Four months since the last ball was kicked, the Raiffeisen Super League is back.
Swiss football couldn’t have left on a better cliffhanger, amidst the most exciting title race in years. A thrilling 3-3 draw left St. Gallen top of the table on goal difference, with defending champions BSC Young Boys hot on their tails before the league’s suspension in late February.
As Switzerland begins to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, it beckons the return of domestic football – albeit behind closed doors, with a limit of 300 people per game. The ten Super League clubs will play out their final 13 fixtures, with so much still to be decided at both ends of the table.
With the league set to resume on this Friday, this is your full lowdown of round 24 in the Swiss Super League.
BSC Young Boys vs FC Zürich
Friday 19th June, 20:30 CEST
Stade de Suisse, Bern
The reigning champions get us underway on Friday night, as they welcome FC Zürich to the Stade de Suisse. Young Boys will have to get off to a strong start if they want to seal a third consecutive title, while Zürich will be looking to close the current gap between them and the Europa League places.
YB have won the last five meetings in all competitions without conceding a goal, with FCZ’s last league win in the capital coming in March 2014. Ludovic Magnin’s side are five games without a win in the Super League, coming up against a team who haven’t lost a single game on home soil this season.
It would take a real miracle for Zürich to come away with a win, in a significant mismatch to restart the league season. YB will be clear favourites to take the three points, and nothing less should be expected of the champions in what should be a straightforward victory in Bern.
Prediction: BSC Young Boys 3-0 FC Zürich
Neuchâtel Xamax vs FC Thun
Saturday 20th June, 18:15 CEST
Stade de la Maladière, Neuchâtel
While this matchup looks mediocre on paper, it will be the most important tie of the round. Neuchâtel Xamax and Thun make up the bottom two with 19 points apiece, only separated by a sizeable goal difference in Xamax’s favour. As the battle for relegation heats up, this will be crucial.
Xamax will have the upper hand at the Maladière, not only through home advantage but thanks to the new arrivals of Johan Djourou and Xavier Kouassi. The pair can play this season after being sacked by Sion, and may well be the difference between survival and relegation for Joël Magnin’s men.
This will be a massive six-pointer, as the side with the worst home record welcome the club with the worst away record. Thun will be praying for a repeat of the 3-2 win last time out, but Xamax’s added experience and marginally better position should see them emerge with the win.
Prediction: Neuchâtel Xamax 2-0 FC Thun
FC Sion vs St. Gallen
Saturday 20th June, 20:30 CEST
Stade Tourbillon, Sion
St. Gallen continue their title pursuit in Valais, when they travel down to the Stade Tourbillon to face Sion. The league leaders – or Tabellenführer – are aiming for a fourth straight win over their hosts, while the pressure will be on to win after YB’s opening match the previous night.
Meanwhile, Sion remain a club in turmoil. Returning Italian Paolo Tramezzani is their fourth manager this season, and their 49th of the century. Seven games winless, nine players sacked and four points off relegation, these final few weeks of the season are going to be a tough test.
St. Gallen are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Sion, averaging two goals a game as the highest scoring team this season. Die Espen are hungry for their first league title in 20 years, and while they could be in for a Sion surprise, they should be expected to restart their title challenge with a win.
Prediction: FC Sion 1-2 St. Gallen
FC Luzern vs FC Basel
Sunday 21st June, 16:00 CEST
Is there more of a contrast between two teams’ preparations than FC Luzern and FC Basel? Luzern didn’t win any of their three friendlies against Challenge League sides, losing 3-0 to FC Vaduz and 5-0 to Lausanne-Sport in the space of a week. But for all of FCL’s embarrassment, they are unbeaten in their last six league games, including victories against St. Gallen, YB and Basel.
On the other hand, Basel reached the Swiss Cup semi-final for the eighth time in nine years, beating Lausanne 3-2 after extra time. The RotBlau remain five points off the top, though their advantage of recent competitive action may dispel their form of one win in six.
Form suggests Basel should win this comfortably, but Luzern have a habit of turning up against the big teams when it matters. Friendly results usually don’t matter, but you can’t ignore FCL losing 10-2 on aggregate to second division sides. This should be one for the visitors at the Swissporarena.
Prediction: FC Luzern 1-3 FC Basel
Servette FC vs FC Lugano
Sunday 21st June, 16:00 CEST
Stade de Genève, Geneva
Round 24 ends on the Genevan shores, when Servette welcome Lugano to south-west Switzerland. The hosts are knocking on the door of European football, just three points off a Europa League finish and eight off the Champions League. It’s been a fantastic season for Alain Geiger’s side, who have the best defence in the entire division.
However, Lugano will prove a tough team to break down. Not only are they unbeaten in three games against Servette, but they have kept clean sheets in four of those last five encounters. For their struggles in front of goal – Lugano are the second lowest scorers in the league – their defence is the third best behind Basel and, ironically, Servette.
This is the game we are most likely to see little to no goals in, but only because of both sides’ disciplined and successful defences. A goalless draw looks set to be on the table, in what will be an enticing battle to conclude the first Super League weekend since the restart.
Prediction: Servette FC 0-0 FC Lugano