Granit Xhaka says he is rooting for his former club FC Basel to beat Manchester United when the two sides lock horns in the Champions League tonight.
“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,” he told Swiss newspaper Blick.
Manchester United welcome FC Basel to Old Trafford this evening, and former midfielder Xhaka has reflected on the last time his former club visited Old Trafford. It was in September 2011, when a young Basel side came away with a point after a thrilling 3-3 draw. Playing in midfield that night was a 19-year-old Granit Xhaka.
“It was one of the most crazy games. No one expected us to return to Manchester after a 2-0 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.”
Xhaka also played when Basel beat United 2-1 and knocked them out of the Champions League group stages. That Basel team of the past had bright young talents such as Yann Sommer, Aleksandr Dragovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Xhaka himself. The current Basel team isn’t quite of the same level, as they showed last year when they played Arsenal.
Arsenal beat them 3-0 at the Emirates and then 4-1 in Switzerland. Nonetheless, Xhaka is backing his old club to do well against United tonight. I’m expecting a comfortable United victory, but if Basel can give them some trouble and even cause an upset, it’ll be great fun to watch.