Swiss club FC Basel will host Germany’s Bayern Munich on Feb. 22 when the first leg of their group-of-16 Champions League tie kicks off at St. Jakob Park in Basel. Bayern Munich sits in third place in the German Bundesliga with 45 points from 14 wins, three draws and five losses and are four points behind league-leading Borussia Dortmund. Basel are in first place in the Swiss Super League with 39 points from 11 wins, six draws and two defeats. They have a five-point lead on second-place Luzern.
Basel has been the surprise team of the tournament and they’ll be looking to keep up the momentum. It won’t be easy against Bayern Munich though as the team is filled with excellent international players such as Thomas Müller, Mario Gomez, Toni Kroos, and Philipp Lahm.
Most of Basel’s players are healthy for this match other than Scott Chipperfield and Philipp Degen who are both out of action due to thigh injuries. It looks like Markus Steinhofer will continue to play at right-back for the Swiss side. Midfielders Giles Yapi and Valentin Stocker should both be back in the squad after returning from injuries. Alexander Frei, Benjamin Huggel, Marco Streller, and Granit Xhaka will all have to play pretty clean games since they’re just one yellow card away from automatic suspensions.
Bayern manager Jupp Heyncke was disappointed with his team’s 0-0 draw in Freiburg on the weekend, but he’s expected to make just a couple of changes to the starting 11. Thomas Muller should play instead of Arjen Robben and David Alaba will likely fill in for centre half Bastian Schweinsteiger. Daniel van Buyten will likely miss the game due to an injury and Jerome Boateng will likely play centre back. Diego Contento and Breno will also likely miss the game with injuries.
Basel has only made it this far in the Champions League once before, which was in the 2002/03 season. One of their top players, Winger Xherdan Shaqiri, will move to Bayern Munich in the summer as a deal’s already been worked out with the German club for a fee that was reported to be €10 million. Basel entertained fans in the group stages, but allowed 10 goals in their six matches.
Bayern Munich beat Basel 2-1 in Switzerland back in September of 2010 in the Champions League and followed it up with a 3-0 win at home. Schweinsteiger scored both of the goals. However, Mario Gomez is leading the team during this year’s Champions league season with six goals, just one behind Lionel Messi of Barcelona. Alexander Frei has five for Basel so far.
Basel has won four and drawn once in their last five games with Munich winning three and drawing two in their past five. Basel should put up a good fight here, but they’ll likely come up just short and lose this home leg.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of an FC Basel victory set at 11/2 with a Bayern Munich win at 6/10 and a draw at 5/2.