Yverdon-Sport v Aarau
After an unexpectedly excellent start to the Challenge League season, Yverdon-Sport have cooled off a little in recent weeks after three defeats in their last five. Despite that, Marco Schailibaum, who led Bellinzona over the line to promotion to this division last season, has so far transformed a side that were struggling in the doldrums of the Challenge League in the 21/22 campaign. Despite this wobble, they sit in fourth and are firmly in contention for both a title challenge and the play-off spot in second.
Unlike YS, Aarau are expected to be up there in the thick of the title race, especially after they threw away their golden ticket back to the Super League in such dramatic fashion on the final day back in May. Aarau have let a gift-wrapped opportunity to return to the top league slip from their grasp twice now in the last four seasons and they’ll be determined not to let that happen once again. Only a point separates them from Lausanne and Wil after they made it six games unbeaten with their 2-0 victory away to Schaffhausen last time out.
I think there is a real opportunity for the two top-scoring teams in the league to continue their hot streaks here in a game that points towards plenty of goals. Also, 12 of the last 14 home games for YS have had over 2.5 Goals. I can see that run continuing at the Municipal in Round 9.
Lausanne v FC Wil
A mouth-watering clash awaits at the Stade de la Tulliere on Friday evening in a game that is probably the highlight across Switzerland in this round of matches. FC Wil make the trip to Lausanne as surprise league leaders, level on points with their hosts but with a superior goal difference by three. With identical win/loss records and both teams in exciting form, this really should be an enthralling match.
Lausanne bounced back from the rare misstep that was their defeat to Thun two weeks ago by dispatching of Yverdon-Sport in a five-goal thriller at home before the international break. LS led both 2-0 and 3-1 in the contest but were made to sweat with the game eventually ending 3-2 to Giorgio Contini’s men. The result brings a fourth win from their last five and six wins from their last eight in all competitions.
FC Wil’s resurgence has been well-documented. This was a side that finished ninth last season and conceded 80 goals, however, they are flying high at the top of the Challenge League table just a few months on. Much like LS, they recovered from a narrow defeat to Aarau in the previous weekend to demolish promoted side Bellinzona at the Lidl Arena. Given the improved form Bellinzona were in, and that they were already able to take points from Lausanne this season, it was an important and emphatic win for FCW.
While these two teams have been impressive, they aren’t cut adrift from the rest in the table. Aarau, Yverdon, Bellinzona and SLO are all snapping at their heels, so a victory here is important. I expect two sides that will aim for that outcome at the Tulliere. They’re both scoring goals with regularity and are in confident form. I wouldn’t be surprised to see goals at both ends in this one.
Thun v Neuchatel Xamax
Thun and Neuchatel Xamax will meet for the second time in two weeks when they do battle at the Stockhorn Arena on Friday evening. The first part of this double-header took place in the Swiss Cup just prior to the international break. That competition has been the only respite Xamax have had from a winless start to their season, however, that didn’t last as they were eliminated at the Stade de la Maladiere after their visitors from Bern came from behind to seal qualification to the next round in the final minute.
That result marked a sixth consecutive match unbeaten for FC Thun in all competitions. After a shaky start, Mario Lustrinelli has steadied the ship and will be aiming to steer FCT into promotion contention. A draw away to Wil and a 2-0 victory over Lausanne at home in their previous two league matches will give plenty of belief that this team can repeat their feat of 2010 when they last were champions of the second-tier.
Neuchatel Xamax have scored in their last three matches and picked up their first point after eight games in their 1-1 draw with Vaduz in mid-September. There has been an improvement for Xamax under new manager Jeff Saibene, but the Luxembourgish coach has yet to find a way to plug the gap in their leaky defence on his return to management in Switzerland. That was all too evident again in that cup victory for Thun.
FCT are in a good place and having dispatched the title favourites at this venue just three weeks ago, I predict they will have too much for a fragile Xamax side that could be staring at defeat again.
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