Although a draw will put FC Basel 1893 in the round of 32 at Fulham FC's expense, coach Thorsten Fink maintained "attack is the best form of defence" as he prepared for a Group E showdown.
The formbook suggests that Basel should have a reasonably comfortable time in their final UEFA Europa League group stage game. They have won all five of their European home games this season comfortably, while their guests have yet to win on their travels in the group stage. Fink, meanwhile, is not about to rein in his side's attacking instincts at St. Jakob-Park. "We want to play our game which is keeping possession and creating chances," said the former FC Bayern München midfielder. "We have been in excellent form at home and will not play for a draw. I still believe attack is the best form of defence."
Wednesday's encounter will be Basel's last game of 2009, but the 42-year-old insisted his side are sharp and ready to compete with no thoughts of holidays on their minds. "If somebody had told us at the start of the group stage we would still have everything to play for in our final match, we would have taken it," said Fink. "It is our last match before the winter break and I promise you we are taking Fulham very seriously. We want to qualify for the next round."
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is equally keen to leave an impression on his return to Switzerland, where he previously coached Neuchâtel Xamax FC and Grasshopper-Club as well as the national side. Striker Andy Johnson will miss the match with a groin injury, but the 62-year-old remained upbeat. "We have a good squad to choose from and I am very pleased with our performances in Europe so far," he said. "It is an exciting end to the group stage with two teams fighting for a place in the next round. I am looking forward to the game and I know my players will give it their best."
Midfielder Danny Murphy, who won this competition with Liverpool FC in its previous incarnation, echoed his coach's opinion. "I have great memories of winning the UEFA Cup," said the 32-year-old. "Our journey in Europe this season has been great for Fulham as a club and the players because they have not had this experience before. Hopefully it will continue after tomorrow."
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