Neuchatel Xamax v FC Wil
Top vs. bottom in the standings, but the form book has 10th-placed Neuchatel Xamax and league leaders FC Wil much closer together. The visitors to the Stade de la Maladiere are the form team of the two, winning four and drawing one of their last five. Xamax are also unbeaten in five, drawing four and winning one. This one will certainly be a tougher test for FC Wil than it looks on paper.
Xamax are much improved over the last month. They are still struggling defensively, conceding in their last six games in a row, but are scoring enough to keep picking up points. Jeff Saibene’s men also caused a shock last weekend with their 2-1 victory over Stade Lausanne-Ouchy, a side that had lost only one of their previous ten and hadn’t tasted an away loss since mid-July. That result further illustrates the improvement in a team that didn’t pick up a single point until mid-September.
FC Wil continue to go from strength to strength at the top. Any hopes of them slowing down were quickly removed by an emphatic 6-1 victory over Aarau last weekend, their largest home victory in the Challenge League since 2014. Those six goals took them to the top of the table and joint with Yverdon-Sport for the title of the most prolific team in the league. They do look more vulnerable on the road though and 15 of the 21 goals FCW have conceded this season have come on the road.
This should be a close contest. Wil have only won one of their last five away from home, conceding four at Lausanne and five to Bellinzona in the process. Xamax haven’t failed to score in thirteen games and six in a row have ended with both teams scoring. A fixture that often produces goals, 10 of the last 11 at the Maladiere have ended with at least three goals, I’d expect the same on Friday.
Bellinzona v Thun
It may not be conventional, but Bellinzona’s erratic ways have kept them in the top half of the table and away from the relegation zone as we head towards the winter break. The Ticino club are proving hard to beat, losing only two of their last six, each by a single goal. A 5-1 win over Wil and clean sheets over Aarau and Vaduz and a 1-1 draw at promotion favourites Bellinzona last time out have been very creditable results for a team that many predicted would be struggling at the bottom of the table in the new surroundings of the Challenge League.
Thun were able to end a six-game winless run in the 2-1 victory they achieved over Schaffhausen last Friday. It was much needed as they continued to flirt with a relegation battle at the bottom. As much as the competitiveness of this league means that a promotion challenge isn’t always on the cards for FCT, they certainly shouldn’t be languishing at the bottom, nor should they be five points adrift of their hosts heading into this weekend. Much better is required from the Bern club.
I predict BTTS. The earlier meeting at the Stockhorn Arena in the capital ended 1-1 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar here. ACB have kept just two clean sheets at home and shipped three goals to a Schaffhausen side that is the lowest scoring in the division. 7 of the last 8 away games for Thun have ended with BTTS and 13 of their 16 games overall too.
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