‘Better’ Basel brace for Real Madrid challenge

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has insisted his side won't let up despite already securing their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as they seek a club record-equalling 15th consecutive win away to Basel on Wednesday.

'Better' Basel brace for Real Madrid challenge
Basel coach Paulo Sousa insists FC Basel have improved since last game against Real Madrid. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

The European champions winning run began with a 5-1 thrashing of the Swiss side back in September and could still have a pivotal role to play in deciding who joins them in the knockout phase.
Basel sit second on six points, three ahead of Champions League debutants Ludogorets Razgrad and Liverpool who meet in Bulgaria on Wednesday.
"The players are motivated to ensure that everything goes well. The players are working hard, fighting, sacrificing themselves on the pitch to ensure this good run keeps going," said the Italian.
Los Blancos have twice strung together 15 straight wins under Miguel Munoz in the 1960-61 season and three seasons ago with Jose Mourinho in charge.
"The most important thing is to play well. We have got to this stage because we have played with concentration," added Ancelotti.
"The records are part of the history of Real Madrid. We haven't thought about it a lot. Obviously it is important, but we will only achieve it playing like we have been until now."
Ancelotti confirmed the star trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will continue in attack with the Portuguese looking to overtake Madrid legend Raul's mark of 71 Champions League goals.
"I don't think the team will change that much from the one that played against Eibar. I have a few doubts over the full-backs, there are a few that are tired, but up front they will be the same."
Pepe and Sami Khedira didn't travel with their teammates to Switzerland due to minor injuries, so Raphael Varane will start in central defence alongside Sergio Ramos.
Varane became France's youngest ever captain at 21 when he led his side and scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Sweden last week, but has found first team opportunities harder to come by at club level.
"It is different. I play more minutes with the national team and I have more responsiblity," he said.
"My objective is to obtain that same level of responsibility with Real Madrid."
Basel's Portuguese coach Paulo Sousa insists his side have improved since the first meeting between the teams, and he also claimed he is looking forward to the challenge of taking on countryman Ronaldo.
"It wasn't easy at the Bernabeu, I was trying to set up my team, my ideas, my philosophy," he said.
"We had some chances but we conceded a lot of goals.
"It's never easy over there against such amazing players, they really do have incredible attacking potential.
"As a Portuguese I'm delighted to see Ronaldo at this level, I always like coming up against the best players.
"Since September we've had a chance to work hard, to implement our ideas and now we're better."

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‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said.