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Season review: Switzerland

Published: Wednesday 22 June 2011, 9.45CET
FC Basel 1893 had to wait until the last day of the season to claim their 14th title, while FC Sion maintained a remarkable record with their 12th win in 12 Swiss Cup final appearances.
by Michael Schifferle
from Basel
Season review: Switzerland
Alexander Frei enjoyed a stunning season in front of goal ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 22 June 2011, 9.45CET

Season review: Switzerland

FC Basel 1893 had to wait until the last day of the season to claim their 14th title, while FC Sion maintained a remarkable record with their 12th win in 12 Swiss Cup final appearances.

FC Basel 1893 had to wait until the last day of the season to defend the title they snatched from under BSC Young Boys' noses the previous season. FC Sion, meanwhile, made it 12 wins from 12 Swiss Cup final appearances.

Champions: FC Basel 1893
In his second season in charge, Thorsten Fink oversaw only Basel's fourth successful title defence; not insignificant as they had never previously won the crown in seasons when they played in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their charge towards a 14th title, and sixth since 2002, was led by former Switzerland strikers Alexander Frei and Marco Streller, who together contributed 37 of Basel's 76 goals. However, they only beat FC Zürich by one point, and needed a 3-0 last-day win against FC Luzern to seal matters.

Cup final: Neuchâtel Xamax FC 0-2 FC Sion
Having won all 11 of their previous Swiss Cup finals, Sion's success was no real surprise. Giovanni Sio and Vilmos Vanczák headed the goals for Laurent Roussey's Sion inside the first six minutes – "we were still asleep," said Xamax coach Bernard Challandes, whose side had barely escaped relegation a few days earlier. Xamax hit the post late on, but as victorious midfielder Goran Obradović said: "God seemed to want Sion to win."

European places
FC Basel 1893 – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Zürich – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Sion – UEFA Europa League play-offs
BSC Young Boys – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Thun – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

Player of the year: Alexander Frei (FC Basel 1893)
The official title is decided in August, but Frei should be practicing his acceptance speech already; his 27 goals and ten assists gave Basel a massive lift in a season when the 31-year-old quit international football. His contribution was never more telling than when Basel faced Zürich on 11 May; FCZ twice led but both times Frei struck back to keep Basel above their main rivals in the table.

One to watch: Granit Xhaka (FC Basel 1893)
The midfielder only turned 18 in September 2010, but his skill and composure belie his tender years, and his 20 league appearances for Bebbi only served to underline his reputation as the hottest talent in Swiss football. Otmar Hitzfeld gave him a full 90 minutes as he made his senior debut in Switzerland's 2-2 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw against England at Wembley on 4 June.

Surprise package: FC Thun
Tiny Thun caused a stir by reaching the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League group stage, and will look for another European adventure in the UEFA Europa League after finishing fourth in their first season back in the top flight. Murat Yakin's side boasted the league's second tightest defence, and lost only nine top-flight games all season; their new Thun Süd Stadium opens this summer, but their coach will not be there to see it – he has agreed to take over at Luzern.

Leading scorer: Alexander Frei, FC Basel 1893 (27)

Number: 11,302
The average gate for Swiss Super League games in 2010/11, a new record. Yet it is a nation of extremes; Basel's average crowd was 29,043, while AC Bellinzona's was just 4,800.

Relegated: AC Bellinzona, FC St Gallen

Promoted: FC Lausanne-Sport, Servette FC

Quote
"I have two years left on my contract and we are aiming to win a third league title in a row, something FCB have never managed before. Also, we can play in the Champions League. I will be telling all of this to players like Xherdan Shaqiri, who have caught the eye of other clubs."
Basel coach Thorsten Fink looks to hold his squad together

Last updated: 08/07/11 16.50CET

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