Well, a few weeks ago, I promised an exciting finish to the Swiss football season, and I’m happy to report it was delivered with typical efficiency.
Young Boys sewed up their fourth straight Swiss Super League win back in April with an impressive seven games left in the campaign. As if to accentuate their dominance, the Bern side won six of those last seven games, losing just once to Servette (recording only their second loss of the league season in the process).
With 31 points separating Young Boys from second-place Basel, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take a fifth-straight title next season, but they’ll have to do it without manager Gerardo Seoane, who is departing to take on the Bayer Leverkusen job. Seoane can look to his predecessor Adi Hütter as inspiration: his time at Eintracht Frankfurt has been fruitful and has led to Borussia Mönchengladbach bringing him in as a replacement for Marco Rose.
Along with Basel, Servette have qualified for the new UEFA Conference League qualifying rounds, ending the season in third after a late wobble saw them lose three of their last four. A late rally from Lugano was spirited, but ultimately futile as they missed out on Europe by a point. Both Basel and Servette will look at European qualification as a huge bonus: Basel as they desperately needed to prove to their fans that they were still the best of the rest, while Servette will take this as a clear sign that the club is on its way back after years of financial uncertainty.
At the wrong end of the table, the final day provided some serious drama. At kick-off, FC Sion occupied the bottom spot on 35 points, with FC Vaduz just above them on 36 in the relegation play-off spot. Vaduz travelled to Zurich, already safe in 8th place, needing only to match Sion’s result in order to give themselves a chance of staying up. Sion, on the other hand, hosted Basel.
Like Zurich, Basel had nothing else to play for, but not many were giving Sion much chance of coming away with anything from the game. 90 minutes later, Vaduz had been battered 4-1 in Zurich and had to hope Basel had done them a favour in Valais. That hope, however, was firmly misplaced. Sion had run rampant over Basel, ending the game 4-0 winners. That meant they leapfrogged Vaduz into the play-off spot, while the Liechtensteiners were consigned to Challenge League football next season.
Sion won’t have too far to go for their relegation play-off as their opponents will be FC Thun in the canton of Bern. Despite a last-day victory, Thun finished a point behind Grasshopper Zurich, who will be returning to the top-flight after their relegation in 2019. Grasshoppers had done their best to throw automatic promotion away, winning just one of their last five games, but the final day victory over Kriens cemented top spot and a well-received promotion for one of the country’s oldest clubs.
After all the league drama dust had settled, there was the small matter of the Swiss Cup to wrap up. The final, held at Young Boys’ Wankdorfstadion, was between St Gallen and FC Luzern, who ended the Super League season separated by just two points. Two quick-fire goals in the first half put Luzern in control before St Gallen struck back just before half time. In the second half, Luzern stepped on the accelerator and took a firm grip of the game, adding their third on 70 minutes. Luzern’s cup win was not only their first trophy since 1992, but also meant Central Switzerland could celebrate a second sports title of the year (after EV Zug took home the Ice Hockey championship), almost 30 years since the last one to come out of the region.