Plenty to play for as the Swiss Super League draws to a conclusion

With eight games left to go in the Swiss Super League, and 22 points between first and second in the league, you’d be forgiven for thinking the campaign was all but over.

And, admittedly, at the top you’d be spot on, but there’s so much more to play for than the title in Switzerland this season.

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Defending champions BSC Young Boys have utterly dominated this year, suffering just a solitary defeat to second-place Servette back in December, conceding just 21 goals in their march towards a fourth successive Super League title.

Considering the Boys from Bern have balanced their impressive league campaign alongside an exhaustive trek around Europe for both Champions League qualifiers and Europa League games, impressively knocking out Bayer Leverkusen before losing out to Ajax, they can probably be forgiven for an early Cup exit at the hands of St Gallen.

If Young Boys can keep hold of stars Jean-Pierre Nsame and David von Ballmoos, and replace the goals of on-loan Jordan Siebatcheu, then it might be a long time before they are knocked off their throne as the current kings of Swiss football.

The real excitement, however, can be found just below them.

From 2009 to 2017, Young Boys’ throne belonged exclusively to FC Basel. Even those who paid no attention whatsoever to the Swiss game would have recognised the twenty-time Swiss champions after a string of impressive displays in Europe. Since 2017, however, the title has gone to Bern, with Basel slipping to second and then third in the table.

At the time of writing, they sit in fourth – 24 points off the top, but only two behind Servette in second place. For Basel, the last few years have constituted something of a crisis, both on and off the field, and a failure to qualify for any kind of European football could be disastrous for a side with such an incredible recent history of success. It’s imperative that interim coach Patrick Rahmen gets them back on track in the final quarter of the campaign.

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For second place Servette, however, the future is looking a lot brighter than it once did. In 2012, the club from Geneva were declared bankrupt for a second time, and suffered relegation to the Challenge League shortly after in 2013.

After another forced relegation to the third tier of Swiss football in 2015, Servette seem to have rebuilt the club into a much more sustainable model, celebrating their return to the top flight by finishing fourth in 2019. If they can maintain their grip on second place this season, and perform well in the inaugural Europa Conference League, perhaps Servette can begin to launch a real challenge for their first Swiss title since 1999.

But never mind the European spots for now. As if to sum up just how unpredictable the Swiss league has been this season, second-place Servette are still not mathematically safe from relegation. Third-place Lugano (40 points) are only separated from the first relegation spot, currently occupied by Liechtenstein’s FC Vaduz, by a mere eight points.

FC Sion, meanwhile, adrift at the bottom of the pile, are still only six points away from safety. With only five wins all season and 46 goals conceded, it would take a surprising shift in form for Sion to pull off a great escape, but just catching 9th place would give them a chance to stay up through the relegation play-off.

Everyone in between must be looking at the final eight games with a sense of indecision: a good run of form could put you in contention for European qualification, but a few slips could send you plummeting towards relegation. Who’s going to gamble?

So there you have it: first place all but tied up by Young Boys yet again, but literally everything else still to play for in Switzerland. Although it’s been home to one of the most one-sided title races in Europe, the Swiss Super League might just have one of the most exciting conclusions.

If you haven’t been paying attention yet, perhaps now’s the time to start.

The Author

Patrick Gunn

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