- To read the initial delve about the neighbouring Austrian Bundesliga, it can be found HERE.
Having looked at the football teams and the Bundesliga in Austria for my previous European league blog, it made logical sense to next head in a westerly direction, over the majestic Alps, to have a look at the interesting multi-language country of Switzerland (also known as the Swiss Confederation or the Latin name of Confoederatio Helvetica) for this blog. Mostly known for its tasty chocolate, cheeses, watches, banking, medieval pikemen, and its ongoing neutrality, the federal republic of 26 cantons is also a very important centre for football both historically and currently. I wanted to know more about the country’s leagues, especially its top-flight Super League, as well as the country’s biggest teams. Also, I wanted to explore its curious relationship with its smaller neighbour, Liechtenstein, and how the small principality’s clubs are an important part of the Swiss football pyramid.
So like Steve McQueen, let’s hop on a motorbike and jump over the Swiss border to explore the fascinating world of the Swiss Super League…
The Swiss Football Pyramid
The national football system in Switzerland is organised by the Swiss Football Association, ASF-SFV (German: Schweizerischer Fussballverband, French: Association Suisse de Football, Italian: Associazione Svizzera di Football/Calcio, Romansh: Associaziun Svizra da Ballape), who are based in the Swiss capital of Berne. The Swiss pyramid has as many as nine steps within its football ladder, and the tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1: Super League
- Tier 2: Challenge League
- Tier 3: Promotion League
- Tier 4: 1. Liga
- Tier 5: 2. Liga Interregional
- Tier 6: 2. Liga
- Tier 7: 3. Liga
- Tier 8: 4. Liga
- Tier 9: 5. Liga
The top flight of the Swiss pyramid is called the ten-team Swiss Super League (which will be described further down), with the second-tier being another ten-team national league, the Swiss Challenge League. The third-tier league is also another national league but has an increased amount of sixteen teams within the league, and is called the Swiss Promotion League. As reserve sides can also compete within the Swiss football pyramid, the Promotion League is the highest league where such reserve teams can progress to within the pyramid.
The fourth-tier 1. Liga is the highest step of the pyramid where regionalisation occurs with 48 teams separated into three regional leagues – normally divided between West, Central and East. Fifth-tier 2. Liga Interregional is split between six regional leagues each with fourteen teams within them, whilst the 2. Liga and below are organised by the respective regional cantonal FAs with teams normally playing other teams from their own canton. The 2. Liga division is split into 17 groups each containing between 12 to 14 team, with 3. Liga split into 46 regional groups, 4. Liga separated into 75 regional groups and 5. Liga with 67 regional groups.
The Liechtenstein Situation
All the football clubs based in the neighbouring country of Liechtenstein play within the Swiss football system. The small country does not have its own league due to the small number of active football teams within the principality, and is thus the only UEFA member not to have its own national league. As a result, the country does not have any qualification spots for the UEFA Champions League. Historically all the clubs from Liechtenstein have played in the Swiss football pyramid with its clubs being originally affiliated to the St. Gallen Cantonal FA, although there have been Liechtenstein-only competitions which have determined the champion of the country. Since 1945, the Liechtenstein FA (the LFV, Liechtensteiner Fussballverband) has organised its own cup competition, with the winners of which are guaranteed entry into the Europa League – it is the only way for Liechtensteiner clubs to qualify for Europe as they cannot qualify via the Super League nor compete in the Swiss Cup. Resultantly, Liechtenstein only has one European qualification berth per season.
There are currently seven teams from Liechtenstein who compete within the Swiss football pyramid:
- FC Balzers
- USV Eschen/Mauren
- FC Ruggell
- FC Schaan
- FC Triesen
- FC Triesenberg
- FC Vaduz
The most successful team in the Liechtenstein Cup is FC Vaduz, who have won the national cup competition a world-record 47 times since the first final held back in 1946. They have won nearly every cup final since the 1994-95 season, losing only twice during that period. They lost 2-3 to FC Balzers (the second-most successful side in the country with 11 cup victories) in the 1997 cup final whilst they most recently lost in the 2012 cup final to USV Eschen/Mauren on penalties, after drawing 2-2. The last final which didn’t have the capital side involved was the 1994 cup final which saw FC Schaan beat Balzers 3-0 to win their third Liechtensteiner Cup.
