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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sporting Lisbon 0-0 FC Basel

Streller and his men settle for the draw

The reigning Swiss Champions FC Basel secure an important point in Lisbon with a display of tactical brilliance which can be credited to German coach Heiko Vogel and his assistants.

Praised as a "tactical masterpiece" by the commentary team, Heiko Vogel's men played out a solid 90 minutes in Portugal against the favored Sporting Lisbon. From the starting whistle, Basel were able to maintain an organized back line which broke up nearly all of the menacing attacks from the Portuguese giants, forcing them to resort to long-range efforts which were well dealt with by Yann Sommer in the Basel goal. Along with Basel's two holding center midfielders, the defense was the star of the show tonight. With a little more luck Basel could have gone back with all three points from their first Europa League fixture, but Sporting were able to hold them off with an equally organized defense despite going down to ten men in the second half when Xandao saw red in the 50th minute.
FC Basel's passing and organized transitions helped them deal with the high pressure and speedy attacks from the Portuguese hosts. Sporting had incredible speed both on their wings and through the middle and their organized attacks certainly caused some disturbances in back for the visitors. Dragovic, Sauro, Park and Steinhofer held strong though and on several occasions they were able to turn the attack from Sporting against them and nearly create a good goal scoring opportunity. 
Basel held the majority of the possession and conceded the least number of fouls throughout the entire match but they took less shots than Sporting. Their best chance came in the form of a free header from Aleksandar Dragovic in the twenty-third minute but he wasn't able to get it on frame. Their organization made it possible for Basel to switch up their attack, usually building from the back and switching to the wing but sometimes resorting to a long ball up front to their towering forward and team captain Marco Streller. Streller had some good chances throughout the match himself and was a constant thorn in the side of the Lisbon defense. 
Up front for Sporting, striker Andre Carrillo caused some worries, clearly wielding a rocket shot but luckily for the visitors none of his efforts were on frame. Many of Sporting's long range attempts were blasted over the bar and into the home crowd. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was another concern for the Basel defense and did well to weasel his way into good positions to score when the ball was being carried up the wing as well as showing his skill when he tried to penetrate the back line on his own. He forced some impressive saves from Sommer throughout the night while Rui Patricio had little work to do at the other end.
Patricio would thank his crossbar in the fifty-fifth minute when Diaz's powerful shot from way outside the box took a sudden dip and smacked off of the woodwork rather than hitting the back of the net. Diaz's shot was one of the only ones on frame for Basel, but they continued to dominate in their attacking half for the duration of the match. Sporting had difficulty holding their high line of pressure with Basel's continuous switch in the attack and they backed down until the closing minutes of the game.
Despite being favorites coming into the match, Sporting Lisbon were lucky to savor the point after the Swiss side's tactics allowed them to dominate the match. The Portuguese had good chances but their defensive display after doing down to ten men early in the second half was the real highlight of their evening. Basel could have taken home all three points, but Vogel's men settled for the scoreless draw and will be looking for a better result in their next Group G fixture. Genk take the lead at the top of the group after they defeated Videoton 3-0. 

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