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Sunday, November 18, 2012

FC Basel 4-0 Grasshopper FC

Frei makes no mistake in beating Burki
FC Basel played hosts to the current league leaders and their Axpo Super League rivals at St. Jakob Park this afternoon, putting on an exceedingly impressive display of tactical organization and individual skill.

From Yann Sommer between the posts to Basel's malleable attack the organization that Murat Yakin's men displayed on the pitch was top class. Grasshoppers hardly saw any of the ball, causing some major frustrations for the usually dominant Steven Zuber on the wing and Nassim Ben Khalifa up front as the lone striker. Zuber was still a standout player, creating a majority of the chances for Grasshoppers along with Toko in the midfield but neither of them really caused Sommer too much concern, especially from distance.
The home side netted their first of the match in the sixth minute when midfielder Yapi made a brilliant dummy right in front of the Grasshoppers goal, allowing the unmarked David Degen to run into the box and slot a smooth finish into the far corner past Burki. Basel had settled into their passing rhythm almost immediately, not allowing much possession for Grasshoppers but the visitors made the most of their time with the ball and pressed hard up the field giving Basel's back line a run for their money.
Like many matches between two historical rivals, plenty of free kicks and yellow cards were issued. Stocker's first of the game for Basel was cleared but found the feet of Steinhofer inside the eighteen-yard box, giving the defender a glorious opportunity to display his lack of attacking skills. Marco Streller found the back of the net in the eighteenth minute, but he was offside by about a yard and Grasshopper escaped unharmed at the discretion of the referee.
Basel kept the clean sheet for the first half as their goalkeeper was hardly called upon. Of the few chances that Grasshoppers made, only a small handful of them were left for Sommer to handle. Aleksandar Dragovic and Fabian Schar played their usual game of solid defending and decisive tackling. Grasshoppers defensive midfield, on the other hand, were having a hard time mirroring the organization and communication between the defense and the attack that Basel were displaying. Taulant Xhaka, former FC Basel player, hardly touched the ball as a defensive mid and his counterpart Toko attempted to help his attack break up the Basel defense but on several occasions found himself pushed up too far.
Coming into the second half with the 1-0 lead, Basel made no attempt to back off in the attack. Their defense may have been a little sleepy, as Sommer was forced to make two saves early on, but they quickly got into a nice rhythm much like in the first half. In the 54th minute Stocker and Streller connected but Roman Burki was quick off his line and collected the loose ball. Two minutes later, Stephane Grichting brought Valentin Stocker down just inside the box and the referee didn't hesitate to point to the penalty spot. The captain Marco Streller in his lovely Phantom of the Opera mask protecting a broken nose stepped up and converted the penalty to give Basel the 2-0 lead.
In the 70th minute, Yakin brought on Alex Frei, who earlier this week announced that at the end of the 2012/2013 campaign he would be ending his long career with Basel. The beloved legend took only one minute to find the back of the net. He and Stocker connected for a second time eight minutes later to make the final score 4-0.
Basel secured a vital three points if they wish to make it into a Champions League spot in the top two of the Axpo Super League table at the end of the season. They also did a huge favor for the other teams chasing the top spot (FC St. Gallen and FC Sion) at the very tight top of the table.

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