From the seven teams, only Ruggell and Triesenberg have not won a Liechtensteiner Cup with Triesenberg’s only final appearance coming in the 2015 final (losing 0-5 to Vaduz) and Ruggell’s last final appearance (from seven final appearances) being in 2019, when they lost 2-3 to Vaduz.
- 47 cups: Vaduz
- 11 cups: Balzers
- 8 cups: Triesen
- 5 cups: Eschen/Mauren
- 3 cups: Schaan
- Stadium: Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
- Nicknames: Residenzler (English: Resident), Fürstenverein (English: Princely club), Stolz von Liechtenstein (English: Pride of Liechtenstein)
- Colours: All red kit
FC Vaduz, founded in 1932 and based in the capital of Liechtenstein, is the small country’s most successful and only professional club and play at the Rheinpark Stadion, the national stadium of Liechtenstein. They currently compete within the Swiss Super League after gaining promotion from the 2019-20 Swiss Challenge League after finishing as runners-up to Lausanne-Sport and beating FC Thun in the two-legged promotion/relegation playoff. They are still the only Liechtensteiner team to have competed within the Super League having first reached the top-flight for the first time in 2008.
Although the majority of their history has seen them compete within the third-tier of the Swiss league system, it is most recently (since the turn of the new millennium) when they started to compete within the second-tier before eventually reaching the Super League and becoming a yo-yo club between the top two tiers. Despite this, they are Liechtenstein’s regular representatives in the UEFA Europa League through their multiple and consecutive cup victories. They are yet to qualify for the group stages of the competition but have reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League on four occasions, most recently in the 2019-20 campaign.
They are considered a “guest club” by the Swiss Football League, and as such, have to pay an ‘appearance fee’ every year in order to continue competing in the Swiss professional leagues. Also they are not eligible to win the Super League but can still compete within it.
The Super League
Switzerland has an incredible history within the world of football as it was one of the very first places outside of the British Isles where football was first played, with the sport having been introduced by English merchants and students into the country. The first football club outside of the UK, the Lausanne Football and Cricket Club was founded in 1860 by English students, whilst the country’s oldest club still in existence is Saint Gallen, who were founded in 1879 (more about them further down). With Switzerland being one of the first countries within Europe to embrace football, it would the Swiss who would be the unheralded early pioneers of promoting the game within the remainder of the continent, with many historical clubs in Europe having Swiss roots and forebears, such as FC Barcelona and Inter Milan. The Swiss FA (ASF-SFV) were founded in 1895 and became founding members of FIFA in 1904, and the country has continually been at the centre of power within football with the Swiss cities of Zürich and Nyon being the homes of FIFA and UEFA respectively.
Two years after the ASF-SFV’s creation, the first Swiss championship was established with the Swiss Serie A first taking place in the 1897-98 season (this is regarded as an unofficial season) with Grasshopper Club Zürich winning the initial title, although it would be the Anglo-American Club of Zürich who would claim the first ‘official’ title in the 1898-99 season. The Swiss Serie A league would continue to be organised until 1931 when it then became the National League until 1944. Another name change was made in the 1944-45 season when it became the National League A, and the top-flight in Switzerland would use this name for the majority of its history until a change was made once again in 2003. The current format of a ten-team Super League was first established for the 2003-04 season, with the 2020-21 Raiffeisen Super League (the sponsored name of the league) being the 18th season under its current name and format.
Like the majority of leagues within Europe, the Super League season is organised to run from late summer to late spring. The league normally starts in late July or early August and concludes its season in late May although it schedules a long winter break in the middle of the season which runs throughout the festive and New Year period, as well as the whole of January to avoid the worst of the winter weather. Very much like a number of European leagues, which have ten teams within it, each team will every other opponent four times throughout the season (twice at home and twice away) resulting in a 36-game league campaign. There is no league split within Swiss football unlike its Alpine counterpart in Austria.
At the end of the 36-game season, the team with the most points are naturally crowned the Swiss champions and qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the following season. Whilst the runners-up and the third-placed side also qualify for European competition, albeit in the Europa League (later to be the new Europa Conference League) along with the Swiss Cup winners. Should the national cup be won by a side who have already qualified for Europe, then the fourth-placed side in the league shall also qualify for European competition. There are no end-of-season European playoffs currently.
