Basel will go through if they better CSKA's result away to United, or if both teams draw or lose due to their superior head-to-head. If CSKA and Basel win, the top two will be decided in a three-way head to head, and Basel would be through unless CSKA win by a margin of between three and six goals inclusive.

• Benfica, who suffered their heaviest UEFA Champions League defeat in losing 5-0 at Basel on matchday two – also the Swiss side's record win in the competition – will finish bottom.

Previous meetings
• The teams were also paired in the 2011/12 group stage. Benfica had the upper hand, collecting four points from their two fixtures.

• Goals in each half from Bruno César (20) and Óscar Cardozo (75) gave the Portuguese side three points in Basel on matchday three. They ended with ten men after Emerson's 86th-minute dismissal for a second yellow card.

• The game in Lisbon two weeks later finished 1-1, Rodrigo giving Benfica a fourth-minute lead before Benjamin Huggel (64) earned Basel a point.

• The sides at Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on 2 November 2011 were:
Benfica: Artur, Luisão, Bruno César, Garay, Maxi Pereira, Luís Martins (Miguel Vítor 64), Witsel, Matić, Aimar (Cardozo 73), Gaitán (Nolito 82), Rodrigo.
Basel: Sommer, Park, Dragović, Abraham, Steinhöfer, G Xhaka (Cabral 81), Huggel, Chipperfield (Kusunga 89), F Frei, Zoua (Pak 90+3), Shaqiri.

• Benfica ultimately won the section, going on to lose to eventual champions Chelsea FC in the quarter-finals; Basel finished second in Group C and were beaten by FC Bayern München in the round of 16.

Match background

• The Portuguese side were unbeaten against Swiss clubs before crashing to defeat at Basel. Their previous record was W3 D3; W2 D1 at home.

• The 2011 draw against Basel is the only time Benfica have failed to win at home to Swiss visitors. They beat FC La Chaux-de-Fonds 5-0 in the 1964/65 European Champion Clubs' Cup (6-1 aggregate) and FC Zürich 4-0 in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup third round (5-1 aggregate) in their other two Lisbon fixtures.

• Portuguese double winners in 2016/17, Benfica are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 13th time – and the eighth season running. The Lisbon club finished bottom of their section in 2014/15 but got to the quarter-finals in 2015/16 and again progressed from the group stage last year, losing 4-1 on aggregate to Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16.

• Benfica have won only one of their last nine European matches, home and away – the 1-0 victory against Dortmund in last season's round of 16 first leg – and lost the last six.

• Despite losing 2-1 to CSKA Moskva on matchday one and 1-0 against Manchester United in their third game, Benfica have lost only four of their last 13 European home games.

• Before this season, 19 clubs had lost all six games in a UEFA Champions League group stage. Benfica would become the first Portuguese side to suffer that fate should they lose to Basel.

• The Benfica success ended a winless run of nine European matches, home and away (D3 L6), since a 2-1 home success against AS Saint-Étienne on 25 February 2016.

• Basel's last trip to Portugal brought their first victory, a 2-0 win in Lisbon against Os Belenenses in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage. Their previous record was D3 L3.

• The Swiss club lost their first away game in Group A 3-0 at Manchester United, but were then 2-0 winners at CSKA Moskva on matchday three.

• The CSKA success ended a six-game winless run in European away matches (D1 L5); Basel had won four of their previous five before that sequence.

• 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 their six outings. Basel last reached the round of 16 in 2014/15.

Coach and player links
• Ricky van Wolfswinkel played for Sporting Clube de Portugal between 2011 and 2013. He scored the only goal in a 1-0 Liga win against Benfica on 9 April 2012, with Luisão sent off late on, and was also on target in Sporting's 3-1 home defeat on 10 December that year. His record against Benfica with Sporting was W1 D0 L3.

• Van Wolfswinkel also scored two goals in four appearances against Vitória SC, then coached by current Benfica coach Rui Vitória (W2 D2).

• Haris Seferović got a goal and an assist in Eintracht Frankfurt's 4-1 Bundesliga win against VfB Stuttgart on 29 August 2015; Geoffroy Serey Dié set up the Stuttgart goal.

• Marek Suchý played in FC Spartak Moskva's 2-1 home win and 0-2 away defeat against Benfica in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Jonas was in the Valencia CF side that overturned a 0-3 defeat at Basel with a 5-0 extra-time home win in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

• Andreas Samaris was on target in Greece's 2-1 defeat of Dié's Ivory Coast in the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage.

• Have played together:
Haris Seferović & Manuel Akanji, Michael Lang, Luca Zuffi, Renato Steffen (Switzerland)
Haris Seferović & Davide Callá (Grasshopper Club Zürich, 2009/10)
Rúben Dias, João Carvalho, Diogo Gonçalves & Pedro Pacheco (Portugal Under-19)

Match facts

• Eduardo Salvio is a booking away from a ban.

• Benfica are trying to avoid becoming the Portuguese team with the worst single-season record in the group stage; Sporting CP's two-point haul in 2000/01 is currently the lowest.

• Benfica earned a goalless league draw at Porto on Friday night.

• Benfica had registered a fourth consecutive victory in the Portuguese Liga when beating Vitória FC 6-0 on 26 November, their best winning sequence in the league this term.

• Jonas scored his 100th goal for Benfica with a double in that game.

• Jonas scored in ten consecutive league games, surpassing Eusébio's record set 52 years ago, prior to the draw at Porto.

• Jonas has scored 15 league goals in 13 matches this season.

• Felipe Augusto missed Benfica's games against Vitória FC and Porto due to a foot injury.

• Rúben Dias underwent surgery for acute appendicitis and has not played since the international break.

• Taulant Xhaka returns from a one-match suspension; Éder Balanta is a booking away from a ban.

• Basel are through to the Swiss Cup semi-finals following a 2-1 win against FC Luzern on 29 November. They will play BSC Young Boys in the last four in February.

• Defender Michael Lang has scored seven goals in Basel's last five games, all wins.

• Basel are seven matches unbeaten away from home, winning five and conceding just three times in that run.

• Geoffroy Serey Dié and Kevin Bua have both been sidelined with muscle injuries.

• 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.

• On 21 November Basel announced that Omar Gaber, who is currently ill, will spend 2018 on loan at Los Angeles FC.