Tuesday 18 September 2018

Opposition in profile: BSC Young Boys

United get their 22nd Champions League campaign under way on Wednesday as we face the unknown quantity of Swiss champions BSC Young Boys of Bern.

It's a first ever competitive meeting between the sides, but just who are the group stage debutants from the Swiss capital? Here's everything you need to know to bring you up to speed in our handy guide.

Formed 120 years ago in March 1898, Young Boys were crowned Swiss champions for the 12th time last season but for the first time since 1986, finishing 15 points ahead of second-placed FC Basel to win the Swiss Super League, breaking Basel's eight-year stranglehold on the title. The club followed up their domestic title success by making some European history of their own, qualifying for the Champions League group stage for the first time after beating Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 on aggregate in the play-offs. However, with tough tests against Juventus and Valencia to come, they will be up against it to progress to the knockout stage of the competition. It's fair to say that they come into their first ever group stage campaign as rank outsiders in one of the tournament's tougher-looking sections.
 The midweek clash will represent our very first competitive meeting with Young Boys. The two clubs were actually drawn against each other in 1958/59 but, when officials ruled against United's invited participation in the European Cup and gave Young Boys a bye to the next round, the sides played home and away friendlies. The Reds won 3-0 at Old Trafford on 1 October 1958, after losing 2-0 in Switzerland on 24 September.

 Gerardo Seoane guided FC Luzern to third place in the Swiss Super League, which was made more impressive by the fact the team were threatened by relegation when he took over the reins in January this year. Just five months later, the 39-year-old became Young Boys boss, succeeding Adi Hutter, who replaced Niko Kovac at German club Frankfurt following his departure to Bayern Munich. Seoane, who also spent the majority of his playing career as a midfielder in Switzerland, has hit the ground running in Bern and will be hoping his Young Boys can cause an upset or two during their maiden experience of the Champions League group stage.

There's a certain poetry about a team named Young Boys plying their trade at a stadium called The Wankdorf - or, to give it its full name, the Stade de Suisse de Wankdorf. The second largest venue in the country, it has served as the club's home since 2005 and has a capacity of just over 32,000, also serving as a Euro 2008 venue and the Switzerland national side.

Like most Swiss teams who begin to capture the attention of the continent, Young Boys have a habit of losing their best players to the Bundesliga. The most recent example is defender Kasim Adams, who was snapped up by Hoffenheim in the transfer window.
That said, their weapons remain formidable enough to give Mourinho plenty to ponder. Arguably their biggest goal threat is the man who broke the deadlock in that Everton game three years ago game: Guillaume Hoarau.
The 34-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain striker scored 15 times in 20 starts last season in tandem with Cameroonian international Jean - Pierre Nsame.
Rght-back Kevin Mbabu is also one to watch. The former Newcastle United man is improving rapidly in Bern and made his Switzerland debut in the 6-0 Nations League thrashing of Iceland last week, deputising for Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Ex-Ajax and Benfica midfielder Miralem Sulejmani will be a real danger down the left, too. With two goals and five assists in eight appearances this term, Young Boys will hope the Serbia international is fully fit for United's visit.

Against English teams, they have won only one of their last six encounters, which was a 3-2 home win over Tottenham in the first leg of a qualifier for the 2010-11 tournament.
Their last meeting with a Premier League team was in February 2015, when they lost 4-1 to Everton in the last 32 of the Europa League. Romelu Lukaku, the man likely to lead the line for United on Wednesday, scored a hat-trick for the visitors that day.

Colours: Yellow/black
Honours: Swiss Super League titles 12 (most recent 2018, Swiss cup winners 6 (most recent 1987), Swiss League Cup 1976, Coppa dele Alpi (now defunct) 1974.
Last time: FC Schaffhausen 2-3 Young Boys (Swiss Cup second round).

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