The team who finishes bottom of the ten-team league at the end of the season is automatically relegated to the Challenge League, and replaced with the second-tier league’s champion. The team who finishes ninth in the Super League have to play a two-legged playoff against the runners-up of the Challenge League, with the winner of the relegation/promotion playoff games (on aggregate) taking the final berth in the Super League for the following season.
Current European Co-Efficient
For the 2020-21 season, Switzerland was situated in 17th position in the UEFA Coefficient Rankings, 0.125 coefficient points behind Denmark in 16th position, and 1.975 points ahead of Cyprus in 18th position. As a result of the country’s position, it means they are entitled to one qualifier to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and three for the UEFA Europa League (UEL).
The 2019-20’s Super League champions, BSC Young Boys, entered the UCL in the second qualifying round, in the Champions Path section of the qualification. For the Europa League, fourth-placed side, Servette, came into the competition in the first qualifying round of the competition, with third-placed side, FC Basel, entering at the second qualifying round. Last season’s runners-up team, St. Gallen, came into the UEL at the third qualifying round. None of the Swiss teams automatically qualify for any of the group stages for this season. Liechtenstein’s representative, FC Vaduz, who qualified as the highest-ranked team due to the cup being cancelled for COVID reasons, entered the UEL at the first qualifying round.
|League Position in Super League||Season 2020-21||Season 2021-22|
|Super League Winners||UCL 2nd Qualifying Round||UCL 2nd Qualifying Round|
|Swiss Cup Winners||UEL 3rd Qualifying Round||UECL 2nd Qualifying Round|
|Liechtensteiner Cup Winners||UEL 1st Qualifying Round||UECL 1st Qualifying Round|
|Runners-Up / If Cup Winner is UCL Qualifier||UEL 2nd Qualifying Round / UEL 3rd Qualifying Round||UECL 2nd Qualifying Round|
|Third Place / If Cup Winner is UCL Qualifier||UEL 1st Qualifying Round / UEL 2nd Qualifying Round||UECL 2nd Qualifying Round|
|Fourth Place (If Cup Winner is UCL Qualifier)||UEL 1st Qualifying Round||UECL 2nd Qualifying Round|
For the 2021-22 season, Switzerland will maintain its 17th position in the UEFA Coefficient Rankings albeit in between the countries of Cyprus (who climbs to 16th in the rankings) and Greece. Therefore they will continue to have a single qualification spot in the UCL with the 2020-21 Super League winners taking a second qualifying round spot once again.
Due to Switzerland being outside of the top 15 leagues in the European coefficient rankings, they will not have any of their three other European qualifiers for the UEL. Instead, all of their qualifiers will take part in the new UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL), the third UEFA organised tournament which will start for the 2021-22 season. The teams who finish as runners-up and third-placed teams in the 2020-21 Super League, as well as the Swiss Cup winners, will all enter into the new competition in the second qualifying round, whereas the Liechtenstein Cup winners will start in the first qualifying round of the UECL.
A list of Swiss league champions since the first Swiss championship in 1897-98:
- 27 Titles: Grasshopper
- 20 Titles: Basel
- 17 Titles: Servette
- 14 Titles: Young Boys
- 12 Titles: Zürich
- 7 Titles: Lausanne-Sport
- 3 Titles: Winterthur, Lugano, La Chaux-de-Fonds & Aarau
- 2 Titles: Neuchâtel Xamax, Sion & St. Gallen
- 1 Title: Anglo-American Club Zürich, Brühl, Cantonal Neuchâtel, Étoile-Sporting, Biel-Bienne, Bellinzona & Luzern
The most successful Swiss team in the league’s history is Grasshopper Club Zürich, who have won 27 titles in their extensive history including the very first Swiss championship in 1897-98, even though it is regarded as an unofficial championship. They won their most recent championship in the 2002-03 season, the last season before the switch to the Super League, but have not won the league during the Super League era. GCZ are currently not in the top-flight after having been relegated at the end of the 2018-19 season and will be competing in the Challenge League for the 2020-21 season after missing out on promotion last season.
