Tue 26 Nov 2013 19:45 (Attendance: 35,208)
It's seven months since Chelsea last played in Switzerland and a similar result would bring significant reward. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton assess the group four games in…
In the opening fixture of Group E Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Basel, a defeat which abruptly ended the Blues 29-match unbeaten home run stretching back to Beşiktaş's raid on the Fulham Road in 2003. The result was set into a worse light by the fact the hosts led for 25 minutes through Oscar's opener. We had won 22 and drawn seven up to that point.
The response to it is often more important than the setback itself. Since 18 September we have racked up three straight wins and 10 goals without reply, while the Swiss have drawn two and lost one. Basel are yet to secure a home win in this season's campaign, having lost 0-1 to Schalke and drawn 1-1 with Steaua.
As a result Chelsea need only avoid defeat to book a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League. Undoubtedly manager and players will be determined to make amends for matchday one, though. A fourth successive victory since then would assuage that hunger and also secure a top spot finish in the group stage.
Steaua must win against Schalke to keep any interest in a Europa League place alive. The Germans, who face Basel in two weeks' time, will hope for two away wins tonight.
This will be our 101st away European game. The win at Schalke was our 37th victory in our 100th away match. We have lost 36 and drawn 27.
Form on the road was a different matter prior to Saturday evening's great success. The way Chelsea's revamped chorus line danced through West Ham's ranks must have given 'Strictly' a run for its money, treating the Boleyn like a ballroom.
Afterwards Jose Mourinho was full of praise for Oscar's intelligence and diligence, Frank Lampard's adaptability and John Mikel Obi's presence and stability in the 4-3-3 formation that was so successful in his previous spell at the Bridge.
As the lone holding player against less adventurous sides the Nigerian provides freedom for Lampard and Ramires. It was no coincidence our record goalscorer hit two to end a run of10 barren league games. He is now on a run of five in five games against his former club. Five of the total seven have come at the Boleyn Ground, three from the spot.
The Chelsea boss also hailed the performance as the first time his team had remained focused and controlled over 90 minutes this season. Nevertheless he was critical of the inefficiency that might have made the game safe much earlier. It was our first league clean sheet since Fulham in September.
Meanwhile Tottenham's defeat at Eastlands was a pleasant reminder of the last time they shipped six in the league, December 1997 at home. The commemorative song still rides high in Blues fans' charts: 'We won 6-1. We won 6-1. We won 6-1 - at the Lane.'
Chelsea trained at Cobham yesterday rather than on the St Jakob-Park surface that will host tonight's game - a detail of Mourinho's impeccable European planning that has reaped benefits this season.
At this time of year in the beautiful Old Town of Basel, Christmas trees and other trappings of the festive season begin to line the streets. On Thursday the German-style winter market opens on Munsterplatz, with arts, crafts, food and - arguably of most interest to traveling Londoners - drinks. So that's mulled wine, waffles, Lackerli biscuits, grilled sausages - and maybe a few bangers from the players later to settle fates in Group E.
Mourinho has challenged his team to render the final match irrelevant during a busy match schedule between now and the New Year. Like Chelsea, our group rivals have enjoyed mixed results since the last bout of European action.
After drawing disappointingly at home to Steaua, Basel progressed in the Swiss Cup and thumped mid-table Thun 4-1 at home on Saturday evening. (Thun's goalkeeper Guillaume Faivre wore a Cech-style helmet, as if to forewarn the hosts.)
Steaua's only Liga 1 action since the draw in Switzerland was a 1-1 draw at fourth-placed Pandurii Targu Jiubut on Saturday night. That was their third successive game ending in that scoreline. Since we slammed them 3-0 at the Bridge on matchday four, Schalke have beaten Werder Bremen 3-1 at home and fought back late for a 3-3 at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Other Group E fixture
Tue 7.45pm - Steaua Bucharest v Schalke
|Champions League Group E table|
Click on the tabs above for more briefing.
- It is the last chance to play Score Predictor to try and win the November prize - a signed Gianfranco Zola print. The December prize will be announced on Friday 29 November
The key aspects of Basel's approach are organisation and flexibility, especially in midfield and upfront. Coach Murat Yakin naturally adopted a more conservative approach than he had in last year's decisive Europa League semi-final, when his side were trailing 1-2 from the first leg in Switzerland.
