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Basel boosted

Swiss opponents on track in title race

FC Basel will go into Tuesday’s crunch Champions League last sixteen return away to Bayern on the back of a morale-boosting win. On Matchday 24 in the Axpo Super League, the Swiss champions cruised to a routine 2-0 victory away to Grashoppers Zurich and remain well on track to retain the league title: Basel have 49 points, fully 12 clear of second-placed Lucerne.

In an echo of Bayern’s furious start at home to Hoffenheim, a match Munich would go on to win 7-1, the Swiss FCB also raced off the blocks at the venerable Letzigrund stadium. The 7,000 crowd saw future Bayern midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri hand the away team a fifth-minute lead, with former Dortmund starlet Philipp Degen doubling the advantage on 40 minutes. Basel comfortably protected their lead through to the end and have now not lost in their domestic league since 20 August 2011.

Three days ahead of the all-or-nothing meeting with Germany’s biggest club, Basel boss Heiko Vogel declined to rest key players in Zurich and sent out the strongest team currently available to him. His players responded with a dominant performance throughout, as the Swiss side ensured their confidence will be soaring when they make the relatively short trip across the border in a couple of days’ time.

FC Basel line-up on Saturday:
Sommer - Degen, Abraham, Dragovic, Steinhöfer - Shaqiri (Stocker 67), Huggel, Granit Xhaka (Yapi 74), Zoua - Streller (Pak 90), Alex Frei