Basel are the most successful team currently playing in the top-flight having won the Swiss championship twenty times. They have won twelve titles since the turn of the millennium and have been the most dominant team within the 21st century, including winning eight titles consecutively between 2010 and 2017. Servette are the third-most successful team in terms of titles, although the vast majority of their 17 championships were won before 1962, with only four being won beyond that point, and their most recent championship coming in 1999. The current league champions, BSC Young Boys, have won 14 championships including the last three consecutive titles. Their championship in the 2017-18 season was their first title since 1985-86 and only the second time in Berne since the 1959-60 season. Finally FC Zürich are the final team who have got their title count into double-figures with 12 championships won. Like the Young Boys side, they too have won three Super League titles by winning three out of four years between 2006 and 2009.
The most recent new champion has been FC Sion who won the first of their two championships in 1992, whilst FC Luzern are the most recent side with just the single league championship to their name, having won their sole title in the 1988-89 campaign. Of the teams in the 2020-21 Super League, FC Lugano are waiting the longest to add to their tally of three titles having last won the championship in the 1948-49 season. Only FC Vaduz are the only team in the top-flight this season who have yet to win the Super League in their history, although they are not eligible to win the title, of course, with them being a Liechtensteiner club.
Selected Super League Clubs
- Stadium: St. Jakob-Park, Basel
- Nicknames: FCB, Bebbi, RotBlau
- Colours: Red and blue halved shirts, red shorts, red socks
Fussball Club Basel 1893 are based in the northern city of Basel/Basle, which is the third-biggest city in Switzerland and situated on the lower river Rhine. FC Basel are one of the most successful Swiss clubs domestically, having won the league 20 times and the Swiss Cup on 13 occasions. In addition, they are the most successful Swiss club in the UEFA Champions League having qualified for the group stage on seven occasions – more than any other Swiss club. The RotBlau have reached the knockout stages of the UCL on three occasions, and finished last season as quarter-finalists in the UEFA Europa League. The club is also renowned for its successful youth team, with such players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Ivan Rakitić and Mohamed Salah coming through the playing ranks at St. Jakob-Park.
They are one of the best supported teams in the Swiss leagues, with average attendances of around 30,000 for league games. In keeping with the historical rivalry between the cities of Basel and Zürich, FC Basel has historical rivalries with both FC Zürich and Grasshopper Club Zürich, albeit in recent years, the rivalry with Zürich has seen to have been more heated with hatred and bitterness between the two sets of fans.
Their current manager is the former 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Inter Milan, Bayern München and Swiss international midfielder, Ciriaco Sforza, who took over the club in August 2020 having been manager of Challenge League side FC Wil last season. He replaced former manager Marcel Koller who left the club after Basel finished in third position in the 2019-20 Super League season.
- Stadium: Stade de Genève, Geneva
- Nickname: Les Grenats (English: The Maroons)
- Colours: Maroon shirts with white trim, navy blue shorts, maroon socks
Servette Football Club were founded in 1890 are based in the financial centre of Geneva, the second-biggest city in Switzerland. Having won 17 national titles and 7 Swiss Cups, they are the most successful clubs in Swiss football and are considered to be the biggest club in the Romandy region (the Francophone area) of the country. Les Granats play at the 30,084 capacity Stade de Genève, one of the stadiums used in Euro 2008, and last season finished in fourth position in the Super League.
Having been one of the ever-present teams in the top-flight for the majority of their history, they enjoy a healthy competitive rivalry with Grasshopper, however their main and historical rivals are Lausanne-Sport, who they play in the Léman Derby. Originally Servette had been the only side to compete in every season in the Swiss top-flight, but financial problems after the millennium resulted in bankruptcy in early 2005. Since then, they have floated between the top two leagues (albeit a brief sojourn to the third-tier in 2015-16 due to financial problems but they soon gained promotion back to the second-tier) and are into their second season of their current stint in the Super League after gaining promotion at the end of the 2018-19 season from the Challenge League.
Their current manager is Alain Geiger, who is the second-most capped player for Switzerland with 112 caps, and was the national captain in both the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1996.
- Stadium: Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne
- Nicknames: LS, Les bleu et blanc (English: The Blue and White)
- Colours: All white kit with blue trim
FC Lausanne-Sport are based in the western city of Lausanne, the capital of the canton of Vaud and the fourth-biggest city in Switzerland. Although Lausanne was home to Europe’s oldest club, Lausanne Football & Cricket Club, this current club was founded in 1896 as Montriond Lausanne before switching to its current name in 1920. The club has won seven league titles and the Swiss Cup nine times, with their most recent honour being the 1998-99 Swiss Cup triumph. Because of their position within Romandy, they enjoy a historical rivalry with Servette of nearby Geneva, whom they play in the Léman Derby.