Eden Hazard was singled out for special attention in the group stage opener at Stamford Bridge, two players rushing to close him down as soon as he received the ball, often illegally so. Even with Basel's hard-working and well-drilled team the special attention for the Belgian danger man meant they were content to sit back against others and right-back Branislav Ivanovic was often left unattended on the right.
Down the same flank Willian thoroughly enjoyed himself early on, taking on and beating of drawing fouls from Behrang Safari. Goalscorer Oscar also eluded the attention of deep-lying midfielders Fabian Frei and Marcelo Diaz. Regular defensive midfielder Sereh Die missed that match with a thigh knock but has since returned to action.
Elsewhere it was a rather flat and downtempo Chelsea performance against feisty and very physical opponents. The Blues have since found much better rhythm and tempo.
Marco van Ginkel was used as a playmaker alongside Frank Lampard but it was a tough debut for the talented 20-year-old who made way for John Mikel Obi and change of shape once the visitors had overturned the deficit.
Mourinho has to decide whether the select Ashley Cole now recovered from his rib problem or to reward Cesar Azpilicueta's continued excellence at left-back with another call. A feature of Basel's win was the role of Mohamed Salah (pictured below) on the right wing, pushed on to Cole at all times to prevent his raids forward to support Hazard.
Fernando Torres, who lost out to Samuel Eto'o on matchday one through injury, was not quite ready to figure at West Ham on Saturday but has flown out to Switzerland. Eto'o is looking increasingly effective as the Blues' centre-forward but the coaching staff will want to share the busy work-load for our over-30s centre-forwards.
Defensive midfielder Diaz is ruled out of action for Basel with a broken rib, while Safari (injury) and much-admired goalkeeper Yann Sommer (illness) missed their 4-1 home victory over Thun. The experienced but rarely-used Germano Vailati stepped in between the posts and 22-year-old right-footed midfielder Taulant Xhaka continued at left-back.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This is only our second ever pairing against Basel. Before this group stage our only previous competitive meeting with the Swiss champions was last season. Back in May our two sides met for the second and decisive time en route to the Europa League final. The Blues already forced a foot in the door of the Amsterdam Arena by winning the first leg 2-1 in Switzerland.
A Branislav Ivanovic header went in off Victor Moses to open the scoring early on for the Blues and several chances to extend the advantage came and went before half time. The hosts gradually became more purposeful as the game drew to a close with Chelsea appearing to tire but Cesar Azpilicueta was unfortunate to be penalised inside the box for a foul on Valentin Stocker.
When Fabian Schar converted with three minutes of normal time remaining it seemed a draw was the best the visitors could hope for. Yet John Terry's point-blank header was thwarted by Yann Sommer in a stoppage time rally, and David Luiz's free kick eluded the wall and the post to deliver a vital win.
A competition that ranked a poor second in the thoughts of Chelseaites after the hashed-up defence of the Champions League had acquired new significance from the quarter-finals onward. Thursday night football gradually shed its stigma.
Yet in the second leg Basel displayed enormous desire to face either Benfica or Fenerbahce in the final. Chelsea's minds were arguably distracted by the hugely significant showdown with Manchester United on the domestic front to come a few days later.
It has been a novelty recently for a visiting side to show enterprise at Stamford Bridge, but that is what the Swiss did, and both sides created decent chances in a lively first half.
Requiring a 2-1 win to force extra time and anything better than that to progress, Basel broke the deadlock in stoppage time at the end of the first half, the troublesome Stocker setting up Mohamed Salah to slide past Petr Cech.
Chelsea, captained in Terry's absence by Frank Lampard - one goal shy of Bobby Tambling's 202 goals - aimed to respond rapidly and did so. Lampard's fizzing edge-of-the-box shot was parried by Sommer and Fernando Torres stabbed gleefully into the net on 51 minutes.
Two minutes later Moses, along with Torres one of the stars of the Blues' Europa campaign, latched onto a rebounded shot by the Spaniard and netted at the second attempt.
At 4-2 on aggregate Amsterdam suddenly looked a distant prospect for the Swiss and before the hour mark Luiz picked up a pass from Lampard, strode forward and struck a breathtaking, vectoring shot into the top corner of Sommer's goal.
