Chelsea face Basel in the first leg of our Europa League semi-final on Thursday in Switzerland, and a couple of Blues supporters based in the city have been offering advice for those fans making the trip, as well as providing some background information about our opponents.
Having only played against Swiss opposition once previously, there’s a fair chance many of our fans will be heading to the country for the first time and, according to Johnny Rogerson, a Chelsea supporter who has lived in the city for a number of years, they won’t be disappointed.
‘Basel is one of the largest cities in Switzerland and there are so many activities for our supporters to enjoy when they visit,’ he said.
‘I would recommend the Olympic Museum in Lausanne VD, which has a very nice section on the history of FIFA .
‘Basel is quite close to Lake Constance [pictured below] and, even though it’s April, the sun is shining in Switzerland at this time, so a boat trip on the lake would be very enjoyable.
‘Basel Zoo is the biggest in Switzerland and has some extraordinary animals. It would be a fun day out, particularly for some of the younger fans.’
The Swiss are renowned for producing quality chocolate, and Rogerson suggested trips to either the Cailler or Lindt factories, as well as offering recommendations for if the temperatures soar.
‘If it turns out to be extremely hot during the fans’ stay, they have to go to the city beach, Messe, in the middle of Basel, which has sand, sunbeds and volleyball courts,’ he explained.
He went on to offer assistance to those supporters likely to be dining in the city.
‘To get a real taste of the local culture, I would suggest going to a restaurant and ordering a fondue,’ he said. ‘Also, steak is very nice as the cows in Switzerland live high in the alps, which makes them very tasty.
‘Switzerland is also famous for its wine, so if people decide to visit a vineyard, they should definitely have a few glasses.’
Peter Stauber, meanwhile, who hopes to attend the game, had the following ideas for supporters looking to visit the local tourist attractions.
‘I would advise our fans to take a trip to either the Museum of Art [pictured below] or Barfusslerplatz,’ he said.
‘Although the latter is where FC Basel celebrate winning trophies, so let’s hope they won’t be celebrating winning the Europa League there in the near future.’
With regards to eating and drinking in the city, Stauber was full of suggestions, and believes our supporters will have a great time.
‘Aqua, Vapiano and Latini are all nice restaurants which are reasonably priced,’ he said. ‘For those with slightly more expensive tastes I’d suggest a place called Walliserchanne, while Fischerstube, which translates as ‘beerfondue’ is also worth a visit.’
The match will be the first time the two sides have met in any competition, and Rogerson provided some information about the team we will need to overcome if we are to secure a place in the Europa League final.
‘Basel are the best team in Switzerland,’ he said. ‘They have dominated the league this season, and have some unbelievable players that may surprise Chelsea.
‘They play very offensive and fast football. They will play long balls forward to Marco Streller [pictured below], who is similar in terms of style of play to Didier Drogba.
‘They won’t play through the midfield very often because they don’t have any kind of midfield maestro. Instead, they will bomb down the wings and whip the ball in, which they are very good at.
‘All in all, they are a strong side, which they proved against Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals. They are the team to beat in Switzerland and are a very confident side as you’d imagine.
‘St Jakobs Park is an amazing stadium, and is very easily accessible for everyone, so supporters should have no worries on that front.’
Stauber, meanwhile, added a bit more historical background about the club.
‘In the region, Basel are the only club who play in the top flight. This is also a reason why they have so many supporters,’ he said.
‘They have the biggest stadium in Switzerland, and one of the main reasons for their success is a very good scouting system.
‘The most successful manager in the club’s history was Christian Gross, who won the Swiss Championship four times after joining from Tottenham.
‘At the moment, Basel are three points ahead of Grasshopper Zurich, and it’s always interesting when the two teams play each other because there is a big rivalry between the cities.’