Granit Xhaka’s reputation as a footballer was built at FC Basel, and a great European night against Manchester United was a step forward for the player and several teammates.
It was September 27th, 2011, Xhaka’s 19th birthday. Danny Welbeck scored twice for Manchester United to give them a comfortable first half lead, but then Fabian and Alexander Frei scored three between them to see Basel heading for a shock win.
Ashley Young ruined the Swiss fairytale with a late equaliser, but reputations were being built.
Goalkeeper Yann Sommer was 22 years of age, a Swiss U21, he’s now an experienced Swiss international and plays for Borussia Monchengladbach. Aleksandar Dragović, now on loan at Leicester City, was 20 years of age and had only recently joined the club.
There was impressive young talent for Basel, mixed well with more experienced players.
Whilst the current Basel team may not be quite at the same level, playing at Old Trafford on Tuesday is a chance for players to make a name for themselves.
Swiss newspaper Blick have naturally spoke to Xhaka, and asked him about what they dub ‘probably one of the best games by a Swiss club on a European stage’.
The Arsenal midfielder explained: “It was one of the most crazy games. No one expected us to return to Manchester after a 2-2 defeat. In the first half we had a lot of respect, in the second nothing to lose. Suddenly we were leading 3-2… Then we were a little disappointed, even when though were glad to get a draw.
“These experiences, these emotions will always remain in my memory.”
Asked whether the current Basel team has a chance against Manchester United, Xhaka said: “FC Basel can certainly achieve something. Manchester are favourites, but in two games everything is possible. I keep my fingers crossed that they can do something like that again.”