We are back in Champions League action against Basel on Wednesday night and ahead of the game, Michael Cox examines their strengths, dangermen and the areas for us to target.
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After two-year spells with both Zurich and Thun, Urs Fischer was appointed last summer. Basel had won the previous six Swiss titles and therefore anything less would have been unacceptable, but Fischer took them to their highest points total during this period of incredible dominance.
The 50-year-old openly preaches the importance of creative football, and when Basel are in top form, they’re an excellent attacking side.
For Fischer, it’s clear system comes before players. He sticks to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation despite the availability of two quality centre forwards, the pacey Seydou Doumbia and 6ft 5in targetman Marc Janko. Basel’s centre forward for the opening matches of their league campaign has been: Doumbia, Janko, Doumbia, Janko, Doumbia, Janko, Doumbia.
The Swiss champions play quick, intricate passing football down the flanks, and tend to hold a high line.
Basel are technically excellent down the spine of the side. Marek Suchy and Eder Balanta offer a nice right/left-footed combination at the back and can bring the ball forward, Taulant Xhaka offers a solid midfield presence in the mould of his younger brother Granit, while Luca Zuffi plays some intelligent left-footed passes into wide areas.
Matias Delgado is a classic Argentine No 10 who roams between the lines and plays clever passes into attack. Now 33, he’s hardly the most dynamic attacking midfielder and rarely lasts 90 minutes, but Arsenal need to ensure he doesn’t have the freedom to dictate play and allow Basel to build spells of pressure.
AREAS TO TARGET
Basel are accustomed to playing dominant attacking football every weekend, but often struggle in European competition when forced to play a more cautious, reactive game. If the full-backs fly forward too quickly, the centre backs can become exposed, and Arsenal might get joy in the channels.
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