Fabian Frei and Sereh Die went close for the visitors but it was Chelsea's tie and Amsterdam would host its first English side since Ipswich in the UEFA Cup 32 years earlier. The Pensioners, of course, would beat Benfica 2-1 in the final with a late, late Ivanovic goal.
We also faced Basel as part of a six-match tour of Switzerland at the end of the 1945/46 season. Billy Birrell's boys won 3-2.
Our hosts celebrated their 120th anniversary last week, so many congratulations to them.
Our other meetings
2 May 2013 Europa League semi-final second leg
Torres 49 Salah 45
D Luiz 58 Chelsea won 5-2 on agg
18 September 2013 Champions League group stage
Oscar 44 Salah 70
Chelsea's biggest away win in the Champions League
20/10/1999 - Galatasaray 0-5 Chelsea - First group stage
Basel's biggest home win in the Champions League
17/09/2002 - Basel 2-0 Spartak Moscow - First group stage
Chelsea lost away in the Champions League group stage: 371
Basel last beat an English team at home: 720
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,111
Liverpool won the league: 8,606
The Blues have topped our group in seven of our last 10 Champions League campaigns. Last season was the first time we failed to progress to the knockout stage.
Chelsea have won 10 and lost seven of our last 24 away games in the Champions League.
|Chelsea's away record against Swiss teams|
|2000/01||St Gallen||L 0-2||UEFA Cup first round second leg (agg 1-2)|
|2012/13||Basel||W 2-1||Europa League semi-final first leg (agg 5-2)|
Chelsea's last 10 years in Europe
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
2012/13 - Europa League - winners, having transferred from the Champions League group stage
|Last six results|
|Oct 27||Manchester City (h)||W 2-1|
|Oct 29||Arsenal (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
|Nov 2||Newcastle (a)||L 0-2|
|Nov 6||Schalke (Champions League h)||W 3-0|
|Nov 9||West Brom (h)||D 2-2|
|Nov 23||West Ham (a)||W 3-0|
Champions League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 5
An away defeat: 2
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 1 Dec||Southampton home||4.10pm|
|Wed 4 Dec||Sunderland (Premier League) away||7.45pm|
|Sat 7 Dec||Stoke away||3.00pm|
If selected tonight John Terry will make his 592nd appearance and will equal John Hollins as our fourth all-time appearance-maker.
Petr Cech will play his 450th game for the Blues.
If selected, John Mikel Obi will play his 50th game in the Champions League.
Cesar Azpilicueta is set to make his 50th start in a Blue shirt.
16 Swiss league titles, last in 2013
11 Swiss Cups, last in 2012
1 Swiss League Cup in 1972
Basel reached a European semi-final for the first time last year. Their previous best season was the European Cup quarter-final in 1973/74 when they were beaten 6-5 on aggregate by Celtic.
St Jakob-Park has a capacity of 38,512. It is the biggest stadium in Switzerland and is regularly used for the Swiss national team. Basel's home crowds in the group stage have been 33,251 (Schalke) and 30,704 (Steaua). The attendance for our Europa League semi-final last season was 36,000.
Their record in 21 games against English teams is won four, drawn seven and lost 10.
Last ten league seasons
2003/04 - 1st
2004/05 - 1st
2005/06 - 2nd
2006/07 - 2nd
2007/08 - 1st
2008/09 - 3rd
2009/10 - 1st
2010/11 - 1st
2011/12 - 1st
2012/13 - 1st
Basel won the Super League last season for the fourth successive year, winning 21 of their 36 matches and 72 points, three clear of runner-up Grasshopper.
