Schalke need to beat the Swiss champions to join Chelsea FC in qualifying from Group E, while a draw or defeat would mean they drop into the Europa League.
Ambition to progress
In a frank interview with Germany's Kicker magazine, Draxler spoke about the ramifications of getting the wrong result at the Veltins Arena, and his conviction that Schalke will reach the knockout stages. "Finishing third in the group would not be an embarrassment," said the 20-year-old. "I think the word 'embarrassment' would be too harsh but, of course, this club and this team have the ambition to go through."
"I'm convinced we will do it," he added. That is a view shared by goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, who has taken the place of Timo Hildebrand in the Schalke goal in recent matches and looks set to earn the nod from coach Jens Keller on Wednesday night. "We're motivated all the way through to our hair ends," he said. "We will show everybody that we want to win this game."
Motivation sky high
"We know what we can do and if every single one of us plays the way he can, then we'll win," added Fährmann. Schalke are used to the pressure of an all-or-nothing encounter, having successfully mastered a game with similar stakes on the final day of last season. A victory at SC Freiburg in May earned them the right to compete in the Champions League this season, and that is not something they want to give up lightly.
"Everybody's really motivated," Fährmann said. "We can hardly wait for it to get started. Whenever we've been under pressure, we've always played well and we've reminded ourselves of that." Schalke will need little reminder of how strong their Swiss opponents are, however. Last season, Basel reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, only to be eliminated by eventual winners Chelsea FC.
"Most important game"
The side who eliminated Manchester United FC from the competition two years ago have already gained revenge, having beaten the Blues both home and away in Group E, while they put up a brave fight against die Knappen on home soil too. "We know all about their strengths," said Schalke's goalkeeper. "They've beaten Chelsea twice. We certainly won't underestimate them, but our own quality encourages us."
If any further encouragement were needed, it arrived from Schalke's Ghanaian star Kevin-Prince Boateng. "We know that this is a very, very important game," said the attacking midfielder. "It's probably our most important game of the season. We know what we're up against, and we know what we've got to do." Quite simply, Schalke have to win.
Schalke: Fährmann - Uchida, Höwedes, Felipe Santana, Kolasinac - Matip, Neustädter - Farfan, Boateng, Draxler - Szalai
Basel: Sommer - Voser, Schär, Ivanov, Xhaka - Serey Dié - Salah, Elneny, Frei, Stocker - Streller