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FOOTBALL

Basel keeps Champions League hopes alive

Chelsea reached the last 16 of the Champions League football tournament despite going down to a 1-0 defeat to Basel in Switzerland on Tuesday, Mohamed Salah scoring the only goal with three minutes remaining.

Basel keeps Champions League hopes alive
Basel players celebrate victory against top British club. Photo Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Salah latched on to a long ball forward by Fabian Schaer and outpaced Branislav Ivanovic as he cut in from the left before finishing past Petr Cech to hand the hosts a thoroughly deserved victory and keep their hopes of joining Chelsea in the last 16 alive heading into the final round of matches.
   
It was Basel's second win against the Premier League club in this season's competition and propelled them into second place in the group above Schalke, who only managed a goalless draw away to Steaua Bucharest in the night's other match.
   
That result was good news for Chelsea too, as they are now certain to take one of the top two spots in the group.
 
 However, they still have work to do if they are to clinch first place, with a home game against Steaua to come, and manager Jose Mourinho was deeply disappointed with what was a flat display by his side, three days after they had thumped West Ham United 3-0 away in the Premier League.
 
 "The only positive thing is that we go through, but we go through because Schalke did not get a result," said the Portuguese.
   
"But I do not want to take any credit from the opponent as they were better than us," he said.

 "I think from the first minute I was getting signs that my team was tired (and) the goal is ridiculous."
   
His frustration contrasted with the delight of opposite number Murat Yakin, who described Basel's victory as "wonderful".
   
"At half-time I congratulated my team for playing fantastic football," Yakin said.

"It was a more even game after the restart, but the team knew it was possible and we kept fighting to win the three points," he said.
   
Mourinho had made just one change to his side, with Willian replacing Eden Hazard, who dropped to the bench alongside the fit-again Fernando Torres.
   
And his decision not to rotate his squad meant they also lacked freshness, as the Blues produced a lacklustre performance in a game played in sub-zero temperatures.
   
That was reflected in the statistics, with Basel having more of the possession and all the chances in what was an outstanding first-half showing in particular.
   
Chelsea only came close to scoring once in the opening period, when Samuel Eto'o, diving in at the back post, just failed to connect with an Ivanovic cross from the right, while Basel brought the best out of Cech on several occasions.
   
The Czech goalkeeper needed to be alert to keep out Marco Streller's header from a Valentin Stocker free-kick inside three minutes, and that early scare for Chelsea set the tone for the opening half an hour.
   
Basel, with seven players aged 24 or under in their starting line-up, were by far the livelier of the two teams, and Cech was also called into action to turn Fabian Frei's shot from long range around the post before twice denying the talented Egyptian Salah.

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BASEL

Is Basel the best Swiss city for foreigners and Geneva the worst?

Switzerland’s cities usually nab top rankings in international quality of living studies. But in a new survey, only one Swiss town made it to the top 10. Here’s why.

Basel is Switzerland’s best city for international workers. Photo by Nadine Marfurt on Unsplash
Basel is Switzerland’s best city for international workers. Photo by Nadine Marfurt on Unsplash

Basel is ranked in the 9th place out of 57 cities surveyed in the new Expat City Ranking 2021.

Carried out by InterNations, the annual survey rates cities around the world in terms of advantages they offer to foreign nationals who move there for professional reasons.

READ MORE: The best commuter towns if you work in Basel

The survey, which polled 12,420 people for its 2021 edition, ranks cities based on criteria such as Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, Finance & Housing, and Local Cost of Living, along with their sub-categories.

Of the four Swiss cities analysed in the study — Geneva, Zurich, Basel, and Lausanne — only Basel was highly rated, and is one of only three European cities ranked in the top 10 (the others are Prague, in 7th place, and Madrid in 10th).

This is why

A popular destination for international employees because of its pharmaceutical industry, including giants like Roche and Novartis, Basel ranked well across all categories.

