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FOOTBALL

Basel ‘ready for battle’ in Champions League clash

Swiss champions Basel have a respectable record in Europe in recent seasons and fancy their chances of springing a surprise when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Basel 'ready for battle' in Champions League clash
Basel training in Paris. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

“We have not come to Paris to take selfies,” warned Basel's Ivory Coast midfielder Geoffroy Serey Die ahead of the game at the Parc des Princes.
   
“Whether Paris are in form or not doesn't matter to us, we have come here to get a result.
   
“We know Paris are a very good team. Their strength is when they have the ball. We are ready for battle.”
   
Urs Fischer's Basel have picked up just one point from their opening two Group A games after losing 2-0 away to Arsenal in their last outing but they have claimed famous wins against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in recent seasons.
   
They also arrive in France as an utterly dominant force in Swiss football, with a 14-point lead at the top of the table just 11 games into the season.
   
Such domestic dominance is something PSG have enjoyed in recent times, but less so this season.
   
Under Unai Emery they are still trying to find their feet, although they have won their last three games and in Edinson Cavani they have the in-form striker in Europe just now.
   
Cavani has scored 16 goals for club and country this season, including three in the Champions League in two games and what proved to be the winner at Nancy in Ligue 1 at the weekend.
   
He will lead the Paris attack but Italian midfielder Thiago Motta is set to miss the game with a buttock muscle problem as Paris look to keep up with Arsenal in the fight for top spot in the section. Both sides have four points from two outings.
   
“The first goal is qualification. But if we can have first place as the icing on the cake that'd be good,” midfielder Blaise Matuidi said.
   
“For that we need a win tomorrow (Wednesday) and to see what happens after. The game against Basel will be difficult, but we're prepared. We expect a difficult game, but that's how it is in the Champions League.”
   
Coach Emery added: “This is an important match. We want to stay in first place. We are playing in front of our fans and so it is important to win and play well.”

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FOOTBALL

‘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. 

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