23 February 2012

A Big Day for Basel

Well, at least for FC Basel supporters (which I imagine is the majority of the city, particularly after today). In addition to dealing with the chaos following recent winter weather, the whole of Europe is also deeply immersed in the final stages of the UEFA Champions League (click the preceding words to be directed to the UCL homepage or, if you are unfamiliar with UEFA, skim this Wikipedia entry for some background info). Currently sitting six points clear at the top of the table, FC Basel is a perennial favorite in Swiss Super League (Switzerland’s domestic soccer league, akin to the MLS). This year the club has also demonstrated their skill during Continental play. Having finished second in Group C (including an impressive 1-0 victory over giants Manchester United), earlier today FC Basel added another notch to their European campaign.

Thanks to an 86th minute miracle goal from substitute Valentin Stocker, FC Basel pulled off a major upset against German powerhouse FC Bayern München. Considering that here have already been some great articles written about the outcome and significance of the match, so I won’t rehash the play-by-play here. Click appropriately if interested in match recap, photos, commentary from Bayern München president Uli Hoeness, or a “fairytale” news update from FC Basel.

Arguably this year’s Cinderella story (having recently drubbed Chelsea 3-1, Napoli is also a strong  contender for underdog team of the tournament), it will be exciting to see how far into the tournament FC Basel can extend their run. Their good form and impressive results are doubly (at least, if not more so) exciting given our close relationship with University Basel and high likelihood of an academic visit to St. Jakob-Park (the scene of today 1-0 victory and most often referred to as “Joggeli” by Baslers) during this May’s Global Perspectives Program. Routinely optimistic for FC Basel, I must acknowledge Bayern München’s run of 11 wins in 12 UEFA Champions League home matches. This might bring an abrupt halt to FC Basel’s UCL campaign. Still though, with one home-goal in their account, things could turn out quite positively after the second-leg match.

Be sure to tune in on 13 March 2012 (20:45 CET) and cheer loudly as FC Basel travels to Fußball Arena München to face FC Bayern München for their Round of 16 second-leg match.