STILL LOTS TO PLAY FOR IN BASLE

Whichever way you spell it – Basle in English, Basel in German or Bâle in French – qualification is already a fact for Feyenoord going into Thursday’s final Uefa Cup Group A fixture, but the Rotterdammers’ Swiss opponents will probably need a win to stay in the competition. It’s been a slippery slope for Christian Gross’s side, which started the season in the qualifying stages of the Champions League. There was a 1-4 loss to Inter Milan in that first game and things haven’t got a lot better since.

Feyenoord may be assured a place in the third round, but the complicated draw scenario means that a place at the top of the group would probably be a plus. The various group winners will be drawn against the third-placed teams, while second place in the group will mean an opponent that has finished third in the group stages of the Champions League, and that includes Valencia, Fenerbahce and Dynamo Kyiv. ‘I’m taking this match very seriously,’ says Ruud Gullit. ‘We want to do everything we can to finish first.’

That said, the knowledge that a draw is enough to secure top berth in the table surely helped Gullit in his decision to leave Karim Saidi, Shinji Ono and Hossam Ghaly at home and the coach may be tempted to test a couple of things out. Especially in defence where Feyenoord continue to have problems with incoming free kicks and corners.

The chance that Bart Goor will start the match is also minimal by the way. The Belgian is suffering from an ingrown toenail.

The coach remains typically tight-lipped about his formation, but with the loss of so many first-choice players – and that includes Romeo Castelen, who is not fully fit – the draw would seem to be a good return. 

Uefa Cup, Round 2, Group A

FC BASEL-FEYENOORD

16 December 2004

8.45 pm

St. Jakob-Park stadium, Basel 

LIKELY LINE-UPS

FC BASEL
Zuberbühler; Kléber, Quennoz, Zwyssig; P. Degen, Barberis, Huggel, Chipperfield, Rossi; Carignano, Gimenez 

FEYENOORD
Lodewijks; Song, Loovens, Paauwe, Mtiliga (Basto); Castelen (Smolarek), Buffel, Bosschaart, Magrao (Goor); Kuyt, Kalou

GROUP A STANDINGS
Feyenoord 7 points from 3 games
Schalke 7 points from 4 games
Basel 4 points from 3 games
Hearts 3 points from 3 games
Ferencváros 1 point from 3 games

GROUP A FIXTURES
FC Basel-Feyenoord
Hearts-Ferencváros

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