FC BASEL, A FAMILIAR FACE FROM ST JAKOB PARK
As we wrote just over two years ago, FC Basel is the Feyenoord of Switzerland. Coach Christian Gross’s team not only play in a similar jersey (although the Swiss have opted for blue and white), they are the only club of the people in the country. Basel’s St Jakob-Park stadium is frequently packed with over 30,000 passionate fans. That helped the club excel in the Champions League a few seasons back. FC Basel currently stands fifth in the Swiss league.
Gross still has a strong squad, with a lot of familiar names, including former Eredivisie players Daniel Majstorovic and Cristiano, Japan international Koji Nakata, Australian internationals Scott Chipperfield and Mile Sterjovski, as well as playmaker Mladen Petric.
FC Basel progressed to the group stages by knocking out Macedonian outfit Rabotnicki. A 0-1 win in Skopje was followed by a 6-2 victory on home soil. The last time Feyenoord reached this stage of the Uefa Cup, FC Basel were also one of their opponents. Feyenoord progressed to the next round on that occasion, despite going down to the only goal of the game in Switzerland when the clubs met. The clubs also met in the competition in 2000, when the Rotterdammers won 1-2 in Basle and 1-0 at De Kuip.
19 OCTOBER: FC BASEL-FEYENOORD BLACKBURN ROVERS, EMERTON AND MORE
Like almost every team in the Premiership, the Blackburn squad is full of familiar names, not least Brett Emerton, who won the Uefa Cup with Feyenoord in 2002. Coach Mark Hughes also has players of the calibre of Shabani Nonda, Benni McCarthy, keeper Brad Friedel, Francis Jeffers, Robbie Savage and former PSV player André Ooijer. Norwegian playmaker Morten Gamst Pedersen is also an important player for Rovers.
Blackburn advanced to this stage of the competition by seeing off Salzburg (2-0, 2-2). The club is currently ninth in the Premiership.
23 NOVEMBER: FEYENOORD-BLACKBURN AS NANCY-LORRAINE, UNKNOWN BUT CERTAINLY STRONG
Historically, AS Nancy’s main claim to fame is that they were Michel Platini’’s first club, but nowadays coach Pablo Correo’s team are making headlines of their own. Nancy qualified for the Uefa Cup by winning the French cup last season and the club are currently third in the league after an impressive start.
There are few names with international allure at Nancy, although the French club’s squad does include Brazilian André Luiz and Nigerian striker Tosin Dosunmu.
That said, Nancy’s victory over Schalke’04 in the first round, including a 3-1 home win, possibly makes the Frenchmen the group favourites and Feyenoord will have to be at their best to get anything from the game when the two sides meet at Nancy’s Stade Marcel-Picot.
30 NOVEMBER: AS NANCY- FEYENOORD WISLA KRAKOW, POLISH POWER
Wisla Krakow is one of the most famous clubs in Poland. The current number three in the league has won ten titles in its history, five of them since 1998, proving that the club is the strongest in the country right now. Former Chelsea player and Romanian international Dan Petrescu coached Wisla until recently, but the poor start to the season led to his dismissal and Serb Dragomir Okuka now holds the position of head coach. Okuka won the league with Wisla in 2002 and the hopes are that he will be able to bring back the glory days.
The Wisla squad is a mix of home-grown talent and imports from eastern Europe, although the club also employs two Brazilians and even an Australian who once played for Feyenoord: Jacob Burns. Once being the operative word.
13/14 DECEMBER: FEYENOORD – WISLA KRAKOW