FC Zurich V Arsenal in the Europa League

 

 

 

 

 

By Bulldog Drummond

FC Zürich is one of two professional teams from the city, the other being Grasshopper Club Zurich often known as Grasshoppers.   And we might note as a starting point that FC Zürich who we play on Thursday is the only Swiss team to have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League twice (1964 and 1977).

But a look at their league table shows that this is not a club ruling the league.  Far from it in fact, for they are one from bottom in the Swiss League with three home defeats so far in the league.

 

  P W D L F A GD Pts
St Gallen 7 5 0 2 15 8 +7 15
Young Boys  7 4 2 1 17 4 +13 14
Servette 7 4 2 1 8 5 +3 14
Grasshoppers 7 3 3 1 13 10 +3 12
FC Sion 7 3 2 2 10 10 0 11
FC Lugano 7 3 0 4 14 12 +2 9
FC Luzern 6 2 2 2 6 8 -2 8
FC Basel 6 1 3 2 7 8 -1 6
FC Zurich 7 0 2 5 4 16 -12 2
Winterthur 7 0 2 5 4 17 -13 2

 

The club did start out the season in the Champions League but lost in the preliminary round games they played to Qarabag of the Azerbaijan Premier League (3-2 away with a 2-2 draw at home).  They then played Linfield (just once at home as far as I can see and for a reason I don’t understand) and Hearts (home and away) to qualify for the group stages of the Europa.

So a spot of success there, but for the team that was champions of Switzerland last season, the league campaign has been far from successful thus far.  They have played seven, drawn two and lost five.

 

Date Home Team Score Away team
16Jul 2022 Young Boys 4 – 0 FC Zurich
23Jul 2022 FC Zurich 0 – 0 Lucerne
30Jul 2022 St Gallen 2 – 0 FC Zurich
07Aug 2022 FC Zurich 0 – 3 FC Sion
14Aug 2022 FC Winterthur 1 – 1 FC Zurich
28Aug 2022 FC Zurich 2 – 4 Basel
3Sep 2022 FC Zurich 1 – 2 Lugano

 

In fact FC Zurich are far from being one of the teams from a smaller European country that simply wins the league year after year.  In 2016 they came bottom of the Swiss League and were relegated, but immediately returned in 2017 as champions.  Then after a series of mid to lower table finishes they won the league last season, only to have this terrible start this time around.

They can get crowds of 13000 but often have under 10,000 in the ground for league games and with last season’s success this is a very disappointing campaign so far, and the inevitable arguments have broken out about the club’s lack of passion.  It was ever thus.

After the last game, the chairman of the club had the innovative notion that if he criticised the team he could make matters better – an interesting thought and one that proved to be as ludicrous as it appears when written down.   But obviously things in Swiss football go their own unique way as even the captain decided to criticise the rest of the team saying,

“The match against Winterthur was a step backwards. The first half was one of the worst I’ve seen in many years.   It’s clear some key players from last season are obviously not in top form. The start we have made makes me sick to the stomach to be honest.”   A silly un-motivational speech made worse by the follow up comments…

“What really upsets and disappoints me is our performance and how we went out on the pitch against Winterthur.   We’ve been preparing for this important derby all week. But then they showed us what it means to go onto the pitch with passion and heart.”

So not the best of preparations for the Europa League.  And yet the club has not always been the whipping boys in European games.  As one might expect from a smaller nation such as Switzerland they don’t dominate, but they are not constantly slaughtered.

 

Competition P W D L F A
European Cup/Champions League 47 17 5 25 59 83
UEFA Cup/Europa League 81 28 18 35 99 126

 

They have thus won over a third of their Champions, European Cup and Europa League matches although for them to get anything out of the Europa League this season seems a lot to expect, given their results so far.

Quite why the team has crashed so heavily compared with last season I’m sorry to say I don’t know, and reading the reports from Switzerland it seems the locals don’t know either.  But we should remember that FC Zurich do have the ability to rally themselves and they’ll obviously be encouraged by their earlier European results.

I doubt Arsenal will put out the full first team, but even so FC Zurich should find this game hard going.

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