FC Sion v FC Basel
A match between FC Sion and FC Basel on any weekend is a top attraction in itself but, Saturday evening’s clash at the Tourbillon will have added box office appeal with the potential debut of new signing Mario Balotelli for the Valais club. Balotelli played against FC Basel back in his Liverpool days but there aren’t many who would’ve ever expected one of football’s most controversial characters to be doing so in the Swiss domestic league itself.
Sion are in need of a boost to their team after a mixed start to the season that has brought two excellent away results to Lugano and Zurich alongside disappointing away defeats to Luzern and Young Boys. They are also still without a home victory after draws with Grasshoppers and derby rivals Servette.
FC Basel are finally clicking into gear after their slow start. They have welcomed the return of Jean-Kevin Augustin from injury, and the new signing of exciting youngster Bradley Fink from Dortmund has bolstered their ranks further. The goals have arrived in emphatic fashion too as the 20-time Swiss champion stuck four beyond FC Zurich in Der Klassiker last week.
Balotelli isn’t expected to start this weekend, so their lack of goals won’t be fixed just quite yet, while Basel are improving each week. As a result, I think FCB can win at the Tourbillon but I would cover myself with the draw no bet option.
FC Zurich v Lugano
A routine cup victory over SC Cham and two wins in a crucial European tie with Hearts to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stage can go a long way in taking the pressure off of a manager’s shoulders, temporarily at least. By the same token, a 4-2 loss at home in ‘der Klassiker’ against your great rivals can go a long way to piling it all back on again. That is the situation that Franco Foda finds himself in with FCZ still searching for their first league victory of the campaign.
To be truthful, there was expected to be a dip for FCZ this season. After losing some of their key players and manager, despite being the reigning champions, it was going to be difficult for the club to replicate their success. That being said, no one would’ve expected them to be rooted to the bottom of the table and without victory after six matches. It is a run of form that probably makes this game against fellow strugglers Lugano a “must-win” for their Austrian coach.
Mattia Croci-Toti also experienced a similar reprieve to his colleague over in Zurich after an away win against FC Basel and a cup victory vs. lower league Linth. A 3-2 defeat to St. Gallen at home last weekend though has raised yet more questions about last season’s cup-winning side that has now lost three of their six games. The signing of Swiss international Renato Steffen in midweek has boosted spirits, but they really must find consistency in the coming weeks.
Both of these sides are desperate to turn around their form. FCZ have started scoring goals, netting in their last five after a stuttering start to the season but their slack defending and inability to defend set-pieces was ruthlessly exposed by Basel last week. Lugano haven’t had issues scoring, having done so in every game both domestically and on the continent, but they too are conceding an alarming number of goals. For those reasons, both teams should get on the scoresheet at the weekend.
St. Gallen v Young Boys
It is a battle at the top of the table at kybunpark on Sunday with YB in the lead by two points ahead of St. Gallen at this early stage. It is reminiscent of the 2019/20 season that brought an unlikely title challenge from Peter Zeidler’s FCSG and, with the way they’ve started this season, there is the possibility that they could find themselves vying for the league title again a few years on.
St. Gallen have had their blips, most notably their opening day defeat at Servette and their 3-2 loss at Grasshoppers, but they have been perfect at home to ring off wins against Winterthur, Zurich and Luzern in recent weeks. More impressively, their attacking prowess has been displayed with twenty-seven goals in their last five games, albeit fifteen of those came against amateur league side Rorschach in the cup. Nevertheless, they are looking like a dangerous team again this season.
Young Boys will know the pitfalls of visiting kybunpark too well. They haven’t won on their last four trips and conceded twelve goals in those games too. They do come into this one in fine form though, unbeaten in the league so far and having scored seven goals in their last two matches, including a 5-1 victory at Winterthur last time out.
This game promises to be action-packed between the two top-scoring sides. FCSG are always a difficult opponent at the atmospheric kybunpark and they have the tools to unpick the YB defence. YB haven’t failed to score here since 2013 and will be able to find the net too with the attacking options at their disposal.
Grasshoppers v Winterthur
The two most recently promoted clubs to Switzerland’s top flight will meet at the Letzigrund in a Zurich derby while occupying opposite ends of the table heading into the seventh matchday.
Grasshoppers were expected to be in a similar position to Winterthur with many predicting the Zurich club to take up the relegation play-off spot. So far, it hasn’t gone like that at all. GC only suffered their first defeat last weekend and have otherwise been in great form, winning at home to a strong St. Gallen side and even earning a point away to league leaders Young Boys. Their current position in a European spot is not a fluke by any means.
Winterthur aren’t offering any surprises, even if they are keeping their head above the water in ninth ahead of FC Zurich by a single goal, something that seemed unimaginable at the start of the season given that FCZ are the reigning champions. Winti have struggled to adapt and have relied on the Schutzenwiese to pick up their only two points so far. That being said, they were beaten at home by YB at the weekend, a chastening 5-1 turnaround after taking the lead.
GC have won both their home games so far this season and welcome a visiting side that has yet to score in their two matches on the road. With the contrasting form, I expect GC to pile on the misery for Winti on Sunday.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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