Manchester United return with Basel visit
Manchester United FC make their return to the UEFA Champions League against FC Basel 1893, who have caused them problems in the past.
• United qualified for this season’s competition by winning the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League, with last season just the second time in 22 years they had missed out on the UEFA Champions League.
• The three-time European champions will be looking to start Group A with a home victory against a Basel side unbeaten on their two previous vjisits to Old Trafford.
• The teams first met in the 2002/03 second group stage, United winning the first game in Switzerland 3-1 with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring twice. Ole Gunnar Solskjær got United’s clinching third goal after Christian Giménez had given Basel a first-minute lead.
• Giménez was also on target in Manchester on 12 March 2003, his 14th-minute strike helping Basel to a 1-1 draw with Gary Neville claiming United’s equaliser.
• Basel earned another, crucial point at Old Trafford in the 2011/12 group stage. Two goals from Danny Welbeck (16, 17) put United in charge only for Fabian Frei (58) and an Alexander Frei double (61, 76pen) to leave Basel on the verge of a famous win; however Ashley Young salvaged a draw for United in the 90th minute.
• The teams at Old Trafford on 27 September 2011 were:
United: De Gea, Fábio (Nani 69), Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Anderson (Berbatov 82), Carrick, Giggs (Park 61), Young, Welbeck.
Basel: Sommer, Park, Dragović, Cabral, Steinhöfer, Zoua, G Xhaka, Abraham, F Frei (Chipperfield 77), Streller (Pak 81), A Frei (T Xhaka 89).
• There would be no escape for United in Switzerland on matchday six though. Needing a point to clinch second place in the section, United fell behind to Marco Streller’s ninth-minute opener and their fate was effectively sealed when Alexander Frei made it 2-0 with six minutes to go, despite Phil Jones pulling one back in the 89th minute. The result left Basel second in Group C and United third.
• United completed a clean sweep of European trophies with victory in last season’s UEFA Europa League. The win against AFC Ajax in Stockholm added to their European Cup triumphs in 1968, 1999 and 2008 and their 1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup success.
• United have already played in Europe this term, losing 2-1 to Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje on 8 August.
• That defeat by Madrid ended United’s 11-match unbeaten run (W8 D3) since a 2-1 reversal at Fenerbahçe SK on matchday four of last season’s UEFA Europa League. The loss in Istanbul had been their fifth in nine European matches.
• This is United’s 21st appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and only four times have they failed to make the next round. Two of those eliminations have come in their last four participations however; the English club finished third in their section in both 2011/12 and on their last appearance in 2015/16.
• United are unbeaten in 18 European home games (W14 D4), going back to a 2-1 home loss to Real Madrid in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg. The 1-1 draw with RC Celta de Vigo in last season’s UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg (2-1 aggregate) halted a six-match winning home run.
• Their four games with Basel are United’s only fixtures against Swiss clubs.
• 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.
• The Swiss team are without a victory in their last eight European matches, home and away (D3 L5), since a 2-1 home success against AS Saint-Étienne on 25 February 2016.
• Basel were eliminated from Europe last season following a 4-1 home defeat by Arsenal FC on 6 December 2016 – just their fifth loss in 22 European home games since the start of 2013/14.
• The Swiss side also went down 2-0 at Arsenal in last autumn’s group stage, ending a four-game unbeaten streak against Premier League clubs.
• Basel’s record against English teams is W6 D8 L12; away it is W1 D5 L7.
• Last season’s reverse in north London was Basel’s first UEFA Champions League away defeat in England, on their sixth visit (W1 D4).
• Basel have not won in five European away matches (D1 L4) having won four of their previous five. The 0-0 draw at PFC Ludogorets Razgrad on matchday five last season halted a four-game losing sequence on the road.
Coach and player links
• José Mourinho was Chelsea manager when they played Basel in the 2013/14 group stage, the Swiss outfit winning 2-1 in London on matchday one and 1-0 at home. Juan Mata played in both fixtures.
• Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored Sporting Clube de Portugal’s penalty winner in a 1-0 victory over Nemanja Matić’s SL Benfica on 9 April 2012, and was also on target in a 3-1 Sporting loss on 10 December that year.
• Mata struck twice in United’s 4-0 home win against a Norwich City FC side including Van Wolfswinkel on 26 April 2014. Van Wolfswinkel was a substitute when Norwich fell 1-0 at home to United on 28 December 2013.
• Have played together:
Eric Bailly & Geoffroy Serey Dié (Ivory Coast)
Zlatan Ibrahimović, Victor Lindelöf & Alexander Fransson (Sweden)
• Phil Jones and Bailly serve one-match bans.
• United have won each of their first three Premier League games this season without conceding a goal.*
• Romelu Lukaku has scored eight goals in six outings for club and country this term. Lukaku, who registered a hat-trick in Belgium’s 9-0 victory over Gibraltar in the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup on 31 August, also had a penalty saved in the 2-0 home win against Leicester City FC.*
• Lukaku headed the winner against Greece (2-1) on 3 September, a result that made Belgium the first European team to join hosts Russia at next summer’s World Cup. Marouane Fellaini also started.
• Marcus Rashford’s second international goal earned England a 2-1 home win against Slovakia 24 hours later.
• Ibrahimović, who re-signed for the club late last month, is on the 24-strong shortlist to be named The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2017. The winner will be announced on 23 October.
• Basel have 11 points from six Swiss Super League fixtures this term – seven fewer than they had at the same stage last season.*
• The RotBlau have lost only two league games in 2017, both away to BSC Young Boys. The most recent of those defeats was a 2-0 reverse on the opening weekend of the campaign.*
• Summer signing Van Wolfswinkel has scored in each of his last five league appearances for Basel, six goals in total.*
*Subject to weekend updates