Christian Gross has admitted that it has been a steep learning curve for his Basel side as they prepare to face Sporting.
In the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03, the Swiss champions have picked up just one point from their first five games and even if they win tonight, they cannot avoid finishing bottom of the section.
“We have been away from the Champions League for a long time and the game has changed,” he said. “It’s moved on very quickly and we’re still learning. If we finish with a win it would be great. We’ll try our best – we owe it to our fans.”
Beg Ferati is in line to deputise for injured centre-half David Abraham, while 19-year-old Michel Morganella stands by to replace right-back Reto Zanni and make his Champions League debut.
“If we have the opportunity to win then we’ll try and take it,” said Gross. “To do that though, we have to create chances.”
Sporting have already beaten Basel three times this year, while their place in the first knockout round is already secure, coach Paulo Bento has warned his charges not take it easy.
“We can’t rely on past results,” said Bento, who led Sporting to a 5-0 aggregate success over Basel in the UEFA Cup Round of 32 last season before masterminding a 2-0 victory on Matchday 2. “There’s a lot at stake. We want to end the group phase on a positive note.”
Liedson, is out with a twisted left knee so Derlei, a Champions League winner with Porto in 2004, steps up. Veteran keeper Tiago comes in for the suspended Rui Patrício, while Daniel Carrico should be retained at centre-back.
“I have a lot of respect for our opponents, because they caused us problems when we played them at home,” said Bento. “But we want to give a better image of ourselves than we did against Barcelona [a 5-2 home defeat on 26 November].”