Basel vs. Manchester United Preview

Uefa Champions League

Football
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Published: 12/12/2011

Manchester United travel to Switzerland for their final Champions League group game on December 7 needing to avoid defeat against Basel if they are to safely progress through to the last 16 of the competition.

Losing is simply not an option for Alex Fergusonís men who will be surpassed by their opponents in the group table if they somehow manage to come unstuck.

Whilst the Red Devils head into the match as heavy 4/7 favourites, their task is far from straightforward against the useful Swiss champions who gave United more than they bargained for at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

Cruising towards a comfortable victory midway through the second half, United let a two goal lead slip as Basel hit back with three goals including a brace from international forward Alexander Frei.

Only a stoppage time strike from pre-season recruit Ashley Young spared the home teamís blushes and gained them a point which has proved to be vital leading into the final fixture of the group phase.

Ferguson will need to use every bit of his nouse and know how to guide his stuttering side through this tricky affair and the Scotís opposite number Heiko Vogel will be confident of pulling off a major shock at the bustling St. Jakob-Park.

Although United currently sit a fairly solid second in the Premier League table, their need for a result out of their final Champions League group game speaks volumes about how the team have not quite fired so far this campaign and how their season as a whole hangs in the balance in terms of challenging for silverware.

Usually, Ferguson would be allowed the luxury of fielding a weakened team in week six of Europeís premier club competition Ė however this time, it must take precedence over their domestic assault which is, at the moment, is being outgunned by arch rivals Manchester City.

United should get the job done however their odds of 4/7 to win the match certainly look rather short, considering that all they need is a draw to progress.

Naturally, Ferguson will not want to set his stall out for a stalemate and his team are likely to seek out the win and put qualification matters to bed before the ninety minutes are through.

Although the visitors will be feeling the pressure with qualification uncertain, it is Basel who really have it all to do as they have to win the game if they are to prolong their stay at Europeís top table and cause one of biggest upsets in the tournamentís history.

An attacking contest, therefore, should be in prospect as the home side will have to commit if they are to stand a chance.

This will consequently open the game up and that is likely to play into Manchester Unitedís hands with players such as Nani, Rooney, Welbeck and the aforementioned Young in their ranks.

Coupled with the fact that the reverse fixture between the teams generated a plethora of goals, the Over 2.5 market at around 4/6 looks remarkable value and a near banker by all accounts.

United will probably be able to overpower their opponents over the course of ninety minutes but with their defence also looking shaky to say the least, a wager on Alex Frei to net again for Basel also holds decent claims at what should be healthy odds against.

Even if United manage to come away with the win, they may struggle to better Benficaís goal average with the Portuguese set to stroll past group whipping boys Otelul galati who have lost all five games so far.

Manchester United should remain in the competition post December 7 however a runners-up finish in the group is sure to leave them facing a daunting second round match and a real fight on their hands to stick around in Europe much longer.


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