Young Boys v FC Zurich
It is fitting that the title defence of der Stadtclub begins at the home of the previous champions on Saturday evening. After four seasons of being the untouchable kings of Swiss football, YB suffered a pretty stark fall from grace as they ended the 21/22 season down in third, securing European football only in the final weeks of the season and finishing some sixteen points adrift of FCZ.
YB acted quickly to rectify the issues that had contributed to their disappointing finish. New manager Raphael Wicky, former coach of FC Basel, was appointed just eleven days after the final ball was kicked last season. They also moved efficiently in the transfer market, bringing in the exciting Filip Ugrinic from Luzern, Donat Rrudhani from Aarau and Cedric Itten, scorer of 19 goals in the 19/20 season for St. Gallen, from Scottish club Rangers.
There has also been a period of transition for the champions. FCZ lost their manager, top scorer and also their most influential player in the transfer window. Former Austria coach Franco Foda is the new man at the helm, but there has been little movement of note in terms of proven replacements.
This game has a much different outlook than last season. YB have recruited well and can take advantage of an FCZ side that looks set to be a one-season wonder after those key departures. The Zurich club also have a dismal record at this venue having recorded only one win in their last twelve, losing the other eleven matches.
Winterthur v FC Basel
A match with many subplots. FC Winterthur are back in the Super League after 36 years and they will mark their return with a home match against an FC Basel side that poached the man to lead Winti back to this level, Alex Frei, and also five-goal winger Sayfallah Ltaief. Oh, and the last time these two met? Winterthur won 6-2 at St. Jakob-Park in the SwIss Cup in early 2021!
Bruno Berner, who led SC Kriens to the Challenge League in 2018, is the replacement for Alex Frei at the Schutzenwiese. He has managed to keep much of the title-winning squad together, although there have been the notable departures of goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel and midfielder Roberto Alves. Florian Kamberi adds to the firepower alongside Roman Buess in the Winti frontline.
FCB’s second-place finish in 21/22 wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough either. Club president David Degen is determined to return Basel back to the top of Swiss football and the club has strengthened again this summer. There is a mix of experience and youth among the several new signings, including goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, Jean Kevin-Augustin and Zeki Amdouni.
This game has all the potential of being a cracker in a venue that is one of the most intimate and atmospheric in Switzerland. Winti can hurt an FCB side that will take time to integrate their new players, but FCB also have the quality to score goals. I think we’ll see plenty of action here.
Servette v St Gallen
When the most notable aspect of your club’s pre-season is a public apology for failing to sell beer at a friendly against Premier League side West Ham… well, it is safe to say that not much else of note has happened for Servette. They have made only one significant signing, Patrick Pflucke from Roda, and also lost the experience of Vincent Sasso and Anthony Sauthier to Boavista and Yverdon-Sport respectively. There is a real concern from the fans that the team has become stagnant after fourth and third place finishes prior to their final position of sixth last season.
Much was said about St. Gallen in 21/22, they were in unacceptably poor form for the first half of 21/22 and didn’t look like a team capable of finishing in the top-half or of reaching a Swiss Cup final. In the end, they did both. There were no kneejerk reactions at kybunpark, Peter Zeidler kept his job and recruited wisely in January to turn his side into one of the most exciting in the league.
FCSG are in a much better place in the summer of 2022 than they were last year. They have added quality to the squad that performed so well in the second half of last season and they can pick up where they left off at the beginning of this one. SFC have won only one of their last twelve at home against FCSG too.
Lugano v Sion
If FCZ were in full party mode after their title win a couple of weeks ago, you wouldn’t know it. It was business as usual for der Stadtclub on Saturday evening as they refused to take the foot off the gas and posted an impressive 2-1 victory away to St. Gallen, the first loss at home for FCSG since early December.
At the other end of the spectrum, Lausanne were finally confirmed as relegated in their goalless draw at home with FC Basel. After their return season had gone so well, not many would have predicted LS to have struggled as badly as they did this time around. In truth, their hopes of staying in the league had all but evaporated by mid-February.
It is no surprise to say that there is a vast difference between these two teams. Lausanne will end this season with their lowest points tally since 2002 and can only try to prevent Zurich from taking another three points that will edge the new champions closer to matching their points record (79) that they set in their last title-winning season in 2009.
Despite their respective seasons being over with the confirmation of the title and of relegation, FCZ showed they are not going to let up. They’ve already beaten LS on three occasions in 2021/22 and I expect them to complete the perfect record at the Letzigrund.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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