uefa.com diarist George Boateng is confident Middlesbrough FC can upset the odds despite FC Basel 1893 travelling to England with a 2-0 first-leg lead.
George Boateng is keen to return from suspension with a bang as Middlesbrough FC seek to recover a 2-0 first-leg deficit against FC Basel 1893 in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
We have a mountain to climb to overturn the two-goal deficit against Basel this evening, but the belief that we can do it is definitely there. Nothing has been won or lost yet, and Basel coach Christian Gross said he knew full well that Premiership opposition never give up regardless of the score. He's absolutely right because we intend to keep going right to the end, whatever happens.
In the first leg the team just didn't perform. We let in two soft goals by losing concentration on two occasions. We've made the situation very difficult for ourselves but if we play to the standard we're capable of, we can go through. We've certainly beaten better opposition in the competition. I thought Basel were a good solid team, with one or two very good individuals like Matías Delgado and David Degen, both of whom scored in the first leg. But other than that, there was no one who was particularly outstanding.
Nothing to lose
We have people in our side who can score goals, but I don't think that will be the key. The key will be whether we can defend well as a team and not concede. One goal would kill all our hopes, unless we're leading 4-0 at the time! But we have nothing to lose, because we are already losing 2-0. We might as well go for it and win it. We can play without fear.
We lost Gaizka Mendieta on Monday, which is a big blow. He was rested in the league game against Manchester City FC on Sunday so he'd be fit for this match, but he picked up a freak injury in training. He was just striking a ball and broke a bone in his foot. It's going to cost us dearly. He won't just miss the rest of the season, he will have to train all summer to be ready for the start of the next one.
On the plus side, Gareth Southgate is fit to come back into the side, and that is great news. If he doesn't play, the team feels like it's lacking leadership at the back, and when he's fit, everybody is more confident. He's got so much experience, and his leadership is so important. Not only is he our best defender, he's also our captain and it's vital for us that he's fit to play.