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UEFA Champions League Preview: Basel v Schalke

Basel and Schalke will each be aiming to add to their winning starts in the UEFA Champions League when they meet on Tuesday.

St Jakob-Park in Switzerland will play host to the fixture and the hosts go into the contest in good form, having not lost any of their last 10 matches in all competitions, while they sprung a surprise in their Group E opener.

Murat Yakin’s side travelled to Chelsea with many expecting a comfortable home win, but goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller in the final 20 minutes saw the Swiss side leave with three points.

Schalke also won on matchday one, beating Steaua Bucharest 3-0 at home, but defender Benedikt Howedes believes they will have to improve considerably on their weekend 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim if they are to seal a positive result on Tuesday.

He said: “A point gets us nowhere. It annoys me terribly that we performed like that after such a good first half, and then played so weak in the second half.

“At some points we were too unfocused, so we invited the opponents’ chances. It’s incredibly annoying, but we cannot change it now.

“We have seen that we are always good for early on. If we eradicate defensive errors and defend more concentrated and compact in the crucial situations then we will have good prospects for the game in Basel.”

The Gelsenkirchen-based club have not impressed defensively in the Bundesliga so far this season, conceding 16 goals in their opening seven matches. Four of those came in a 4-0 home loss to Bayern Munich on September 21, their worst defeat at their own stadium in 32 years.

Jens Keller can take solace in the fact Schalke have only lost one of their last 11 away matches in Europe, with the Germans winning two and draw another pair last season.

Basel had won six matches in a row before Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sion, while that clash also yielded a potentially costly defensive injury as Fabian Schar was carried off with a knee injury.

The problem is not as serious as first thought, but the Switzerland international is a doubt for Tuesday.

They do have some good news on the injury front, however. Matias Delgado, Taulant Xhaka both returned to action against Sion, while Geoffrey Serey Die and Arlind Ajeti could make comebacks.

Keller has significantly more to contend with. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Christian Fuchs (all knee) are definitely out, with Ralf Fahrmann (foot) and Julian Draxler (knee) doubtful.

According to reports in Germany, midfielder Jermaine Jones has been suspended by the club after a run of substandard performances, while the USA midfielder will definitely not feature regardless, as he is set for knee surgery.

Sun 29 September, 2013
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