For instance, it is in the 1st place for its public transportation network, in a 2nd position in terms of Quality of Urban Living, and in 3rd for Safety & Politics.

All expats in Basel (100 percent) are satisfied with public transportation, versus 69 percent globally. The public transportation system is excellent”, one respondent said.

Nearly all participants (97 percent) feel safe there, against 84 percent globally. The city also performs well in the Urban Work Life Index (6th), particularly for the state of the local economy, which is in the 1st place and the working hours (8th); additionally,  75 percent are happy with their working hours, compared to 66 percent globally.

More than four in five expats (84 percent) find their disposable household income enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (versus 77 percent globally), and 77 percent are satisfied with their financial situation (against 64 globally).

Where Basel is doing less well is in the  Finance & Housing Index (34th place), though it still ranks ahead of other Swiss cities: Zurich (37th), Lausanne (39th), and Geneva (53rd).

But the city ranks 48th in the Local Cost of Living Index: 69 percent of foreigners living there are dissatisfied with the cost of living, more than double the global average (34 percent).

The Getting Settled Index (39th) is another of Basel’s weak points. Internationals struggle with getting used to the local culture: more than one in four respondents (26 percent) state that they find this difficult — this figure is 18 percent 1globally.

It is worth mentioning that in the 2020 InterNations survey, Basel ranked in the 24th place, so it progressed impressively this year.

What about Geneva?

Switzerland’s most “international” city due to the presence of a number of United Nations agencies and multinational companies, places near the bottom of the ranking, in the 47th place.

“It has the worst results among the Swiss cities included in the report and is the only one that does not rank in the global top 10 of the Quality of Urban Living Index”, InterNations said.

Similar to the other Swiss cities, Geneva ranks among the top 10 for political stability (1st) and in the bottom 10 for the affordability of healthcare (56th). However, it lags behind for all other factors, with expats particularly dissatisfied with the local leisure options (23 percent versus 14 percent globally).

“Interestingly, the comparably low quality of life does not make Geneva any easier to afford: on the contrary, it is the worst-ranking city worldwide in the Local Cost of Living Index (57th) and by far the worst-rated Swiss city in the Finance & Housing Index (53rd)”, the report noted.

It added that “while Geneva comes 26th in the Finance Subcategory, it ranks 55th in the Housing Subcategory, only ahead of Dublin (56th) and Munich (57th). Expats find housing in Geneva unaffordable (87 percent  vs. 39 percent globally) and hard to find (63 percent vs. 23 percent globally).”

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland?

Geneva has a fairly average performance in the Urban Work Life Index (28th) but receives worse results in the Getting Settled Index (43rd). It ends up in the bottom 10 of the Feeling Welcome (52nd), Local Friendliness (50th), and Friends & Socializing (48th) subcategories.

“It is certainly not easy to integrate into the local culture and community,” said one respondent. In fact, 35 percent find the locals generally unfriendly, against 16 percent globally).

The difficulty is making friends in Switzerland is a well-known phenomenon among the international community.

READ MORE: ‘Suspicious of the unknown’: Is it difficult to make friends in Switzerland?

Maybe this is also why they find it hard to get used to the local culture (32 percent versus  18 percent globally) and do not feel at home — 33 percent compared to 19 percent  globally).

Zurich and Lausanne

The two other Swiss cities with a high proportion of international residents fall between the “best” and the “worst”, with Lausanne in the 21st place and Zurich in the 34th.

“All of them rank among the bottom 10 worldwide for the local cost living but among the top 10 for the local quality of life— except for Geneva, which lands in 21st place.”, the survey noted.

This InterNations chart shows how the four the cities are doing in each category. Please click here for a larger version of the chart. 

Image: Internations

You can find out more about each of the four cities from these links. 

READ MORE: Ten things Zurich residents take for granted

Zurich versus Geneva: Six big differences between Switzerland’s two biggest cities

Swiss town ranked the ‘world’s best small city’

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