In a similar trajectory to their Romandy rivals, LS spent nearly the whole of their history in the Swiss top-flight, missing just one season away between 1906 and 2002. However financial problems resulted in the club failing to get a top-flight licence, and suffered a subsequent bankruptcy which forced the club to reform in the fourth-tier of Swiss football. Eventually the club fought its way back and returned to the Super League for the 2011-12 season. They too have floated between the top two tiers over the past decade, and recently gained promotion back to the Super League having won the 2019-20 Challenge League.
The club is owned by Ineos, a Swiss-based British petrochemicals company owned by wealthy British businessman, Jim Ratcliffe. They enjoy a close working relationship with French Ligue 1 side OGC Nice, who are another football club owned by Ineos, with Lausanne-Sport loaning five players from the Mediterranean coast club this season.
FC St. Gallen 1879
- Stadium: Kybunpark, St. Gallen
- Nickname: Espen
- Colours: Green shirt with white sleeves, white shorts, green socks
Fussballclub St. Gallen 1879 are based in the university and cathedral city of St. Gallen, situated in the northeast of the country near Lake Constance. They are considered to be the oldest football club in existence in Swiss football having been founded in April 1879, and are thus a member of the exclusive Club of Pioneers, a global network for the oldest continuing clubs from each country. Despite their lengthy history in Swiss football, they have had relatively little success in comparison with other Super League clubs having only won the league twice, and Swiss Cup once. They won their first league title in the 1903-04 season but had to wait another 96 years before winning their second title in the 1999-2000 season.
In the 21st century they became a bit of a ‘yo-yo club‘ having won the Challenge League in both the 2008-09 and 2011-12 season, however since their last promotion in 2012, they have continued to compete within the Super League. Within the past couple of years, the fortunes of the club have improved dramatically under German manager Peter Zeidler and last season finished runners-up in the league – their best league finish since winning the league in 2000.
St. Gallen enjoy a close working relationship with local side FC Wil, and play them in the St. Gallener Derby, whilst they play their city-rivals SC Brühl St. Gallen (currently in the third-tier Promotion League) in the uniquely named “Roast Sausage Derby“.
BSC Young Boys
- Stadium: Wankdorf Stadium, Bern
- Nickname: Yellow & Blacks
- Colours: Yellow shirt with black sleeves, black shorts, black and yellow hooped socks
Berner Sport Club Young Boys are based in the Swiss capital of Bern, the fifth-biggest city in the country, and play at the 32,000 capacity Stadion Wankdorf / Stade de Suisse. Young Boys have won the Swiss title on fourteen occasions and the Swiss Cup seven times, and are the current defending Super League champions and Swiss Cup holders. They have won the past three consecutive league titles having ended the Basel dominance of the league. They enjoy a healthy rivalry with local side FC Thun, with the sides playing in the Berner Derby with both sides being from the Bern canton.
Founded in 1898, it’s unique name was intended to mimic that of the Basel-based club, BSC Old Boys, taking the same yellow and black colours into their own colours. They enjoyed their first ‘golden period’ under the management of Albert Sing during the 1950s and early 1960s, when they won four league titles, two Swiss Cups and reached the semi-finals of the 1958-59 European Cup. After Sing’s management, they would become a middling club within the league, winning only a single title in the 1985-86 season, but would end the 20th century struggling with financial issues that saw the club relegated to the second-tier. They returned in 2001 and have continued to compete in the top-flight since then, with the club winning its twelve title in 2017-18 – a wait of 32 years for the capital club.
Their first title was won under the highly-respected Austrian manager Adi Hütter, who soon left to become Eintracht Frankfurt’s manager in 2018. He was replaced by current manager, the former Luzern manager, Gerardo Seoane, who has continued Hütter’s work by claiming a further two Super League titles.
