Thursday, 15 September 2011

Champions League in Basel

As some of you may know, Manchester United are my football club of choice. And they've been drawn with FC Basel in the group stages of this season's Champions League. The last time this happened was in the 2002/2003 season when I watched the two fixtures between both clubs in Basel and Manchester respectively. For Basel's home fixture versus United back then, I had to resort to drastic measures and obtain a ticket through, shall we say, "unofficial means". For the match at Old Trafford, my ticket was bought at face-value from a good friend and fellow United fan.

Happily, procuring a ticket for Basel's home match was a lot easier this time. Nevertheless, doing so entailed purchasing the full three-match package - which also included the visit of Romania's relative unknowns FC Oțelul Galați last night, plus that of Portugal's Benfica in October. United don't arrive in Basel until December.

Nevertheless, forgoing the delights of Benfica vs. United on television, we turned up at St. Jakob Park yesterday evening for Basel's first match.

Now, I knew nothing about FC Oțelul other than the fact that coach Dorinel Munteanu had played for Romania a record number of times. He'd also plied his trade in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg for a number of years - hence it came as no surprise that his team were a well-drilled outfit, if nothing else. Basel had a lot of trouble breaking down their defence, and their 2-1 win was slightly flattering. But a win's a win. And after the 1-1 stalemate between Benfica and United, FCB are now perched at the top of group C.

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