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Season review: Switzerland

Published: Friday 25 May 2012, 18.02CET
FC Basel 1893 had a relatively comfortable path to a third successive title but Murat Yakin's FC Luzern impressed too and made Heiko Vogel's men work hard to complete the double.
by Michael Schifferle
Season review: Switzerland
Basel's experienced Alexander Frei was Swiss Super League top scorer ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 25 May 2012, 18.02CET

Season review: Switzerland

FC Basel 1893 had a relatively comfortable path to a third successive title but Murat Yakin's FC Luzern impressed too and made Heiko Vogel's men work hard to complete the double.

The race for the Swiss title is not often concluded as quickly as it was this season. For the past two years, FC Basel 1893 only won the Super League on the final day, but this time they did so with five games to spare. A 3-1 win over FC Lausanne-Sport on 29 April confirmed their third consecutive championship, with Basel going 26 games without defeat and finishing 20 points ahead of second-placed FC Luzern.

Champions: FC Basel 1893
Thorsten Fink's sudden departure to Hamburger SV in mid-October was a big shock for the reigning champions. Assistant coach Heiko Vogel was made caretaker, and was so successful that he retained the job permanently. The 36-year-old took to his first job as coach well and under his guidance Basel quickly went top of the table. Vogel only lost his first home match on 20 May after 25 matches (21 league and four cup) without defeat at St Jakob-Park. Vogel's men even made their presence felt on the international stage, ousting Manchester United FC to qualify for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Cup final: FC Basel 1893 1-1 FC Luzern (4-3 on penalties)
Basel's progress in the cup was as difficult as their league campaign was serene, especially in their encounters with second-tier sides. They needed extra time to beat FC Wil 3-2, and FC Winterthur provided stiff opposition in the semi-final, which Vogel's men eventually won 2-1. League runners-up Luzern again ran the champions close in the final, but after Basel's Benjamin Huggel and Tomislav Puljić exchanged goals in normal time, Basel prevailed on penalties with goalkeeper Yann Sommer saving twice.

European places
FC Basel 1893 – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FC Luzern – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
BSC Young Boys – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
Servette FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Thun – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

Player of the year: Alexander Frei (FC Basel 1893)
Several Basel players were candidates, but no-one embodied their successes more than striker Frei, who scored key goals in the vital games against Manchester United and Luzern. With his set pieces as deadly as ever, he delivered 24 goals and 11 assists, finishing top scorer in Switzerland.

One to watch: Yann Sommer (FC Basel 1893)
No-one ever doubted Sommer's huge talent, but the goalkeeper has now confirmed that potential at the highest level. He succeeded the popular Franco Costanzo and the 23-year old lived up to his promise, convincing observers with some outstanding performances, especially in Europe. Even conceding seven goals in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against FC Bayern München did little to diminish his successful season.

Surprise package: FC Luzern
Luzern had been one of the Super League's rising stars in recent seasons, but lacked consistency to perform at that level over a full campaign. This year, led by wily coach Yakin, they were able to do so and were rewarded with second place and a spot in the cup final. Getting the better of more celebrated teams such as BSC Young Boys or FC Zürich made their achievement even more remarkable.

Leading scorer: Alexander Frei, FC Basel 1893 (24)

Relegated: Neuchâtel Xamax FC

Promoted: FC St. Gallen
(FC Sion, second-bottom of the Super League, won the relegation/promotion play-off against FC Aarau, second-top of the Challenge League.)

Number: 12,253
Despite the well-supported FC St. Gallen playing in the second-tier Challenge League, the Swiss Super League celebrated a new attendance record, with an average of 12,253 spectators per match. Champions Basel led the way in attendances too, with an average of 29,774, followed by Young Boys, watched by 21,103 on average despite a disappointing season. Luzern's new stadium had an average crowd of 14,180.

Quote
"I have already thanked the team before the final match. It was an outstanding season, though not an easy one. Especially after the championship had been decided it was difficult to keep spirits up. Other than that, we were a pack of wolves, everyone was there for the others and for me as well. But we are not done yet and I am already looking forward to go on to further successes with our great fans, who are with us everywhere. Those who leave us I wish all the best. I will follow their careers." Basel coach Heiko Vogel

Last updated: 10/07/12 14.14CET

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