FC Basel face BSC Young Boys in Berne tonight knowing that victory will secure them their first Swiss league championship title in 22 years.
Basel have run away with the first division this season and victory tonight would ensure the earliest championship success since the introduction of the new format in the Swiss league. The previous record was set by Grasshopper-Club who had the title wrapped up by 4 May in 1996.
Ten points clear
After finishing the winter well clear of their nearest rivals, Basel have refused to give way during the springtime championship round and five consecutive wins have now put Christian Gross's side ten points clear of second-placed FC Lugano and a win away from next season's UEFA Champions League qualifying round. "We want the title and we will grab our chance," Gross said. "In Berne we will be all-out attack."
Impressive home form
Young Boys will not let Gross's side have it all their own way though as they have been in impressive form at their Neufeld stadium of late, winning four out of five home matches this year. However, Marco Schällibaum, the Young Boys coach, has a depleted squad to select from with seven players missing.
Lengthy injury list
Forward Martin Fryand has a stomach infection, Artur Petrosyan and Alain Rochat are suspended, and Mark Disler, Sadik Coubadja, Andrea Rotanzi and Herve Bochud are all injured. Despite the missing players, Young Boys' captain, Erich Hänzi, is determined that his side put up a good performance. "We will not chicken out," he said. "We will do everything to prevent Basel celebrating their title at our stadium."
‘We need the points’
His coach agreed: "We would rather see Basel partying after their home match [against FC St. Gallen] this weekend," Schällibaum, a former assistant coach at Basel, said. "We need the points if we are to have a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup." Young Boys are in fifth place in the league, seven points off the third spot that would earn them European football next season.
Solitary injury worry
Gross has far fewer injury worries to contend with, with only the influential defender Massimo Ceccaroni a doubt because of ligament damage, although he is likely to feature at some stage.
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