February 12, 2018 / 6:39 PM / in 8 months

Basel not expecting much of the ball against Manchester City

BASEL (Reuters) - FC Basel will find the ball a precious commodity when they face Manchester City in their Champions League last 16 clash and it must not be wasted, their coach Raphael Wicky said on Monday.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Basel Press Conference - Basel, Switzerland - February 12, 2018 Basel coach Raphael Wicky during the press conference REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Wicky accepted the runaway English Premier League leaders would dominate possession in Tuesday’s first leg but still believed his team could pull off a repeat of their upset win over City’s neighbours Manchester United in December.

“We will not have 50 or 60 percent possession, no team has that against them,” he told reporters. “We must be really compact, we must try and make use of the ball when we have it and not make mistakes. If we keep losing it, it will be extremely difficult.”

Soccer Football - Champions League - Basel Training - Basel, Switzerland - February 12, 2018 Basel coach Raphael Wicky during training REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Wicky acknowledged the Swiss champions were rank outsiders and would need a “perfect evening” to spring a surprise against Pep Guardiola’s in-form side.

“The quality of the players, and the coach who is putting into practice the same kind of football as he did with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, makes them unbelievably strong,” said Wicky, whose team reached the knockout stages thanks to a shock win against United.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Basel Training - Basel, Switzerland - February 12, 2018 Basel coach Raphael Wicky and assistant coach Massimo Lombardo during training REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

“Their team has almost no weaknesses, they are extremely adaptable and react very well to whatever situation their opponents put them in,” he added.

City are 16 points ahead of second-placed local rivals United at the top of the Premier leauge, through to the League Cup final and are also in the FA Cup fifth round.

“We always try to have a plan and we have another plan tomorrow but it’s not just about football strategy and tactics,” said Wicky.

“We need a perfect game, we must show lots of courage, the fans have to be behind us... everything must come together.” “We must have a perfect evening to pull off a surprise... but we believe we can do it.”

Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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