Basel have lost only two of their 26 games this season in all competitions, winning 15. Both defeats have come at their St Jakob-Park home, to Zurich in August and Schalke on Matchday 2.
|Basel's home games against English teams in Europe|
|Sheffield Wed||W 1-0||Intertoto Cup group stage|
|2001/02||Aston Villa||D 1-1||Intertoto Cup final first leg (agg: 2-5)|
|2002/03||Liverpool||D 3-3||Champions League first group stage|
|2002/03||Manchester Utd||L 1-3||Champions League second group stage|
|2003/04||Newcastle||L 2-3||UEFA Cup second round first leg (agg: 2-4)|
|2005/06||Middlesbrough||W 2-0||UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg (agg: 3-4)|
|2009/10||Fulham||L 2-3||Europa League group stage|
|2011/12||Manchester Utd||W 2-1||Champions League group stage|
|2012/13||Tottenham||D 2-2 (agg 4-4, won 4-1 on pens aet)||Europa League quarter-final second leg|
|2012/13||Chelsea||L 1-2||Europa League semi-final first leg (agg 2-5)|
Ten-year European record
2003/04 - UEFA Cup second round
2004/05 - UEFA Cup round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2005/06 - UEFA Cup quarter-finals having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2006/07 - UEFA Cup group stage
2007/08 - UEFA Cup round of 32
2008/09 - Champions League group stage
2009/10 - Europa League group stage
2010/11 - Europa League round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League group stage
2011/12 - Champions League round of 16
2012/13 - Europa League semi-final, having transferred from the Champions League play-offs
|Champions League qualifying|
|Jul 30||Maccabi Tel Aviv (3rd qual h)||W 1-0|
|Aug 6||Maccabi Tel Aviv (3rd qual a)||D 3-3|
|Aug 21||Ludogorets Razgrad (Play off a)||W 4-2|
|Aug 27||Ludogorets Razgrad (Play off h)||W 2-0|
European scorers (10): Salah 3, Schar 2 (2 pens), P Degan 1, Diaz 1, Frei 1, Sio 1, Stocker 1
|Champions League Group E|
|Sep 18||Chelsea (a)||W 2-1|
|Oct 1||Schalke (h)||L 0-1|
|Oct 22||Steaua Bucharest (a)||D 1-1|
|Nov 6||Steaua Bucharest (h)||D 1-1|
Champions League group scorers (4): Salah 1, Diaz 1, Sio 1, Streller 1
|Last six domestic results|
|Oct 6||Lausanne-Sport (a)||W 2-1|
|Oct 19||St Gallen (h)||W 3-0|
|Oct 27||FC Zurich (a)||D 0-0|
|Nov 2||Aarau (a)||D 1-1|
|Nov 10||Tuggen (Cup a)||W 3-1|
|Nov 23||Thun (h)||W 4-1|
|Swiss Super League top half|
|3||Young Boys Bern||15||+12||27|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Stephane Lannoy, his two assistant referees and two additional assistant referees are all from France. Lannoy's two previous Chelsea matches were the home victories over Bayer Leverkusen (2-0) in the 2011/12 Champions League group stage and Steaua Bucharest (3-1) in the Europa League Round of 16 earlier this year.
Europa League bookings list
Players receive a one-match suspension for accruing three and five yellow cards.
Basel (7): Schär 2, D Degan 1, Delgado 1, Diaz 1, Ivanov 1, Voser 1.
Chelsea (4): Cahill 1, Cole 1, Lampard 1, Van Ginkel 1.
For the second time in this group stage, Basel were deserved winners over Chelsea but Schalke's 0-0 draw away in Romania puts us through to the Champions League knockout stages.
The Blues came looking for the win that would guarantee top spot but that rarely looked on the cards. On a night when Samuel Eto'o was carried off on a stretcher, our attacking play did not record a shot on target, whereas in the first-half the enduring excellence of Petr Cech kept the home side at bay.
The second-half display by Chelsea was more solid but with their one genuine opening after the break, Basel scored late in the game through Mohamed Salah. There was no way back and we now need a win at Stamford Bridge against Steaua if we are to guarantee going into the last 16 draw as group stage winners.
Jose Mourinho made just one change to the starting line up from the weekend win over West Ham, Willian coming in and Eden Hazard making way and he retained the 4-3-3 shape used at Upton Park
He was also able to use Fernando Torres for the first time in four games, the Spaniard starting on the bench but seeing action before the interval.
John Terry, in making his 592nd Chelsea appearance, drew level with John Hollins as the club's fourth-highest appearance maker of all-time.
Hopes that the altered team shape that proved so successful in the last Premier League outing would dominate in a similar way didn't materialise on a freezing night on the banks of the upper Rhine.
