Neuchatel Xamax v Bellinzona
Neuchatel Xamax are showing plenty of fighting spirit under new manager Jeff Saibene, but they still can’t shake off a run of form that has them winless in the Challenge League after nine games with only one point to their name. Scoring goals is no longer a problem since the experienced Luxembourgish manager took charge, conceding them continues to be an issue. Frustratingly, they both led and equalised against Thun in their last two games but ultimately let the position slip away.
Bellinzona will be delighted by the plight of Xamax. The promoted side have a healthy twelve-point lead over their opponents this weekend and have eased any relegation concerns with some impressive results in the early part of the campaign. That being said, they suffered heavy defeats away to Wil (5-1) and at home to Schaffhausen (1-3) in their last two games. Impressively, they’ve only failed to score once in nine matches in their new surroundings and are proving a tough nut to crack for most sides in this division.
Despite their leaky defence, Xamax are improving and will be confident of finding the net against Bellinzona. The visitors will be thinking exactly the same thing and it is unlikely they’ll fail to exploit a backline as porous as Neuchatel’s. The reverse fixture in August ended in a 3-1 victory for Bellinzona and I believe this will be another match where both teams can find the net.
Aarau v FC Thun
FC Aarau simply don’t know how to do anything else other than entertain. Even in the matches where it seems like it is going to be a drab affair, the game inevitably sparks into life in the most dramatic fashion. Their 2-2 draw with Yverdon-Sport last Friday is perhaps the best example of this. 0-0 after the hour, this one was heading only one way until Aarau took the lead on two occasions, in the 65th and 75 minutes only to be pegged back both times within nine minutes by their hosts. They can certainly score goals, but this team can’t stop conceding them either.
Thun are much the same, especially on their travels. They are in good form ahead of their trip to Brugglifeld, defeating Neuchatel Xamax for the second time in two weeks and extending their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions. A remarkable run considering they’ve conceded goals in all but two of those fixtures and also conceded the second-highest amount of goals away from home so far, second only to bottom club Xamax.
Aarau have yet to keep a clean sheet at home, conceding seven in just four matches. Thun have found the net in all but one of their five away games and have conceded in all of them. This points towards being a game that will have plenty of goals in it and that is my prediction here.
FC Wil v Yverdon-Sport
It was an unfamiliar feeling for FC Wil last week as they failed to score a goal in the Challenge League for the first time in just under one year. A run of thirty-six consecutive matches was brought to an end in the 4-0 loss at Lausanne. Not bad for a side that finished down in eighth last season and that is mixing it up with the promotion contenders in the 22/23 campaign. The away loss at LS was a disappointment though and they’ll be keen to bounce back to ensure they don’t lose any more ground on the league leaders.
Yverdon are another side that have surprised everyone after rubbing shoulders with Wil down near the relegation zone last year. They are down in mid-table before their visit to the Lidl Arena as they endure a run of patchy form that has them winless in four matches. They have also now scored and conceded in their last nine consecutive away games stretching back to a 2-2 draw at this venue with Wil back in May.
This should be an entertaining game. Wil are second only to Lausanne for goals scored at home and they are unlikely to misfire for a second consecutive week, especially against a YS side that is second only to Neuchatel Xamax for goals conceded on the road. YS are also second for goals scored away from their Municipal home and boast the services of seven-goal striker Koro Kone. For those reasons, I predict Over 2.5 Goals here, a scenario that has happened in Yverdon’s last five away games, and in the last seven meetings between these two.
Stade Lausanne-Ouchy v Lausanne-Sport
Two local rivals that had only played each other competitively on three occasions before they were matched up in the Swiss second-tier in 2019. Since then, Lausanne-Sport have been promoted to the top flight, inaugurated a new stadium and been relegated back down again. In that time, SLO have placed a respectable seventh twice and an impressive third on one other occasion. The renewal of this fixture also hasn’t been something that LS have necessarily welcomed with open arms, winning only two of the five meetings in three years.
SLO continue to punch above their weight and recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory in the principality against Vaduz last weekend to move into fourth. They have only lost two of their nine games so far, including a 0-0 draw away to Lausanne in August, and are on a four-match unbeaten streak. Having lost top scorer Brighton Labeau to Lausanne in the summer, Teddy Okoh and Alban Ajdini (5 goals) have stepped up to fill the void.
Lausanne have enjoyed a good few weeks and are backing up pre-season predictions of an instant return to the Super League. A crushing 4-0 win over Wil followed up wins over Yverdon and against FC Zurich in the cup. Away form has become a bit of a problem though, their two defeats so far came away from the Tulliere and they’ve only scored four goals compared to the fifteen at their own ground.
These are two polar opposite teams at the moment. SLO score more away from the Pontaise while Lausanne are free-scoring at home but not so much elsewhere. Only one of the five matches between these two have ended with more than two goals and I think this will be another tight contest.
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