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Saturday, July 14, 2012

FC Basel Takes Three Points Against Servette

Basel's captain Marco Streller

Basel with a dominant performance and a good display of unity with renovated squad 

FC Basel kicked off their Axpo Super League season with a full three points after they defeated FC Servette 1-0 on the opening day of the season. The Friday evening fixture was met with fair weather and a good reception from the faithful Servette fans in the French speaking region of Switzerland. FC Basel, despite several new signings and the promotion of some of their talented youth from their well-structured academy, fielded an experienced side with many familiar faces.

Veteran strikers Marco Streller and Alex Frei led the Basel attack, hoping for a season as successful as the last. Young Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer is also hoping for more success as his second season as first-choice goalkeeper kicks off. Last season Sommer caught the attention of many big clubs with his outstanding performances in the UEFA Champions League, Axpo Super League and Swiss Cup. Despite speculations, Sommer and his fellow Swiss youngster, winger Valentin Stocker will both remain with Basel at least until the January transfer window. In the midfield, a few changes were made to accommodate for the absences of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, both former starters for the Swiss Champions who left Basel for the Bundesliga in the summer. David Degan, the twin brother of Basel's outside defender Phillip, took Shariqi's former spot on the wing, netting his first goal of the season in the 59th minute. The familiar trio of Cabral and Yapi held the center midfield, which was vacated by the retirement of club legend Benjamin Huggel and the sale of Xhaka. Basel's back line was compiled of familiar faces. Steinhofer and Joo Ho Park played down the wings, helping the attack in Basel's favored 4-4-2 lineup while the solid defensive duo of Aleksandar Dragovic and Radoslav Kovac made up the center defense. 
The visiting side dominated in the opening minutes. Servette made the most of their attacking chances, outshooting Basel in the first half, but Basel had the most of the ball and worked it around the pitch in their favored passing style that was compared to Barcelona and Brazil after it was effectively used to defeat Manchester United on the last day of the group stages in the UEFA Champions League and to earn them several wins in the league. Basel looked relaxed and comfortable and although on paper the lead looked narrow, they proved on the pitch that the changes in their squad will likely have little effect on their league performances as long as they continue to adhere to their brilliant passing style. The back line had a few shaky moments and the midfield experienced a few miscues that led to an unnecessary turnover but as a whole the reigning Swiss Champions looked like a solid side that will certainly be a force to be reckoned with both domestically and on the European stage.  

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