FC Zurich vs. FC Basel
Swiss Super League
October 28th, 2017
It was only just over a month ago that FC Zurich and FC Basel last did battle but one of the more hotly-anticipated games in the Swiss Super League calendar rolls around again just before Halloween. Second vs. third, with both sides with their eyes locked firmly on Young Boys above them. It is a mouth-watering clash at the Letzigrund and for either, defeat is a very frightful proposition.
When these two met on September 23rd, the contrasting emotions for both sides were clear to see. FC Zurich were flying high as they travelled to the home of the Swiss champions, they had made an unbeaten start to the season, a run which threatened to reach nine games at St. Jakob-Park while Basel had not won a league game for over a month and had lost their previous two, which included a home defeat to bottom side Lausanne. Basel simply needed to win against their arch-rivals.
In the end, Basel would win a game that was much more controversial than the 1-0 scoreline suggests. It was far from a reinvigorated Basel. They did not perform any better than they had been. In truth, Zurich should’ve taken the lead through Michael Frey, who missed a golden opportunity, and then when Basel took the lead through Dimitri Oberlin, the referee should’ve called for a foul after a push from Suchy on a Zurich defender. For all the “ifs and buts” though, Basel needed a stroke of luck and they simply weren’t caring how they won, just that they won, regardless of how aggrieved Zurich were at full time.
Fast-forward to the present and things could not be looking much rosier for Basel at present. They do still occupy second and are behind Young Boys by five points, but there is real belief that Basel are returning to their best and can catch the league leaders. Since that 1-0 victory over Zurich, FCB smashed Benfica 5-0 in the Champions League and have recorded four further wins over Lugano, CSKA Moscow in the Champions League away from home, FC Thun and Challenge League side Rapperswil-Jona in the Swiss Cup. A point earned away at one of the form teams in the league, Grasshoppers, was not bad either.
As for Zurich, they went from being unbeaten in eight to having lost two of their last four. Their four draws before the Basel game ensured a winless run that stretched to five games before much-needed wins over Lugano and Thun to keep themselves in the title race. More worrying though was the demolition job in the 249th edition of the Zurich derby against Grasshoppers. They were well beaten by their rivals by a 4-0 scoreline and another defeat to Basel coupled with Young Boys winning would certainly end Zurich’s interest in the title, even at this stage of the season.
Basel have won the last three meetings between these sides and Zurich haven’t won at home vs. Basel since 2013. They are now in a position that they need to win, although Urs Meier is not under the same scrutiny that Raphael Wicky was, at least from me and some others.
It is the flagship game of Round 13. It is always a fiery, dramatic and often controversial encounter when Zurich and Basel meet, regardless of the venue or competition. If you don’t know, just read about one infamous meeting in 2006 to see why this game is massive for both sets of supporters. Saturday promises more of the same, perhaps not on the same scale, but the victor will certainly inflict a body blow on their opponents chances of claiming the title this year.
You can follow all the action from FC Zurich vs. FC Basel over @FootballSwiss as well as coverage for all the other games from Round 13 this weekend.
YB are out in front but it remains tight at the top in Switzerland.