- Stadium: Letzigrund, Zürich
- Nickname: FCZ
- Colours: All white kit
Fussballclub Zürich were founded in 1896 and are based in one of the world’s financial centres, and Switzerland’s largest city of Zürich, located in the north-centre of the country. During their history, FCZ have won twelve Swiss championships and ten Swiss Cups and been one of the more successful teams domestically in the 21st century having picked up three league titles and five cup wins. Their most recent trophy was the 2018 Swiss Cup when they beat BSC Young Boys in the final. The club has developed a heated rivalry with FC Basel, whilst maintaining their historical and fiery cross-city rivalry with Grasshopper Club Zürich, who they play against in the Züricher Derby and share the 26,000 capacity Letzigrund with.
Despite being one of the earliest winners of the Swiss championship in the 1901-02 season, they would only win an additional one league title during the next 60 years, of which are regarded as the ‘wilderness years’ for the club. However between 1960 and 1981, the club won the vast majority of its honours by claiming seven titles, five Swiss Cups and reaching the European Cup semi-finals on two occasions, losing to Real Madrid in 1964 and Liverpool in 1977. FCZ would suffer a period of decline and would have to wait a further 25 years before reclaiming the title when they won the 2006-07 Super League. They surprisingly suffered relegation in 2016 under the management of Liverpool legend Sami Hyypiä whilst also winning the Swiss Cup in the same season, but returned as Challenge League winners the following season (whilst also playing Europa League group games as a second-tier club). Last season, the club finished in seventh position for the second season running, just six points adrift of the European places.
The 2019-20 Season
The defending champions, Young Boys, would successfully reclaim their title for the third consecutive season as they only lost 6 of their 36 league games to finish the season with 76 points, however it would be their lowest points tally of the three Super League wins so far. The Bern side had the best attack in the league, having scored 80 goals from their league campaign with 32 of them coming from the league’s top goalscorer, the Cameroonian striker Jean-Pierre Nsame.
Eight points behind the champions in the runners-up spot was surprisingly St. Gallen, who had vastly improved upon their sixth place finish in the 2018-19 season. They had scored one goal fewer than Young Boys but had three players in the top-ten league goalscorers for the season. Cedric Itten top scored for Espen with 19 goals, whilst Bosnian Ermedin Demirović contributed with 14 goals and Spaniard Jordi Quintillà added a further 13 goals. In addition, they also had the league’s top assister with Lukas Görtler creating 13 assists throughout the season. FC Basel finished six points behind St. Gallen in third, despite having the best defence in the league (conceding just 38 goals). They were helped by the goals of Brazilian Arthur with 14 goals, and German forward Kemal Ademi with 13 goals.
With the 2019-20 Swiss season being delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leading to the league being postponed between 28th February and 19th June, it meant the Swiss Cup could not be completed until late August. In final, Young Boys played against Basel in the first-ever final between the two Swiss giants, and the Bern side won the game 2-1 with midfielder Marvin Spielmann scoring the winner in the 89th minute to ensure a double-winning season for the Young Boys. It meant that finishing in fourth place would be enough to qualify for the Europa League also as the Swiss Cup-winners European berth would be transferred to the league due to YB already qualifying for the UCL. It proved to be a close affair with four teams all in the running for that final European berth, however it would be the newly promoted Servette who achieved an impressive fourth place and European competition once again. They finished two points ahead of FC Lugano in fifth, three points of sixth-place FC Luzern and six points clear of Zürich in seventh (who had the worst defence in the league with 72 goals).
At the bottom of the table, Neuchâtel Xamax finished a clear tenth place and suffered relegation to the Challenge League. Having only won 5 games all season, the worst attack in the league (with just 33 goals – 13 of them coming from attacking midfielder Raphaël Nuzzolo alone) and having the second-worst defence in the league (conceding 68 goals), it saw them finish twelve points from safety as they returned back to the second-tier. They would be replaced by the Challenge League champions, Lausanne-Sport. It would be a tooth and nail battle to avoid ninth position, and the dreaded promotion/relegation playoff with FC Sion and FC Thun hoping to avoid the additional matches. Despite Sion going through four managers throughout the season, they just about managed to avoid the playoff by a single point, as Thun finished in ninth position.