The pattern for the opening period was set very early on when Valentin Stocker crossed menacingly having found space on the left. Marco Streller, the Basel centre-forward and captain, made no contact at the near post. Then Stocker was fouled out wide and Xhaka's free-kick was flighted past the white shirts in the area but not past Cech, who pushed the low ball away.
The pick of the defending in the first 10 minutes though, as the home side enjoyed all the pressure, came from Gary Cahill who was well-placed to slide another low cross behind as it reached the six-yard box, Basel this time having worked an overlap on the right.
Cech then scrambled a shot behind from Fabian Frei. It was not his most convincing save. From the corner, centre-back Ivan Ivanov made slight contact with his outstretched leg and Mikel, playing his 50th Champions League game, was required to clear off the line.
At last, 15 minutes in, Chelsea made an opening with the right boot of Ivanovic drilling over a cross that the out-stretched one of Eto'o couldn't quite reach to turn it on target. The Cameroonian's run had almost been the perfect one.
Basel went straight back down the other end and Salah's shot was tipped over by Cech. That was one of his better saves. As the pressure stayed on, Basel players and fans shouted loudly for a penalty when the ball bounced up off the turf and onto the side, then the arm of Lampard; nothing given by referee Lannoy from France.
Chelsea were not keeping the ball well enough to take any sort of grip on the game. When it fell to Mohamed Salah 10 yards out, he was again denied by the Chelsea keeper who was playing his 450th game for the club. This time it was one of his best saves.
Chelsea steadied the boat with some more careful possession around the half-hour. Cech came out of his area to clear a Basel attack upfield and it turned into one of our best passes of the game so far. Yann Sommer in the Basel goal came to claim just in front of the head of Eto'o when Willian floated a cross in.
Azpilicueta recovered well from an initial misjudgement to slide-tackle Salah inside the area when the winger would otherwise have truly tested Cech, before Xhaka became the game's first player booked for chopping Ivanovic on halfway.
On 39 minutes came a blow for the visitors from London. Eto'o, having gone for a ball behind the defence, pulled up as he decelerated and hit the turf, instantly asking to be replaced before being carried off. It didn't look good. Torres came on.
The first 10 minutes were relatively uneventful, but that at least signalled Chelsea were getting to grips with the Swiss advances better than before. Mourinho though wanted more from his team going forward and he introduced Eden Hazard with a significant part of the game still to play. Oscar made way.
The Belgian exchanged passes brightly with Torres early in his contribution, but then wasn't accurate with a ball to Ramires and a shooting chance evaporated.
Serey Die felled Hazard out wide at the cost of a card, and Lampard's low free-kick briefly threatened to worm a way through but was cleared. Mikel followed into the book soon after for catching Elneny.
As the game entered its final quarter, Chelsea began to find areas of space to operate within inside the Basel half. Were the home side, who badly needed the win, tiring? The end to the game proved not.
Ramires was booked for tripping Serey Die off the ball as Chelsea attacked; it looked an accidental contact.
Twice it needed some scrambled defending to keep Chelsea at bay as the game entered the final 10 minutes but then Serey Die struck a shot just past the post with Cech fully extended. That was the first time the Swiss champions had gone close since the interval.
Chelsea's underdoing was a straight-forward long ball from the back. Salah had managed to escape any marking down the left and finally he got the better of Cech, lifting the ball over the exposed keeper. There were 86 minutes played.
The half had been an even one but given the balance of the first period, Chelsea could have few complaints about the final result. It will need a better performance against Steaua at the Bridge in two weeks' time for top spot to be taken with comfort.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Mikel, Lampard; Oscar (Hazard 55), Eto'o (Torres 42), Willian (De Bruyne 86).
Unused subs Schwarzer, Cole, Schurrle, Mata.
Booked Mikel 64, Ramires 75.
Basel (4-1-4-1): Sommer; Voser, Schar, Ivanov, Xhaka (Ajeti 71); Serey Die; Salah, Elneny, Frei. Stocker (Sauro 90+2); Streller (c) (Sio 77).
Unused subs Vailati, P Degen, D Degen, Delgado.
Scorer Salah 86.
Booked Xhaka 37, Serey Die 62.
Referee Stephane Lannoy from France.