A very surprising end to the season for Thun who had finished in fourth position the previous season and had qualified for the Europa League. In the playoffs, they faced the Challenge League runners-up, FC Vaduz and in the first leg in Liechtenstein, Vaduz took a 2-0 advantage with goals from Tunahan Cicek and Manuel Sutter. It meant Thun had it all to do in the second leg back at the Stockhorn Arena. Thun conceded a goal to Senegalese striker Mohamed Coulibaly after 20 minutes to go 0-3 down on aggregate, but goals from Basil Stillhart and Leonardo Bertone gave them hope of a comeback. Sadly the dream was ended with twenty minutes remaining when Coulibaly scored his second of the evening before Cicek finally confirmed the result of the two-legged tie. Thun did manage to score two very late goals from Ridge Munsy and Simone Rapp to win the tie 4-3, it was sadly not enough as they lost 4-5 on aggregate to their Liechtensteiner opponents, who would replace the Bern canton side in the top-flight for the 2020-21 Super League season.
Sadly the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League (UEL) would be a major hurdle for the Super League teams as three of them all fell at the same round. FC Luzern came up against La Liga side Espanyol and lost 0-6 on aggregate, whilst Liechtenstein’s representative, FC Vaduz, lost by the same aggregate scoreline against Eintracht Frankfurt. FC Thun performed better in their respective tie against iconic Russian side, Spartak Moscow, fighting back from 0-2 down in the first leg and taking the lead in the second leg at Moscow, they still ended up on the losing side by losing 3-5 on aggregate.
For the group stage of the UEL competition, Switzerland had three teams competing, FC Lugano who automatically qualified for it having finished third in the 2018-19 Super League, whilst BSC Young Boys and FC Basel joined them after losing their respective UEFA Champions League ties to Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade and Austrian side LASK respectively in their UCL qualifying matches. Certainly a disappointing result for both sides as Basel had knocked out PSV Eindhoven in the second qualifying round of the UCL, whilst Young Boys just lost on away goals to their Serbian opponents.
Lugano finished bottom of their UEL group, behind Malmö FF, FC Copenhagen and Dynamo Kyiv, with just three points. The Ticino-based side drew home and away to third-placed Dynamo, whilst also picking up a point at home against the group winners Malmö. Young Boys were placed in a very difficult group alongside the European greats of Porto, Rangers and Feyenoord. The Swiss champions managed to stay unbeaten against Feyenoord and Rangers as they beat them both at home and managed to earn themselves a draw in the away fixture. Sadly, they just missed out on qualification for the knockout round, missing out by a point from Rangers, who finished second behind Porto. Finally Basel were placed into a group with Getafe, Krasnodar and Trabzonspor, and they would perform to expectations by qualifying to the knockout round. Four wins and a draw from their six matches was enough to top the group with 13 points, one point ahead of La Liga side Getafe in second position.
With Basel being the sole Swiss representative in the UEL and one of the seeded teams in the draw, they were drawn against Cypriot side APOEL in the last 32 of the competition. Goals from Raoul Petretta, Valentin Stocker and Arthur gave them a 3-0 away lead in the first leg before a Fabian Frei penalty in the second leg gave RotBlau a 4-0 aggregate win. They were then drawn against German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16. Once again they achieved another 4-0 aggregate victory by winning the away leg 3-0 and the home leg 1-0, although because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were five months in between the two legs. This meant they had qualified for UEFA’s unique final tournament held in Germany, which would decide the UEL winner. For their one-legged quarter-final match, they came up against Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk, played in Gelsenkirchen. Sadly they found themselves 0-2 down at half-time before conceding another two goals in the final 15 minutes to go 0-4 down. Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel managed to score an injury-time penalty to give the side a consolation goal, but they still disappointingly lost 1-4 to the Miners of Ukraine, to end Swiss participation in European competitions.
(All scores are on aggregate, except those marked with a * which were single matches)
- UEFA Champs League 2QR: PSV Eindhoven (NED) 4 – 4 (won on away goals)
- UEFA Champs League 3QR: LASK (AUT) 2 – 5
- UEFA Europa League Group C: FIRST – 13 pts
- UEFA Europa League R32: APOEL (CYP) 4 – 0
- UEFA Europa League R16: Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) 4 – 0
- UEFA Europa League QF: Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 1 – 4*
- UEFA Europa League 2QR: KÍ Klaksvík (ISL) 2 – 0
- UEFA Europa League 3QR: Espanyol (ESP) 0 – 6
- UEFA Europa League 3QR: Spartak Moscow (RUS) 3 – 5
- UEFA Europa League Group B: FOURTH – 3 pts
BSC Young Boys
- UEFA Champs League P/OR: FK Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 3 – 3 (lost on away goals)
- UEFA Europa League Group G: THIRD – 8 pts
- UEFA Europa League 2QR: Fehérvár (HUN) 2 – 1
- UEFA Europa League 3QR: Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) 0 – 6
Current Season – 2020-21 Super League
After just four league games played in the 2020-21 season, it is St. Gallen who lead the table with 10 points having won their first three games and drawing their most recent game, 2-2 with Luzern. They are two points clear of newly-promoted Lausanne-Sport and defending champion Young Boys, who are both on 8 points, with Lugano on 6 points in fourth place. All of the top four clubs are still unbeaten this season.
At the opposite end of the table, in a mirror-image to the top four is that the bottom four teams are all winless so far this season. Sion have three draws and three points, whilst Luzern and Vaduz have two points each. At the bottom of the table is Zürich who only have one point to their name so far but have played a game fewer after their grudge game with Basel was postponed the previous weekend.
The top scorer (at the time of writing 20 October 2020) in the Super League currently is Aldin Turkes from Lausanne-Sport, who has scored three league goals so far this season.
It has been a disappointing European campaign for Super League clubs this season with only BSC Young Boys making it to the group stage of the UEFA Europa League and still competing within European competitions. They are placed in a favourable group with Italian Serie A side AS Roma, Romanian side CFR Cluj and Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia. The Bern side will surely be fancying their chances of progression to the knockout stage this season, potentially finishing 2nd behind Roma. They achieved their group berth by beating Albanian champions KF Tirana 3-0 at the Stadion Wankdorf with a goal from Christian Fassnacht just before half-time, before a second-half double from main striker Jean-Pierre Nsame ensured the victory.
Last season’s quarter-finalists FC Basel, just missed out on the Europa League group stage when they were knocked out by CSKA Sofia in the playoff round by losing 1-3 at home to the Bulgarians. Arthur got the opening goal of the game from a penalty ten minutes into the second-half, only for CSKA to score three goals in the final twenty minutes of the match.
[All scores are single-leg matches this season]
BSC Young Boys
UEFA Champs League 2QR: KÍ (FRO) 3 – 1
UEFA Champs League 3QR: FC Midtjylland (DEN) 0 – 3
UEFA Europa League P/OR: KF Tirana (ALB) 3 – 0
UEFA Europa League Group A
UEFA Europa League 3QR: AEK Athens (GRE) 0 – 1
UEFA Europa League 2QR: NK Osijek (CRO) 2 – 1
UEFA Europa League 3QR: Anorthosis Famagusta (CYP) 3 – 2
UEFA Europa League P/OR: CSKA Sofia (BUL) 1 – 3
UEFA Europa League 1QR: MFK Ružomberok (SVK) 3 – 0
UEFA Europa League 2QR: Stade de Reims (FRA) 0 – 1
UEFA Europa League 1QR: Hibernians (MLT) 0 – 2
Sources of Information
The best source of information for Swiss football in the English language, at the moment, is FootballSwissEN, an excellent account run by Scottish-based journalist and Football Manager assistant researcher, Craig King. There are also talks of a potential Swiss Football Podcast from him on the near horizon, so keep close tabs on that future development – certainly I am looking forward to listening to any potential podcast on Swiss football.
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/FootballSwissEN
Below are the official links for the Swiss Football League (only available in French or German):
- Website: https://www.sfl.ch/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/News_SFL
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SwissFootballLeague/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sfl_ch/
So that completes my initial delve into the Swiss Super League. I have really enjoyed learning about Swiss and Liechtensteiner football and its league teams, and will be keeping an eye on the leagues throughout the season. Also I need to pick a Swiss team to follow so any suggestions from any league in the football pyramid will be very grateful! I hope you have also learnt something from my blog and have enjoyed reading about the Swiss Super League and its teams.
If you have any questions, opinions or feedback on this blog, please contact me through the comments box below, or via Twitter @The94thMin. I would be eager to hear your thoughts, and also if you follow any Swiss or Liechtensteiner teams and the reason for it! In addition, if you have any country you would like me to focus on in the future, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Danke / Merci / Grazie / Grazia!